Most good treadmills feature an adjustable incline that allows you to run uphill which burns more calories and activates more of your legs than running on a flat surface. You might have noticed that your treadmill already has an incline even before you start using it. Fear not, this is not a manufacturing error. It was very likely designed that way to better simulate overground running. We’re going to explore that in a bit more depth here to show you the difference between running outdoors and on a treadmill, as well as the best way to run on your treadmill.
The Biomechanics Of Running.
This is not a subject that can be easily condensed and simplified into a blog post. It’s something specialists spend years researching in laboratory conditions. The long and short of it is that studies have shown running on treadmills is easier than running outdoors. Various factors such as the motion of the legs and the connection of the foot with the ground are more conservative when running on a treadmill. In simpler terms, treadmill runners adopted a running style that was safer under the conditions. Think about it like this, when you run outdoors you control your speed and your stride length. On the treadmill the belt moves at a constant pace that you have to keep up with, so you adjust the way you run to match this pace.
Why The Incline?
Hopefully this makes it a little easier to understand, but it still doesn’t fully answer the question. So why does my treadmill have a natural incline? The incline that’s been built into your treadmill, as opposed to the one you can control, is there to better simulate running outdoors. That doesn’t mean that you’ll always be running on an incline outdoors. Rather, it’s an attempt to compensate for the decreased challenge of treadmill running and allow you to run at an equivalent speed with a more natural form. The alternative to this is a slight increase in speed but that’s more of a personal preference for individual runners.
How To Run On A Treadmill.
Hopefully now that the science is out of the way you’re not feeling too put off about running on a treadmill. The truth of the matter is they’re actually a lot better for you, your joints in particular, than running outside. A smooth belt and shock absorption limit the potential for injuries caused by hard, uneven surfaces. Running on a treadmill might take some getting used to but it’s worth it. Expect your strides to be shorter at lower speeds and you will likely lean forward into the run. At higher speeds or inclines your run should return to something closer to what you’re used to.
Working Out With A Treadmill.
Aside from the slight difference between running styles, which might not even be noticeable for novice runners, running on a treadmill can be very simple. Step on and start running. If you want to get the most out of your treadmill workout be sure to explore the extra features that your treadmill offers over outdoor running. The ability to control your incline for instance is a great way to activate more muscles and burn more calories. If your treadmill has preset workouts they are well worth your time. Running at a constant speed is a decent way to increase your heart rate and lose weight, but adding variety to your run with intervals of increased speed is a much more efficient way to burn calories. Be sure to read our Top Treadmill Workout Tips Here.
As with pretty much every other feature of the treadmill, the slight incline you see is there by design. Without all the scientific jargon, it’s there to better simulate running on a road. So why not just run on the road? Treadmills let you run in a controlled environment, they’re better on your joints, and many come packed with features that maximise the efficiency of your workout. Keep Running.