The Big Mistake You're Making On The Treadmill

Despite its popularity, the treadmill is one of the most dangerous pieces of gym equipment. In 2019, it caused more than 22,500 injuries that required emergency care, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (via NBC News). Treadmills were actually used as torture devices in the 19th century, according to Wirecutter. Back then, prisoners used the machine in groups while doing manual labor. The treadmill came back in fashion in the early 1900s, making its way into medical offices. Today, it's a staple in gyms and households.

This exercise machine is convenient and easy to use, providing a full-body workout. "You can accurately control the pace, incline, interval, and recovery. For example, getting used to running at certain speeds because you're forced to, is much easier to do while there's a belt moving under your feet," said Peloton Tread Instructor Selena Samuela in an interview with Runner's World. Plus, some models have a lightweight design and can fit into small spaces.

Treadmill training can be safer than running outside in certain circumstances, but you still need to watch your form and follow basic safety rules. "You walk into the gym and see guys messing with their phones while running on the treadmill," physical therapist Michael Silverman told Men's Journal. "They are distracted and can easily wind up at the back of the treadmill without realizing it," he added. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the most common mistake people make when running indoors.

Wearing the wrong type of footwear can lead to painful injuries

Most fitness enthusiasts give little thought to the type of footwear they wear when using a treadmill. Some opt for a pair of sneakers or walking shoes without considering the impact of running on the joints. "Running on a treadmill in the wrong shoes can cause injuries to the hips and knees," warns personal trainer Alice Williams (via Eat This, Not That!). She recommends choosing a pair of running shoes that support your feet and ankles.

Treadmill training is a high-impact exercise and therefore, it can put stress on your joints. "Unlike running outside, the constant pace on a treadmill is unnatural. [This] is why this prolonged stress of each step can be detrimental to your knee," says exercise psychologist Jerry Snider (via Aaptiv). Moreover, wearing the wrong shoes can lead to Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, or pain in the hips, notes Pro-Form

Ideally, opt for cushioned running shoes that fit the arch of your foot, suggests Nike. Make sure they provide side arch support and keep your heel and ankle in place during running. For optimal comfort, choose a pair of shoes with foam or gel cushioning, which helps absorb shock. Some models feature nitrogen-infused foam and other advanced technologies, but you don't need to go that far. What matters most is to ensure the shoe fits properly and has just enough cushioning to reduce the impact on your joints.