Using your treadmill

Where should I put it?
Preferably downstairs on a solid, level floor. A typical treadmill can weight 14st. Combine that with the impact of three times your bodyweight, which running generates, and a treadmill in an upstairs room can shake the house with well over 40st of shock. Try to put the motor end of the treadmill nearest a wall, where the floor is strongest. And before you buy, make sure you actually have room for a treadmill. You should allocate at least the space that a single bed would take up.

What maintenance will I need to do?
You’ll need to lubricate the underside of the belt periodically, otherwise the motor will wear out prematurely by trying to overcome friction. Lubrication takes a matter of seconds using spray or wax grains – there’s no dismantling involved – and few manufacturers require you do it more than once every few months. You should also take care to wear clean shoes, as dirt and grit can get under the belt and scratch the deck.

How long should a home treadmill last?
Typically, 7-12 years, with 10 years about average. Of course, with proper care, some treadmills far exceed the average. With neglect, even the expensive ones die young. Dust, grit and lack of lubrication are innocuous treadmill-killers. Once a week, take a dry cloth and wipe up any dust between the belt and deck. Also keep the floor around your treadmill clean and free of dust.

Is treadmill running the same as ‘normal’ running?
Nearly. It’s still one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can do, but there are some differences. Corrective exercise therapist Jon Bowskill explains:

  1. You’ll appear to be going faster on the treadmill than the road, because the treadmill’s belt is moving in your favour. To make the effort comparable to road running, set the gradient to 1-2 degrees.
  2. You’ll be underusing your gluteals, hamstrings and lower back muscles because you don’t have a static surface to push off from as you run. You’ll need to do excercises strengthen them separately.
  3. You’ll also need to stretch your iliotibial band and hip flexors thoroughly, as they get overworked by compensating for the underuse of the muscles we’ve just mentioned.
  4. To keep your muscles properly balanced, you should do at least some of your running outside. Running on the road will seem extremely hard if your gluteals, hamstrings and lower back muscles have become weakened through exclusive treadmill training.

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