Whether you prefer to run on the treadmill or out on the road, everyone has their own preference on how they like to get in their miles. The truth is there are pros and cons to both. There are definitely some types of workouts you can do better or more efficiently on a treadmill. However, running on a treadmill can create that aimless, never-ending ‘hamster wheel’ feeling for some. It depends on your goals, injury history, and preference.
One of the biggest problems with running on treadmills is that it can be boring. The best playlist or channel lineup can be overcome by that clock directly in front of you—seeing that only 30 seconds have passed since the last time you checked it. Running on a treadmill is not the same as running on the road, and people can injure themselves if they do not recognize the difference. Some ways to avoid injury are set your treadmill to a 2% incline, which helps the treadmill mimic the outside ground. Always wear the proper shoes while running. Shoes should fit properly, absorb shock, and be specifically designed for running. Lastly, always warm up and cool down before and after a run. This allows proper blood flow and prevents tightening of muscle which can lead to pain and injury.
When running outside, the time naturally seems to move faster because the landscape is passing by. Plus, you set a literal finish line for your run and see it getting closer and closer as you approach it. This provides you with a more natural sense of distance and will give you that extra push to finish strong when you feel like giving up. To prevent injury while running always stretch to improve and maintain your flexibility. Stay hydrated during your run and warm up and cool down before and after all runs and races. Gradually increasing your mileage, the progression should not be a steady increase in volume and intensity, but instead should be a staircase progression.
Running outside provides a refreshing twist to the mundane “hamster wheel” effect that has often been used to describe constant treadmill usage. Additionally, your running stride is much different on the road than it is on the treadmill belt as each form uses different leg muscles. Treadmill belt movement finishes the stride cycle for your body and relies on quads to push off for the next cycle. In comparison, with no belt, your hamstrings are finishing the stride cycle and your quads are still pushing off for the next cycle. Outdoor jogging uses muscles more uniformly and also builds a stronger muscle tolerance.
For runners who have any health problems or physical limitations, using a treadmill is the safer and more preventative option. All elements are controllable and the deck of a quality treadmill is much more forgiving than the hard pavement when it comes to the impact on the body. Treadmills are great for those wanting to stay in shape but aren’t looking to compete or drastically change body composition. Whether you prefer the road or the treadmill, injuries can arise at any time if you do not prepare properly. Here at Cornerstone Foot & Ankle, we treat all types of running injuries, so if an injury should arise we are here for you!