Are Treadmill Declines Worth Using? (Answered)

Treadmill Running

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By Simon Gould

Treadmills built with a decline are now becoming more common. You never saw them a few years ago. There is not usually very much in the way of gradient. You usually see about 3%. They may help you simulate a race that has a downhill section but are they worth using? Is a decline on a treadmill something you should use? We answer that here.

Declines are bad for the joints

Running down a hill puts a lot of strain on your joints. You can feel it when you run outside that there is a large shock that goes through the leg when you land running downhill. You land heel fist and the foot transmits a big force as you land. This doesn't happen when you run on flat or uphill. This has to be absorbed and it's your joints that do that.

For this reason if you have a treadmill that does a decline we would advise that you use it sparingly. It's fortunate that they don't usually have much of a gradient because of the problems they can cause. Just like you shouldn't run excessively on a treadmill incline we would say the same for a decline, even though that maximum could be 3%.

By doing some strength training it would help ease any of the soreness from running both downhill and uphill. Your tendons that connect your tissues together get strengthened as well when do weight bearing activities and anaerobic exercise. We have some strength training routines, they don't take long and can make a difference.

Do you need a decline treadmill?

I personally think companies started offering treadmills that have a decline as just a feature to increase sales. They really don't benefit your workouts much and only increase the expense of the machine. If you really want to practice going downhill, you're better off doing it outside. It's more realistic for your body.

I've only ever seen a maximum decline of 3%. Yet inclines are usually 15% and you can get 40%. They really don't make treadmills that can decline any more, there's just no demand for them. You're better off buying a treadmill that can offer streaming classes.

Treadmill incline compared to a decline

An incline is far more widely available on treadmills. Inclines and declines affect the walker or runner in different ways. They work different muscle groups. If you're due to exercise on a hill then it may be worth getting some practice on a treadmill. Some expert runners may get some benefit from having a decline, but for most of us, they're not needed.

Inclines are useful because they can make your exercise harder while going at the same speed. This way you burn more calories. You don't get this benefit with a decline. If you want to make your workout easier, just drop the speed instead of using a decline.

Running downhill tips

For those who do have a treadmill that has a decline and are using it to prepare for a race with a downhill section. There are ways to make it less stressful on the body. It makes sense to practice on your treadmill. Ease into it, don't suddenly do large sections of your treadmill run downhill.

You will find running on a decline builds your quads. Your stride will be quicker and shorter. We all know how our running gait seems to change when we deal with hills. I always don't recommend using the incline too much, the same goes with the decline. Limit your use to once a week to reduce any muscle soreness you're likely to encounter.

Final thoughts

A decline is not good for your joints and you shouldn't use it for too long. I don't recommend you see this feature as making a treadmill any better as another. There are more important features to look for when choosing one. They're not being made much anymore and for good reason. There's just no real demand for them.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? See my top 3 recommended treadmills for 2022

Meet The Author

Simon Gould

I'm Simon Gould. I've been around treadmills my whole life. From running on them at an early age to working in treadmill dept's of national stores. I've run outside and I've run on treadmills and I prefer running on treadmills. I still run on one nearly every day and love it.

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