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Using A Treadmill When Your Legs Are Sore

Treadmill Running

By Simon Gould

If you're a runner of nearly any distance and especially if you're new to running, you will have experienced some soreness in your legs. This is commonly known as delayed onset muscle soreness. It can happen when you have completed a longer distance than you normally do. You can usually feel it the next morning, it happens to me.

When not to use a treadmill with soreness

This is an obvious one but if you've completed a very long run than you're used to, or you've run a marathon the day before. Then it's wise not to use a treadmill at all the day after. Let the soreness go down and let some good recovery infiltrate those muscles. Where a marathon is concerned I would say don't do any exercise for 3 to 4 days afterwards.

The thing is science doesn't really understand what causes this soreness and there are plenty of myths about treating it, like massaging it away (that doesn't work). It's something you just have to give time to go. If you're desperate to exercise then walking on a treadmill could be done if you feel that will benefit you. Or try a bike or trainer.

Treadmill Running

The fashion these days is for sports people especially soccer players to take ice baths. This medical paper in the US National Library of Medicine says this is a possible strategy to help reduce the amount of soreness days that occur. There are also other methods proposed. I, personally, just let it recover naturally.

When it may be ok to use the treadmill with soreness

This is very much, listen to your body. I, after a 10k race, have felt a bit sore. But the next day I did a slow jog for a couple of miles on a treadmill just to keep my mileage up for that week. The soreness was mild and I felt I could train through it. A physio might disagree strongly with that but the soreness never stayed too long. If I had soreness the next day as well after a few miles then I would definitely take it easy that day.

You know your body best. If I had shin splints, that's a bit different. Damage can be done of you keep running with shin splints. I think a bit of muscle stiffness and soreness is all part of an exercise routine. Especially if you like to run races or long distances. A distance runner will often do their long run for the week on a Saturday or Sunday and have the next day off as their recovery day.

Treadmill Running


For any runner this delayed onset of muscle soreness is a regular occurrence that we need to deal with. I would say with any sharp pain or soreness that gets gradually worse, then a doctor should be seen. But as said before, pay attention to every feeling in your body, don't ignore anything. Just recognize what it could be and you'll know how to deal with it.

So the medical community don't really know what causes the soreness or treats it. We know it happens to people who exercised after a long break or after strenuous exercise. This soreness can occur from aerobic and anaerobic exercise. People who lift weights will recognize the soreness and we all need to be aware of over training to help prevent it.

Essential reading

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Related pages:


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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