Running on a Treadmill: 7 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

three people running on treadmills
Running on a treadmill doesn't need to be tedious or boring — but it should be safe! Here's what you need to know.

by Cheryl S. Grant

Whether you're a beginner gym-goer or an experienced fitness devotee, running on a treadmill is a safe and convenient way to get a fantastic cardio workout. This is especially true when the machine is equipped with lots of bells and whistles that can make your workout more challenging and interesting!

Treadmills have come a long way in recent years — some even offer the ability to stream from your favorite apps and on-demand workout programs while you exercise. Feeling energized and ready to run? Keep the following seven tips for treadmill running in mind!

1. Schedule Your Gym Time Strategically

First off, it's important to note that treadmills are often in high demand at the gym. You can avoid the stress of feeling like you need to quickly get on and off by skipping peak hours at your local fitness club. Exercising during off-peak hours can allow you to comfortably take your time. Check your gym's hours of operation and ask a staff member to find out what the least crowded times of the day are.

2. Start Slowly

Even if you're feeling as energized as an Olympian, you shouldn't attempt a 100-yard dash when you first get on the treadmill. It's a good idea to run slowly (or walk) for several minutes to warm up your muscles before ramping up your pace. The same advice applies to using the incline function — there's no need to start on level 10! Take it slow so you can avoid the risk of injury.

3. Be Wary of Your Phone Use

Listening to your favorite tunes can help the miles speed by, but using wired headphones while working out can get a little tricky. Try to keep wires and devices clipped to your clothing so they don't get tangled while you exercise. Also, it's a good idea to avoid texting or engaging in any conversations on your phone after the treadmill starts up — in order to get the best out of your workout and stay safe, you need to be focused!

4. Maintain Proper Posture

When exercising on the treadmill, always try to remain upright and straight. Failing to maintain proper posture while on the treadmill can result in neck and back pain. Staring at your feet can lead to the same issues. Additionally, try not to check the time and distance left in your workout too often, as doing so can affect your form. Envision a goal that lies straight ahead of you and try to focus on getting the best workout possible.

5. Pace Yourself

The treadmill's belt and surface are set up to help your knees and feet avoid injuries and pain, but you also need to set realistic goals for yourself. Always run at a pace you feel comfortable with, and do not push yourself to the absolute limit; this can cause you to lose control and fall. Give yourself time and move at your own pace.

6. Let It Go!

If you find yourself holding on to the treadmill's side rails, remember that doing so can cause you to hunch over and lead to pain in your neck and back muscles, or result in a less-than-stellar sweat session. Try to only use the rails to steady yourself if you feel you are slipping. If you need to hold the rails or are feeling tired, this may be an indication that you should reduce the speed and/or incline until you're feeling more comfortable.

7. Remember to Cool Down

As important as it is to warm up to avoid injuries, cooling down is just as vital! Stopping suddenly can cause you to feel dizzy because your blood pressure is forced to drop off after being revved up during the workout. It's best to gradually reduce your incline and speed so that you end your workout feeling healthy, stable, and strong — and motivated to keep your regimen going during the next gym visit.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.