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15 Important Tips for Treadmill Safety

man running on a treadmill

Treadmills are common pieces of exercise equipment found in gyms, schools, and homes. Using a treadmill seems simple enough, but exercise equipment can pose many safety concerns when they are not used properly.

We’ve compiled a list of the most important tips for treadmill safety, to keep you protected and productive.

1. Don’t Get Distracted

You see videos all over the internet of the really-cool people that can dance and do flips on their treadmill. That doesn’t mean that it is safe, or that you should try it.

The treadmill is designed for one thing and should only be used for one thing: exercise. Try not to get distracted by other things and focus on what you’re really using it for.

2. Know When It’s On

Even though this sounds obvious, it’s easy to get distracted by kids, noises, and other things. It can be hard to hear if the treadmill is still running and many treadmills do not come with emergency shut-off features.

Ensuring that your treadmill is off when you’re not on it will significantly decrease your risk of injury. Try painting or drawing a few bright lines down your treadmill, to help you visually-confirm your treadmill is on or off.

3. Try Straddling It First

You probably didn’t think you were riding a horse, did you? Experts recommend straddling the deck (or sides of the treadmill) after you turn it on, before getting on the belt.

Sometimes a treadmill belt can start-off at a faster pace than you expect, due to malfunctions or misjudgment. Before you “jump” on, make sure the treadmill’s pace is turned all the way down.

4. Dress Properly

When you work in an office, you’re expected to wear certain uniforms or apparel. When you play sports, you must outfit yourself in the proper equipment and clothing for the job.

Exercising on the treadmill is no different, as you should always be wearing the proper clothing and footwear. Don’t wear loose clothing that can get caught in the treadmill and always wear sneakers with proper traction.

5. Know When to Stop

Overexertion is common among athletes and gym-goers. When you exercise you want to push yourself, and that’s normal. But it’s also essential to know your limits and never push yourself too hard.

If you are on the treadmill and ever feel light-headed, dizzy, or need to hold onto the handrails, stop immediately. Pushing yourself beyond your limits is a sure-fire way to risk safety and injury.

6. If Your Treadmill Has Safety Features, Use Them

Most models built today come with built-in safety features, but they will do you no good if you choose not to use them. The emergency-stop mechanism for example, should always be clipped to your shirt, shorts, or pants.

You shouldn’t hold it in your hand, since it’s too easy to simply let go of the clip. If you do not use the emergency-stop features properly, the treadmill will not shut off in the event of an emergency.

7. Find a Different Way to Play Your Music

This tip goes along with not getting distracted. Most people enjoy listening to music while they exercise, since it helps pump you up and stay motivated. But most people also listen to this music via phones.

Fiddling with your phone while you’re on a treadmill is a great way to get distracted, lose your balance, and get hurt. You should put your phone away and find a safer (and less-distracting) way to listen to your favorite playlist.

8. Start Small

You should never make the mistake of biting off more than you can chew. Never start at a running pace and when you want to increase the speed, do so in increments. Going too-fast, too-soon could make you lose your footing, cause a jerk in the belt, or make you overexert yourself.

In addition, walking and running on a treadmill is much different than doing it on other surfaces, so starting off in slow, small increments will ensure you’re ready for the heavy stuff.

9. Keep Kids Away

Children should never be around treadmills. Exercise equipment can be extremely dangerous for kids when you’re not paying attention or taking the proper precautions.

When the treadmill is not in-use, unplug it. Store the cord away and never-ever leave the treadmill on around children. Kids can easily suffer from burns and other extreme injuries from playing on treadmills.

10. End Your Exercise Slowly

Just as you should start-off slow, you should also get off the treadmill slowly. When you’re ready to end your exercise, slow down the speed (and decrease incline) gradually.

Stopping too abruptly could make you lose your balance or fall. When you’ve slowed down the treadmill all the way, hold on to the handrails.

Use the same straddling method for getting on the belt, but in-reverse. Put one foot at a time on either side of the belt and stop the treadmill completely.

11. Read All the Instructions

Most people just throw out the instructions, manuals, and guidelines that come with the products they buy. You should never do this with exercise equipment.

These papers contain important information on how to use your equipment properly, as well as how to use the important safety features it’s outfitted with. For many newer models, you can easily access this type of information online.

12. Give It Wide-Open Space

If you have a treadmill at home, you’ll want to make sure that it is always placed away from any clutter or furniture while it is in-use and stored away.

This ensures that the equipment itself is protected from injury and that you have the room you need to follow the proper safety-protocols. Additionally, if you do fall off a treadmill, you could suffer additional injury from surrounding objects.

13. Stay in the Middle

When you are walking or running, try your best to keep your feet in the middle of the belt. The farther your feet go to the edge of the belt, the more risk there will be for slipping, falling, and losing your balance. You may even find treadmill-models that have extra-wide belts if this is a concern for you.

14. Don’t Look Down

For many people, looking down on the treadmill is like looking down when you’re up-high. It can distract you or disorient your balance easily. If you become disoriented, you could stumble, trip, or fall. By looking straight-ahead while you’re on the treadmill, your center of gravity will always keep you balanced.

15. Maintain Your Treadmill

You’ve probably performed regular-maintenance on a variety of things like your car, home, and even body. Your treadmill could benefit from maintenance as well.

You can hire professionals to disassemble, clean, and recalibrate your treadmill to ensure it performs to its maximum capabilities, for years to come. This could decrease the risk of malfunction and increase your safety.

Treadmills offer you the ability to exercise the way you want, when you want. To use them properly and ensure you are safe, you must be diligent and educated. Follow the tips you’ve seen here today and you’ll be a treadmill-master in no time at all.

Paul Hickman