Can the Treadmill Ruin your Running Form?

During adverse weather conditions, many athletes and fitness enthusiasts prefer to stay indoors and use their treadmills as a replacement of trail work. Treadmills are intelligently crafted workout machines that certainly give the same feel of ground running. But are these cardio machines as good as ground running? The short answer is ‘no’. For professionals and people with serious fitness objectives, treadmill running alone does not help. Why? Read on to learn.



The Downside of Treadmill Running

One of the major differences between treadmill running and outdoor running is the amount of energy expended or rate of perceived exertion. Your body will exert less energy running on a treadmill versus outside. This is due to environmental factors such as wind resistance, changes in the ground and because the treadmill assists you because it’s moving the entire time.



Besides the differences in energy expenditure, people who regularly run on treadmills gradually get comfortable with the process and they hardly want to run faster than the targeted pace. As a result, they do not learn how to maintain and increase pace gradually. This is because most people will set the pace on the treadmill and forget about it. The pacing instincts are subdued and athletes may find it difficult to increase their speed on an actual race day if they are just too obsessed and comfortable with treadmill workout and don’t have a physical finish line to visualize. The exercise nature is very different from trail running or road running. Treadmill running can be monotonous too.



Treadmill Running Can be Detrimental for Your Running Form

If you are a professional sprinter, know that regular treadmill running can affect your performance on track in the long run. Journal of Strength and Conditioning conducted a study recently that addresses the downsides of treadmill exercise. The surveyors chose some runners randomly to analyze their running pattern and pace during indoor workout sessions. They found that stride length of all the participants significantly increased over time. When you take longer strides, the effort spreads towards the back of the legs. The foot strike also shifts gradually to the heel. Now it might help you reserve your energy while running on a treadmill, but it can be harmful too.



Doing it Right

However, researchers suggested that if athletes and occasional runners can shorten their strides, treadmill can be hugely beneficial for running technique development. Plus they should also put emphasis on correcting the foot strike. If enough emphasis is placed on these two areas, the athletes and amateurs can correct their running technique for the better.



To wrap up, treadmill running is equally beneficial as above ground running as long as you can take shorter strides and can correct the foot strike. Especially during snowy winter months or during rainy season, having a treadmill at your home or office can be highly advantageous. Just remember that you should bring your outdoor running shoes into play as soon as the sun comes out.


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