Treadmills are great for improving your health and body composition if used right. But when things go wrong, they can be quite dangerous. They have belts that spin at pretty high speeds after all. Luckily there are some easy things you can do to stay safe.
Let’s dive into which safety precautions you can take to prevent injuries and what to absolutely avoid doing.
- 1 Why Safety Precautions are Important On A Treadmill
- 2 7 Treadmill Safety Do’s
- 3 5 Treadmill Safety Don’t’s
Why Safety Precautions are Important On A Treadmill
While treadmills can be an important part of your fitness regimen, treadmills can also be dangerous if not used properly. In 2019, U.S. emergency departments reported around 22,500 treadmill-related injuries, including 2,000 to children under eight years of age.
A moving treadmill will throw you backwards when you fall and this can obviously be quite dangerous.
Following a few simple safety tips reduces the risk of accidents but also prevents injuries to yourself and others, protects the treadmill, and helps you feel safe for better workouts.
To avoid accidents using a treadmill, I recommend following these guidelines.
7 Treadmill Safety Do’s
Here are 7 things you should do on a treadmill to stay safe:
1. Find The Stop Button
Before starting your workout, locate the treadmill’s emergency stop button. It’s pretty much always a large, red, button in the middle of the console that says ‘stop’. Pushing this button will immediately stop the motor and the treadmill will come to a stop in a few seconds.
Knowing how to stop the machine quickly is essential in case of any issues.
2. Use the Safety Clip
Always wear the safety clip or attach the safety key to your clothing while using the treadmill. This is the little clip that you can connect to your clothes and is usually located at the bottom of the console.
If you were to trip and/or fall, the clip will pull on the rope and this pulling motion has the same effect as pushing the stop button, it stops the motor immediately. This is a crucial safety feature that stops the treadmill in case of a fall or stumbles.
3. Start Slow
Begin your workout at a slow and comfortable pace, especially if you’re new to treadmill workouts. Gradually increase the speed and intensity as you warm up and become more comfortable. Even if you’re used to running, always start at walking speed and slowly increase the speed and incline to where you want to be.
Starting slow has multiple benefits.
4. Wear Shoes
Exercise on the treadmill with appropriate athletic shoes that provide proper support and traction. Avoid using the treadmill barefoot or in non-athletic footwear. Treadmills aren’t built to be used without shoes. The damping is nowhere near good enough and there is a small chance toes could get caught between the belt and the deck.
5. Maintain Your Treadmill
Regularly follow the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines for your treadmill. This includes lubricating the belt, tightening bolts, and addressing any repair needs promptly. A well-maintained treadmill is safer and more reliable.
6. Put the Treadmill in a Safe Spot
Position your treadmill in a safe location with ample space around it. Ensure there are no obstacles or hazards nearby that could lead to accidents. The best spots for treadmills are dry, have a stable temperature, are away from pets and kids, and is in a place where you feel comfortable.
7. Don’t Get Distracted
Stay focused during your workout. Avoid using your phone, or reading while on the treadmill. While walking, this is usually fine but when running, this can easily lead to missteps, stumbles, and falls.
5 Treadmill Safety Don’t’s
Here are 5 things you should absolutely NOT do. Don’t:
1. Step on a Running Belt
Never step onto a moving treadmill belt. Always step on a treadmill when it’s stopped and start from there. It can be hard to judge how fast a belt is spinning and get up to speed in an instant.
If you don’t get up to speed quickly enough, the treadmill belt will throw you backward with all the potential dangers that come with that.
Okay, almost everyone has done this, especially on HIIT workouts where you want to quickly get to sprinting speeds. However, this is the most dangerous thing you can do on a treadmill so be aware. Always hold on to the handrails when you do this. Put all your weight on your hands and ‘spin’ up your legs to the correct speed before letting go.
2. Start Too Fast
Avoid starting your workout at a high speed. Gradually increase the speed as you warm up. Starting too fast can lead to loss of balance or accidents. Also, when you’re not warm yet, it’s easy to hurt yourself when starting quickly.
3. Overexert Yourself
Don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you’re a beginner. Overexertion can lead to muscle strain, fatigue, or loss of balance. Start at an intensity level that matches your fitness and gradually increase it. If you start feeling dizzy, stop immediately. Falling on a running treadmill is dangerous.
4. Neglect Maintenance Needs
Regularly maintain your treadmill as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Neglecting maintenance can result in safety hazards and shorten the treadmill’s lifespan.
A big one is belt lubrication. Many people forget to do this and it puts a lot of extra stress on things. The belt and deck will wear faster, the motor has to work harder and possibly overheat.
Safety-wise, the problem with a not well-maintained treadmill is that it slows down with every footfall. This causes an unstable belt speed and dramatically increases the chance of stumbling. It also just doesn’t feel good to run on a treadmill like that.
5. Let Pets or Children Near the Treadmill
Keep pets and children away from the treadmill during workouts. The moving parts can be dangerous if they get too close. Ensure a safe distance and supervise them if in the exercise area.
Every year 2000 children under 8 years old get injured by treadmills. I couldn’t find any numbers for animals but I imagine they’re in the same ballpark or higher. That means this isn’t a risk to be taken lightly.