If you want to know how to avoid knee pain while running on treadmill, this article will show you how to run safely on a treadmill.
There’s a misconception that running outside or on a treadmill hurts the knees. That couldn’t be further from the truth, research shows that running is good for your knees.
In fact, it’s safer to run on the treadmill than running outside. In this study, researchers found that running on treadmill reduced pressure on the foot and heels by 26 to 32 percent, compared to running on the ground.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get injured while running on a treadmill. Treadmills actually cause more injuries than any other exercise machine, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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Luckily, most treadmill injuries are avoidable. If you follow the tips below, you can avoid knee pain while running on treadmill.
How to avoid knee pain while running on a treadmill
1. Make short strides
You may be tempted to make longer strides in order to cover more distance but long strides increase the risk of knee pain.
When you extend your leg too far forward, you put excess pressure on the knee.
It’s safer to keep your strides short and quick. Short strides minimize the impact on the joints.
In a study involving 45 healthy adults in their early 30s, researchers found that making short strides significantly reduced the impact on the knees and reduced the risk of injury.
2. Lean slightly forward while running
Improving your form can help you avoid knee pain while running on treadmill.
According to this study, leaning slightly forward while running reduces pressure on the knees. This means that your knee won’t absorb a lot of shock in every stride you make.
It’s your ankles, not the hips that should be leaning forward. The ankles should be slightly bent as if you’re climbing a small hill.
3. Set treadmill on a moderate incline
You probably know that walking on incline can help you burn more calories. However, did you know that incline treadmill running could protect your knees?
Most people don’t know this but running on 0% incline is similar to running downhill, which puts more pressure on the knees than running on flat ground.
Setting the treadmill on a high incline isn’t safe either. It increases the shock on the knees and can even cause sharp knee pain.
A moderate incline of about 3% is the safest for your knees. Anything higher than that may not be safe for your knees.
4. Wear the right running shoes
Just because you’re running indoors doesn’t mean you should run barefoot or wear any type shoes.
Wearing the right running shoes helps absorb shock, which reduces the impact on the knees. Your running shoes should fit well and be well cushioned.
If you’re not sure which running shoes to buy ask for advice from an expert at the sports store.
5. Use a well-maintained treadmill
Treadmills lose shock-absorbing abilities as time goes by. This means that an old treadmill has more impact on the knees than a new or well-maintained treadmill.
If you don’t want to buy a new treadmill, consider replacing the belt. Using treadmill lubricant can also help.
6. Strengthen your knees
Strengthening muscles that stabilize the knees helps lower risk of knee pain. Do exercising that strengthen the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
It’s also important to do stretches that relieve knee pain, especially if you have bad knees.
You may want to avoid squats since they put excess pressure on the knees. Instead, do squat alternatives that don’t hurt the knees.
7. Maintain proper form
A poor running form is one of the main reasons people experience knee pain while running on the treadmill.
We’ve already talked about making short strides and leaning forward while running. The other important thing is to keep your back and torso straight.
Don’t bend your torso forward in an attempt to lean forward. Remember that only your ankles should bend forward.
You should also engage your abdominal muscles while running. Lastly, keep the shoulders relaxed and pull them back.
8. Warm up before running
You should get your body into workout-mode with light exercises before running. Jumping on the treadmill right away can hurt your knees.
Walking on the treadmill for 5 to 10 minutes can give you a good warm up. These warm-up exercises can also get you into workout-mode.
9. Walk instead of running
Running has a higher impact on the knees compared to walking. You may even want to stop running if you have severe knee pain.
Walking is a safer exercise, which can keep you in shape. Walk for 30 to 45 minutes, at least 3 times a week.
10. Don’t hold on to the handrails
Did you know that holding on to treadmill handrails makes your workout less rewarding?
Furthermore, holding the handrails can ruin your form and as a result, increase the risk of knee pain. If you’re too tired, reduce your speed instead of holding the handrails.
11. Lose weight
Being overweight puts excess pressure on the knees while running. This means that morbidly obese people are more likely to experience knee pain while running on the treadmill.
Losing weight will help reduce pressure on the joints. In fact, one study found that losing one pound could take off 4 pounds of pressure on the knees.
12. Don’t run every day
It’s important to rest and recover. Running on the treadmill every day can strain the knees and cause pain.
Learn to listen to your body, if your joints and muscles are aching, rest for 1 or 2 days. Generally, you want to rest for at least 2 days a week.
You won’t suffer knee pain if you run properly on the treadmill. Your knees will actually end up being stronger.
Other than following the tips above, you need to avoid using the phone, watching TV, or chatting with friends while running on the treadmill. These habits are the main causes of treadmill injuries.
Do you know other ways to avoid knee pain while running on treadmill?