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7 Dangerous Mistakes You're Making on the Treadmill, Trainers Say

Don't let these common mistakes leave you down for the count.

Whether you like to hit your local gym or have a workout space in your home, walking or running on a treadmill is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health, burn calories, and improve your muscle tone. However, despite the user-friendliness of most treadmills, it's easy to find yourself making a critical mistake—and one that can leave you injured—while working out on one.

Before you accidentally sideline yourself, read on to discover the treadmill mistakes trainers say you should stop making immediately. And for more ways to transform your body, check out these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.

You don't warm up

Young black woman sitting on the floor at home stretching

While getting on the treadmill may seem like a warmup on its own, if you're not stretching before you hit the treadmill, you could be setting yourself up for injury.

"You may be tempted to just jump straight onto the treadmill and start running. But just like any form of physical exercise, you should do some dynamic stretches or start with a walk before you run. This helps to warm up your muscles and reduce the risk of injury," says Alice Williams, a personal trainer at U.K.-based OriGym.

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You run too close to the front of the machine

walking on treadmill

If you want to make sure you're getting the most from your workout, make sure you're running in the middle of the treadmill belt instead of the front.

Running on the front of the treadmill "means that you have a restricted arm swing and negatively impact your posture, as you will naturally lean back to avoid hitting the front of the belt," says Williams. "This can cause injuries such as lower back pain and puts strain on your shoulders."

You wear the wrong shoes

Woman putting on shoes

It's not just how you run that can affect the quality of your treadmill run—what you're wearing to exercise can have a major impact on your workout, too.

"Running on a treadmill in the wrong shoes can cause injuries to the hips and knees," says Williams. "It is therefore worth investing in a good pair of running shoes with a good amount of support."

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You support yourself on the handrails too much

person walking on treadmill while holding handrails
Shutterstock / Wunlop_Worldpix_Exposure

While the handrails of your treadmill are designed to offer support during your workout, relying on them to keep you propped up during your run could be doing more harm than good.

"Relying on holding the bar when running on a treadmill drastically reduces the benefits you get out of your workout, as you'll ultimately burn fewer calories," says Williams. "It also makes you run with bad form since you won't be using your arms, which can create tension in your neck, shoulders, and back."

You run on your heels

Woman running on treadmill

Though everyone has a unique gait, if your running style keeps you on your heels for the bulk of your jog, you could be putting yourself at risk for injury.

"You have probably heard the sound 'clink clonk clink' in the gym. That's most likely someone who is wearing headphones and running while they slam their feet heel first into the treadmill. This is extremely bad for your knees and back," says certified personal trainer and IFBB pro Nick Olsen, owner of x365 Fitness in Salt Lake City.

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You sidestep on the treadmill

group of adults walking sideways on the treadmill
Shutterstock / SofikoS

While you may have seen people sidestepping on the treadmill at the gym, experts say that doing so is almost always a bad idea.

"Sidestepping on a treadmill is one of those things you have to just laugh at when you see it. The limited space on a treadmill makes this practice very dangerous and if a shoelace comes loose, then you are more likely to be featured in a 'gym fail' video than see any results," says Olsen.

You run with weights in your hands

woman running on treadmill holding hand weights
Shutterstock / Kzenon

If you want to maximize your workout and burn more calories, put on some ankle weights—but don't bring your dumbbells on the treadmill.

"This is not a very smart move. It creates an imbalance in your running style and will make you more prone to injury. Also, if one of those weights comes loose, I've seen some serious treadmill damage done and a few broken toes," says Olsen.

For more ways to stay safe during your workout, check out these Major Mistakes You Should Never Make While Walking, Say Experts.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah
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