Six mistakes you don’t want to make on the treadmill

January 3, 2013

It's no big secret that home treadmills can give you a chance to shed those excess pounds and even improve your overall health at the same time. However, if you want to see these results, it's vital to use the equipment in a way that helps your body rather than hurts it. There are a few common mistakes that avid treadmill users fall prey to that can turn a potentially successful workout upside down. Avoid these treadmill blunders to stay in shape and really pump up your workout:

Relying on the handrails
The rails on the sides of the treadmill really slow down your body's ability to get a proper workout if you're constantly holding onto them. Although the rails may be tempting at times when you get fatigued, try to push through it. Your body will be better for it.

"When you hold onto the rails, you're holding your weight up, and not using your legs to hold your weight up," explained fitness manager Jennifer Poulsen of 24 Hour Fitness. "In that case, you're not getting your heart rate up, and you're not burning enough calories."

If you're really in need of a break, ignore those handrails and simply slow down your pace again until you feel you can pick up speed.

Bad posture
If you're walking or running on the treadmill with bad posture, you may be burning calories, but you also may be giving yourself back problems. SelfGrowth.com said that many people tend to lean forward and hunch over on their treadmill during their workout. This can cause damage to the muscles in your back and create other problems later on. According to Arthritis Today, you should instead walk naturally, just as you would outside.

Ignoring the incline
Even if you're moving at a swift pace, you may not be going as fast as you think you are. When you run outside, the terrain and weather, such as natural wind resistance contributes to a more intense run. The incline on a treadmill sometimes does part of the work for you. Therefore, Active recommended adding a one or two percent incline to increase your pace and give you an extra push. Increasing the incline also gives your leg muscles a better workout!

Exercising without tunes
Although you may not realize it, listening to music can actually help improve your workout in a few ways.

"Listening to music while walking on the treadmill can improve focus, relieve stress and boost motivation," explained Arthritis Today.

If you're anything like the rest of us, motivation is sometimes hard to come by on the treadmill. It's easy to want to just give up or slow down. Music provides a way to keep you going and improve your fitness level. Try creating a playlist before hopping on the treadmill of all your favorite songs that will give you that extra push you need to finish your workout.

A choppy stride
Short, choppy steps on the treadmill won't get you very far. Some individuals tend to change their running technique because they're on a machine rather than outdoors. However, it's important to maintain the same pace and running techniques on both. Try taking natural strides on a treadmill instead. Pei Road Runners said that overstriding is a common mistake.

Getting off the treadmill
When you get tired and want a drink of water, it's many people's first instinct to step off the treadmill and rest on the sides. However, this may be doing damage to your joints and disrupts the flow of your workout, according to Active. Instead, you should simply reduce your speed so you can take a quick breather, grab a drink of water and be back on your way to a better workout. Once you step on the sides for a break, it's easy to lose that motivation that you worked so hard to maintain in the first place.