When it comes to running, all surfaces are not created equal.
Indoor running not only gives you the promise of good weather, but when you take your indoor running to the treadmill in particular, you can also benefit from some unique advantages not found outdoors.
When you run outside, your surfaces range from unforgiving concrete to soft turf, all of which feel a little bit differently under your feet and legs. But when you run on a treadmill, you know what to expect from your foot strike, each and every time.
BUT HOW DO TREADMILLS WORK?
The treadmill has long been one of the most popular pieces of equipment at the gym, and that’s for good reason. It’s a smart tool, designed to give you a great workout with comfort.
On the treadmill, as your foot hits the belt, some of the impact is absorbed, reducing the stress on your hips, knees, ankles and other joints. And to make your run smoother, many treadmills today are built with cushioning and special technology to provide a solid running surface that is still pliable enough to absorb high-impact motion. (Much unlike the rocky roads you may find outdoors.)
The treadmill running deck is designed to absorb maximum shock at the front, where your foot-falls land, and these shock absorbers reduce the impact significantly, meaning you’re less likely to experience a stress injury.
NOT TOO HARD, NOT TOO SOFT
Precor Senior Product Manager, Doug Durnford, explained, “A great-feeling treadmill is a result of the cohesive balance of shock absorption and a drive system perfectly tuned to complement the exerciser’s natural stride. We want progressive cushioning at foot-plant, absorbing up a great percentage of impact force compared to road running.”
But there’s more to the treadmill experience than shock absorption. For one thing, the treadmill deck is actually sturdier in the back, which supports a strong push off so you don’t get that fatiguing sensation like you feel if you are running in sand. In addition to the nuance of design for foot-strike, some treadmills have technology that registers your foot speed and recalibrates the belt velocity up to 710 times per second to give you a smoother run. By making these minor adjustments, the belt speed syncs to your natural running stride.
Treadmill technology also gives you the power to control the incline and speed at which you’re running. This allows you to clearly track your progress and incrementally increase your training intensity without the guesswork that may come with road running. You can set clear goals and manipulate your effort with the touch of a dial.
Another benefit of treadmill training is the ability to precisely control your running environment. When you run outside, there are external variables that can affect your performance, such as wind, road debris, precipitation and of course, extreme temperatures. But when you run inside, your environment is stable and consistent.
Outdoor running is not bad by any means, but by supplementing your road runs with treadmill training utilizing the smart technology of the machine, you’re going a little easier on your joints. If you’ve never used a treadmill before and it seems right for your fitness plan, enjoy the marvels of modern engineering by trying one the next time you visit the gym.