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Is It Bad to Run on Treadmills?

Running on a treadmill is one of the easiest and most time-efficient ways to complete your daily cardio exercise.

There are many benefits to running on a treadmill. For one thing, using a treadmill in a controlled environment is much safer than running in public spaces, especially if you usually only have time to exercise after work when it starts to get dark. 

Another advantage of using a treadmill is that you get to be in control of everything. From the speed to the incline, you can customize your cardio to suit your body and monitor your heart rate and pace while you do it!

However, running on a treadmill also comes with its fair share of risks. Today, we’ll be exploring whether running on a treadmill can be bad for you and where its advantages and disadvantages lie in terms of performance.

Is it Bad to Run Every Day on a Treadmill?

It’s difficult to categorically say that running on a treadmill every day is good or bad for you. This is because so much of the impact of running depends on how you go about it.

The general consensus from experts is that when used correctly and in moderation, running on a treadmill every day shouldn’t have any directly linked negative impacts on your physical health.

However, where daily running on a treadmill can get dangerous is if you’re overdoing it. Pushing yourself to run faster and longer than feels comfortable puts you at risk of injury or even certain health conditions.

One of the most common injuries related to repetitive running on a treadmill is muscular strain. Logically, you might think that the legs and feet are the body parts at the highest risk of strain from treadmill use. However, running too hard on your treadmill can actually damage your hips and back.

Strain in the hips and spine happens most often when runners slap their feet down heavily on the treadmill as they run. Running heavily can be a side effect of overdoing it on the treadmill since tiredness and dehydration can cause your energy and posture to suffer, leaving you with less spring in your step.

Paradoxically, running like this actually causes you to dispense more energy, making you feel more tired. It also throws off the alignment of the rest of your body, causing you to strain the muscles in your back and hips.

If you run on a treadmill every day at a comfortable pace, paying attention to how your body is feeling and what your posture looks like, you shouldn’t have any problems. However, running every day on a treadmill at an overly fast pace or with incorrect posture is a recipe for injury.

Is Treadmill Running Bad for Your Knees?

If you’ve been in the fitness community or industry for long enough, you’ll probably have heard that treadmills are bad for your knees. While there is definitely some truth to this, it’s also not quite as simple as this statement implies.

It’s definitely true that running at high speeds on a treadmill is considered a high-impact form of exercise. High-impact exercise is any exercise that requires both your feet to leave the ground at once. This kind of exercise can put pressure on your knee joints, resulting in pain.

With that being said, studies have shown that runners’ strides are typically shorter when using a treadmill than when running normally. The shorter stride length has been associated with decreased pressure on weight-bearing joints. So, running on a treadmill might actually be better for your joints than running outside.

In other ways, running on a treadmill can actually be good for your knees. Research conducted by scientists has demonstrated that the impact produced by the treadmill encourages healthy bone growth. This may help to prevent or minimize the symptoms of osteoporosis, especially in load-bearing joints like the knees.

Is it Harder to Run on a Treadmill or Outside?

Generally speaking, running on a treadmill is considered to be easier than running outdoors. The difference in difficulty is due to a variety of factors.

For one thing, when using a treadmill, you won’t have to contend with factors like wind speed and direction, which can significantly slow down your pace outside.

The movement of the treadmill belt also facilitates a faster pace, so if your goal is to run faster, a treadmill will help you to achieve this.

When you’re running outside, you’re also likely to encounter inclines and general changes in terrain that might impact your ability to run effectively. This isn’t a problem you’ll have to deal with on a treadmill.

Can You Run Longer on a Treadmill?

Many people find that they are able to run for longer on a treadmill than they can outdoors.

The reason runners generally find that their stamina for long distances increases on the treadmill because the treadmill is shortening their strides, demanding less energy from the hamstrings.

However, the demand from your quads is going to increase when using a treadmill because of the way your legs move on the belt compared to on a non-moving surface. This means that you might find your quads getting tired more quickly, which leads some runners to find that they actually can’t run for as long on the treadmill.

Even if you can run for longer on a treadmill than outside, however, you’re likely to get bored more quickly. Therefore, if you can, it’s always best to complete longer runs outside in the fresh air, somewhere you can enjoy the scenery.

Final Thoughts

Using a treadmill regularly, even every day, is unlikely to have negative consequences for your joints unless you overdo it or have bad posture.

Moreover, using a treadmill can actually help to improve bone density and combat conditions such as osteoporosis. 

Running on a treadmill is less demanding on your hamstrings but harder on your quads than running outside. Treadmills are ideal if you want to practice running at a faster pace, and some people find that they help them to run for longer. 

However, you should always try to get outside and benefit from fresh air and Vitamin D when you can. 

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