12 Tips To Safely Run on a Treadmill

Person safely running on a treadmill


By Simon Gould

Treadmills are fantastic pieces of equipment to help us lose weight and get healthy. But they don’t come without risks. While they don’t happen often, accidents do occur. You’re exercising on a limited deck and sometimes at high speeds. There is a risk of falling off if you’re not careful. So here I’ve compiled 12 tips to help prevent you falling, and reduce any injury if you do.

1. Maintain a good posture

Don’t look down at your feet even though you may want to. Looking down will cause you to lose balance and fall off. Once you get going look straight ahead with your head up, and keep your shoulders back. Allow your arms to swing freely at your side. Exercise as if you’re doing it outside. Treadmill decks are designed for everyone to use, so try not to be too concerned about falling off.

2. Make sure the belt isn’t moving

Both when you get on and when you get off a treadmill, make sure the belt isn’t moving. This is especially the case when you get off. It’s easy to lose concentration when you’ve finished your workout, you press the stop button and immediately step off. This may be too soon, the belt sometimes needs a few seconds to come to a rest. Allow it to come to a full stop, then step off.

3. Don’t hold onto the handrails

When exercising it’s not good to hold onto the handrails because your posture and form suffers. You don’t burn as many calories and you’re not working as hard. Try to keep your hands off and use the handrails. Hold onto the handrails if you feel you need to as a last precaution to stop you from falling, however tempting it may be to hold on when the going gets tough.

4. Don’t go too fast

One sure way of falling off is by setting the speed to more than you’re capable of. Pace your self and increase the speed slowly in small increments. Have someone “spot” you by being with you if you’re attempting any speed you haven’t tried before. Beware of the treadmill top speed, they’re often around 12 mph and that’s really fast, a lot faster than you may think.

5. Stop if you feel dizzy

If you feel dizzy before or while you’re on a treadmill, then stop immediately. You shouldn’t feel dizziness while exercising and it’s a sign that something could be wrong. It may not be serious but until you know what, hold onto the handrails and press the stop key. There could be many reasons for it, but whatever it is, get off the treadmill before you fall off.

6. Don’t exercise if you feel tired

If you feel really tired or fatigued, you may be better off taking the day off and starting again tomorrow. If it’s affecting your concentration, you may not be 100% stable on the treadmill. The same is true of you’re doing a long run. If you’re starting to feel your posture is affected because you’re so fatigued, then this is when accidents can happen.

7. Beware of loose clothing

You may prefer wearing loose clothing especially if you sweat a lot when you exercise. Fashion changes quickly and sometimes baggy clothing comes on trend. But for working out they’re not suitable. It may catch in the frame or deck. The deck moves and if your clothing catches you’re going to be pushed forward and downward. It’s something to think about before your treadmill run.

8. Stay hydrated

This one is tied in with dizziness and fatigue, because lack of hydration can cause both. Sometimes we don’t know when it’s affecting us, it can creep up slowly. If you know you’re got a treadmill run planned, make sure you have plenty of liquids before, during and after. Pay particular attention during the Summer months.

9. Double tie your shoe laces

A moving treadmill deck would be an unfortunate place to get your shoe laces stuck. Not only that, you could fall by tripping on your laces whether they get trapped or not. Modern running shoes tend to have short laces but if your footwear hasn’t, then consider double tying them for an extra safety precaution. It doesn’t take long.

10. Use the safety key

This is the cord that you attach to a part of your clothing and the treadmill itself. It stops the belt if the connection is broken. While this won’t prevent any falls, it’s a great for injury prevention. If you do fall, and the belt keeps moving, you could suffer nasty friction burns. You could be propelled against a wall at speed. The safety key prevents all this.

11. Give treadmill clearance on all sides

While the safety key can help prevent you being propelled into a wall, it would be nice if the wall wasn’t there in the first place. You do this by having clearance or space around the treadmill. You should have 2 feet at the front and sides and 6 feet behind. This sometimes isn’t easy in small rooms, but that’s the ideal space you need.

12. Check for any recalls

A manufacturer may notice after a product has gone on sale that there may be safety problems with it. These may be serious enough to require a product recall. A famous one recently was Peloton, a young child died from one of their treadmills and they recalled the entire product line. Faults are found on products after sale all the time, so an occasional check for your treadmill might be a good idea.

What to do if you fall off a treadmill

If you fall and the treadmill is still moving try and roll away from it. Otherwise stay still for a few minutes and see if you’re hurt anywhere. Get up slowly if you feel you can and assess the situation. If people are around they will come to your aid, but don’t let them move you straight away. If you’re on your own, make sure your phone is always near in case you need emergency help.

Final thoughts

While most falls will be minor, there are actually a few deaths every year from using a treadmill. When you consider over 50 million people in the US use one, the risk is extremely small. Think about my tips above and you’ll be safe and sound. I’ve run on a treadmill for over 30 years without a hint of a fall or accident happening, and I think most people would say the same.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.

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