The Mistake You Didn't Know You Were Making On The Treadmill

If you're a treadmill regular, you might be making a major mistake without even realizing it — and you're not alone. Most of us who hop on the treadmill for the cardio portion of our workout are guilty of staying too close to the front of the treadmill for fear of shooting off the back, like Taylor Swift in an Apple Music commercial (via The Verge). But good news: You can safely back up a bit without worrying about falling on your face in the middle of the gym. And you might improve your form at the same time!

When you run so close to the treadmill's console that your feet are partially hidden under it, you might be making your stride shorter and more inefficient. "Imagine you were outside and then someone stepped in front of you," Ben Lauder-Dykes, a NASM-certified trainer, told POPSUGAR. That's how you're running when you're constantly about to run into the console. "If you just tried to stop your feet, you would probably still fall into that person because you have some forward momentum, so it wouldn't work. To safely decelerate and stop, you would have to shorten your stride to take smaller steps and lower your hips to be able to slow down."

How should you run on the treadmill instead?

First, stop staring down at the treadmill console to see how many minutes (or seconds) have elapsed since you started. Looking down isn't natural — glance down occasionally to check your progress, the same way you'd glance down to look at the terrain in front of you on the road — but otherwise, look straight ahead (via Runner's Blueprint).

You should also use the treadmill with a slight incline. Choosing the lowest incline setting above zero on your treadmill is a more natural feeling compared to running with it set to perfectly flat. In fact, while it might say 'zero,' it will actually feel like a slight decline, and can impact your run form, especially once you get back to running outside (via Very Well).

Also, make sure to avoid wires, or tuck them away. Listening to headphones? Use Bluetooth or wireless-enabled ones or, if you're using a cord, tuck it away so it's not bouncing with every step you take. This is especially true if you have your phone or tablet resting on the treadmill's console to watch something: being wired into that can mess with your running form, and really, you should be focusing on the run, not catching up on reality TV (via The Balanced Runner).