People often ask me if it’s better to use a treadmill or
just walk outside. The answer is a little more complex than just yes or no. In
this article, we’ll briefly go over a couple of the main advantages and disadvantages
of both, and then you’ll be able to make the right decision for you. We are
going to look at three main areas: body mechanics, quantification, and balance.
I have watched thousands of people walk on treadmills, and
one thing I've noticed is that the body moves slightly differently than it
does when walking off the treadmill. The main reason is because when on a
treadmill, most people hold on to the railings when they walk.
I used to think
that people just held on to feel safe, and certainly some do, but I have also
seen many athletes and younger people hold on when clearly they didn’t need to.
It’s just natural for people to hold on to handles when they’re placed right in
front of them.
Problem is, when you do this, you can’t swing your arms, and
your body was designed to operate with the arms swinging as you walk. The arms
act as a counterbalance.
When you take that counterbalance away, weird things
start to happen in the rest of the body. Typically, it results in the pelvis
rotating forward as you step.
Without getting too scientific, let’s just say that
this was not the way you were meant to walk. That makes normal walking the
winner in this category.
However, if you are using a treadmill, the obvious
solution to this problem is to not hold on to the handles unless you are so
wobbly that you need something to hold on to to feel safe. Then your body
mechanics will be just fine.
In Part 2 of Treadmill vs. Walking, we'll examine the ins and outs of quantifying your walking.
Part 3 considers how your balance is used when you walk.
Balancing Exercises main page
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