This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in January of 2021. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6k0Pk-2hN4&t=297s
Bob: Today we're going to talk about treadmill workouts, are they five star or do they do more harm than good? You must see this.
Brad: Yeah, Bob and I have used treadmills extensively over the years and we both decided separately that we're going to stop using the treadmill this winter because there are some concerns we have about it. So we're going to give you the advantages and disadvantages so you can decide for yourself if you want to continue to use one.
Bob: We'll give you the lowdown.
Brad: That's right.
Bob: All right, here we go.
Brad: Let's go, Bob. So as I mentioned, we both use treadmills a lot and we decided not to this year. My biggest concern was, last year I really used it a lot and I started getting hamstring problems and strains. And to be honest with you, I don't know if it was from using the treadmill more and more or not, but it got me thinking about it. Then there were some other things after I started doing some research on it that I think it's going to be really a good thing for me to find some other options.
Bob: And there are a lot of options and we'll go over some of those in future videos.
Brad: Exactly, I've got one. I'm excited to give. So let's go through, first we're going to go through some advantages. And we'll share the list and then some disadvantages and they kind of counter each other in certain areas and some not. Obviously big advantage, no weather issues. And that's why if you live up North or Wisconsin, Minnesota, lot of people don't like running in the snow.
Bob: I don't mind running in the cold, unless it gets really cold, but I don't like slippery roads. There's been years where it's been slippery almost all winter long. We've had a really good winter so far. I run outside every day now.
Brad: People in Florida don't care about that.
Bob: Yeah, they don't care about that.
Brad: The next thing, they're adjustable inclines, so you can run up the hill if you want, you can run on the flat if you want. One thing I found out, I wasn't aware of and maybe treadmill people are, is you're running on the flat on a treadmill and the motorized belt is kind of helping you, so to compensate for that, you go up one percent in gradient.
Bob: Yeah, we were just talking about it, on my treadmill I don't know if that's 1%, but I have always naturally gone up one level.
Brad: To compensate for that.
Bob: I don't know. It's just, I felt like I was almost falling forward when it was level, I had to get good grip.
Brad: Okay. They're saying that you're going to do that 1%, slight increase to compensate for that more resistance that you would naturally have outdoors. Number three, less impact. Some treadmills are better than others but I think in my mind, all treadmills because they're suspended a little bit they're going to have a little give as opposed to running on concrete or blacktop.
Bob: You know I broke three treadmills? I broke the deck on it.
Brad: You have to be careful Bob.
Bob: I know, but I weighed 200 some pounds and I'm pounding, and all of a sudden it would give way in the middle, and I broke the deck
Brad: If the treadmill is accepting that kind of impact, just think what your joints are. It works both ways. But anyways, less impact on a treadmill versus hard concrete or blacktop, if you're a road runner. Number four, now this is a theory, I read about it in an article and I could see where it may be true, but I don't know for sure. They actually promote a 4' running, leaning forward running with a shorter stride length, which is all consistent with improved speed with your running and less impact on your joints.
Bob: Less impact on the joint.
Brad: So it's a good thing again, that's a theory.
Bob: I'm not sure if I buy that one or not.
Brad: When you were just saying you elevated yours a little bit because it made you feel like you were leaning forward.
Bob: So maybe it does.
Brad: Anyways, the next one, good objective information. I don't think anybody can disagree with this.
Bob: Yeah, you know if you're improving and because you everything's the same.
Brad: You look at your speed. I used to do interval work on it. I would run fast, run slow, run fast. And I could do that very specific distances and keep an accurate and consistent workout, which is really nice. I think there's a big advantage and I really did enjoy that, and plus it made it less boring for me. And nowadays, actually another point, is you can do whole programs with a TV screen and run through the Alps if you want. You see the pictures there and then have different speeds and have a whole program already interjected into the software that may last 10 or 12 weeks. And keeps you motivated to stay with it. And then of course cardio. They're going to get your heart rate up; you're going to get good cardio benefits just as you would outside. Now let's go to the disadvantages.
Bob: I want to tell one more advantage Brad. This is just anecdotally, but patients that I had that would use a treadmill versus a bike, a stationary bike, they seemed like they stuck with the treadmill longer than the stationary bike.
Brad: Oh really?
Bob: Yeah. Again, it's anecdotally, but it was almost across the board, people got a treadmill, they'd use it. But they were walking.
