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Can A Treadmill Cause Back Pain?

Treadmill Running

By Simon Gould

No exercise program or activity is without its risks. You should also check with your physician before undertaking any exercise program especially something vigorous. Treadmills are certainly better than most for the back. A treadmill workout may be advised in some cases to help alleviate back pain. So can a treadmill actually cause back pain?

Reasons a treadmill may cause back pain

Bad posture or running form is the most common. You need to run like you run outside and not hold onto the bars as you go or slouch. I've done an extensive page on how to use the proper form on a treadmill. And for beginners I have the 7 most common running mistakes beginners make on a treadmill.

If you use an incline, it should be brief and not for long periods as this can cause back pain. To mimic the treadmill to being outside the research by The Journal Of Sports Sciences says you should set the incline at 1%. If you have any kind of back pain or spine problem then you're better off walking on a treadmill instead of running.

Treadmill Running
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Being on a treadmill should be no different to walking or running outside. You don't see never ending hills outside so you shouldn't be on a never ending steep incline on a treadmill. All of the above still applies if you experience lower, upper back pain or on your shoulders. Check your posture, running form and don't continue running if your back feels sore. Seek medical help.

How to prevent back pain in the future

You should definitely carry on exercising when you're not sore and there are things you can do to help prevent pain coming back. Wear proper running shoes. This is essential if you're running outside and even on a treadmill too. The treadmill maybe nice and cushioned for runners and walkers but you still need to prevent any feet, shin or joint problems that can occur without the proper shoe.

There are 3 types of running shoe and these are usually identified by what type of foot arch you have. I have compiled a detailed page on why you need running shoes on a treadmill. That page also explains the types of shoe you need and where they can be bought. There is a reduction in impact affecting you with the right shoes.

Treadmill Running

The most important thing to do is listen to your own body, before and after being on a treadmill. This is especially the case for people new to exercising. A treadmill can be forgiving but if you start to quickly or for too long a time. You may start having aches and pains you're not used to. You are the best judge as to what hurts and how far you can train. Just start slowly and build up.


If you experience any sharp pain anywhere while exercising on a treadmill stop straight away and see medical help. If you haven't exercised for a while you may experience soreness in the legs but back pain is not something you should have. You need to find out the cause first of all and if that means contacting a sports spine rehabilitation center then that might be the best for you.

You need to warm up and cool down for a treadmill workout if that isn't something you already do. Walk fast for 5 minutes if you normally jog. And jog for 5 minutes if you normally run. You prepare your body for the exercise it's about to do. You're supposed to enjoy your exercise and it makes you healthier. So listen to your body, relax on the treadmill, look forward not down and you should be ok.

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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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Please see a health care professional before undertaking any exercise program.
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