Brad: And I think there is, between the walker treadmill users and the non-walkers, but still most of these apply to both,
less impact when you walk of course. And of course, the whole thing about the body running form when you walk, does not exist. So, for walkers maybe more advantages to treadmill. Disadvantages. Everyone probably agrees with this is they're boring. Everyone. They're just boring and you get a TV, it helps, but you're still, you can't pay attention to the TV too much because you have to pay attention where you are on the treadmill.
Bob: Yeah you do and it's funny because I'm looking down, looking up, I'm looking down, looking up.
Brad: Which leads me to point number two, and this is, I got some facts on this, they're dangerous, they can be very dangerous, people can fall. In 2015, I couldn't find anything from '18 or '19, and so I pulled this up from '15. I have a feeling it's similar, 24,400 doctor visits from treadmill falls.
Bob: This the United States or what?
Brad: Yeah, United States. That's a lot.
Bob: I fell and this is why I fell, there's a key on there, a safety key.
Brad: Oh sure.
Bob: And you're supposed to clip it to you but I didn’t and it just came loose. So I'm running and all of a sudden it just stopped. And I remember, I just like, what happened? And all of a sudden I fell right down, then when I hit the floor, I was thinking it was going to scoot me back, but it didn't. I was like, why did it stop?
Brad: You didn't get hurt?
Bob: I didn't get hurt.
Brad: You were one of the fatalities.
Bob: I was 59 years old when that happened.
Brad: Oh really? Quite a few years ago. Just kidding.
Bob: Wait a minute.
Brad: Anyways, yeah, so they are dangerous. If you go on YouTube and hit falls on treadmills, you're going to see all kinds of falls on them. They're not even funny, but I guess it's very dangerous. So anyways, kids go on them and play with them and they fall. But they bounce off usually pretty good but I'm sure sometimes they do not. So there is that part to think about. The next thing, the belt is motorized, we alluded to this before. So that changes your running form or changes the muscle, how do we call it? The muscle synergy, how things should work. This is different than running outside. So in some ways it could weaken your muscles so that when you change to outdoor running you don't get the maximum crossover that possible.
Bob: I know there's always a big challenge going from the treadmill to outside again.
Brad: In the spring.
Bob: Yep, absolutely.
Brad: So, you don't get that good crossover, the leg and the foot, particularly the foot and the ankle. Now this is something that I hadn't thought about before but once I thought about it and read it, it's like, it makes perfect sense. You're running on a very consistent flat surface. When you're running outside, it's not true. Especially if you're trail running, there's all kinds of variations on the surface.
Bob: Or even just the camber of the road
Bob: Camber of the road, you're running uphill, you're running downhill. Very much different.
Bob: So even from a proprioception, in a sense, being able to tell where your foot is without looking at it. It's taxing it more.
Brad: You're going to lose strength in muscles, in your ankle that deal with lateral motions versus that consistent treadmill motion. So there's that to think of. Number five, lack of outdoor stimulation.
Bob: That's what I miss when I can't run outdoors. And I love that.
Brad: And it's not just a psychological thing, there's other benefits.
Bob: There are studies on it. Especially if you can run in nature, that's the biggest.
Brad: You get away from all the hustle and bustle and the cars going by.
Bob: You get your vitamin D from the sun, little harder in the winter but, it's just so much better. I even like to get out in the winter, we call a cryotherapy, my wife and I. We don't cry. It's cold therapy.
Brad: Cold, yeah.
Bob: And it's good you.
Brad: In cooler weather you get out, I'll usually run with just shorts on, unless it gets below 20. If it's windy, I'll put pants on. My neighbors talk sometimes, but anyways, the outdoor, the visual stimulation, that sun, the air, all that, things to me is just so relaxed.
Bob: I miss it so much when we don’t do it.
Brad: And I like running up a hill is just a lot better than tilting the treadmill up I think. And of course, another big disadvantage, if you're thinking about buying one for your house. There's the CRS and it's not, can't remember, it's clothes rack syndrome. Liz and I were talking before this and we decided that at least 50% of the people probably a lot more end up after six months or a year, they hang their clothes on to dry more than they're using it. You could easily spend $500, $1,000, on a good treadmill and you don't want to have it for a clothes rack. So, go out and use one at a gym somewhere before you buy them.
Bob: We had a running joke, among I and a bunch of friends, we had all bought dip bars. And so our joke was yeah, you're hanging your clothes on it now.
Brad: I think there's other things you could use for that dip bar that would be really handy. So treadmills, they're fantastic, some disadvantages, some advantages. But hopefully this will get you thinking of different things you haven't thought of before that may help you out in making a decision to continue or to start or to buy one. So be aware on that purchase.
Bob: Sounds good, thanks Brad.
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