Common Treadmill Injuries and How to Avoid Them

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The treadmill provides you with great cardio benefits in the comfort of your home. Even people who cannot exercise outside or run on the road can take advantage of this exercise machine and enjoy a run.

While running on a treadmill is not the same as running on the road and is much safer, injuries still happen if you are not careful.

Most treadmill injuries reported to hospitals are caused by improper techniques of exercise, lack of carefulness, and not using proper gear. Based on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System report, there were 24,300 treadmill injuries reported on an average per year.

Let us see the most common injuries possible while using a treadmill and how to avoid them to use this exercise machine safely.

Foot Injuries

Overuse of foot muscles leads to a foot injury. If you do not use proper footwear while running on a treadmill, it can cause greater stress on your foot muscles and lead to various foot injuries. They can be caused both due to walking or running on a treadmill.

Improper running is also another main reason for the cause of pain in your foot. You might face the following common foot injuries while using a treadmill:

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is more common in runners and is one of the major causes of foot pain. It is caused due to inflammation of the thick band of tissue known as the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes.

This condition causes stabbing pain in the morning when you take your first steps. Another telltale symptom of plantar fasciitis is that the pain is not felt during the exercise but is worse after exercise.

The pain fades as you get up and move around but might present itself after long periods of standing or standing after sitting for a long time.

Though there are various reasons for this condition, it is mainly due to inadequate support when using improper footwear.

Intermetatarsal Neuroma

Intermetatarsal neuroma, also commonly known as Morton’s neuroma, is a condition caused by the thickening of the tissue between the 3rd and 4th toes. It is commonly found in people who wear high heel shoes or tapered toe box which force the toes into the toe box.

People wearing these shoe models have a greater chance of experiencing this condition. Apart from this possibility, it is also found in individuals who have certain foot deformities such as flat feet, hammertoe, bunions, or more flexible feet.

Chances of developing a neuroma increase for people who injured their foot or other forms of damage.

Activities involving repetitive irritation of the ball of the foot are also another potential cause of neuroma. While this condition is treatable, its seriousness can range anywhere between surgery and switching your shoes.

Achilles Tendonitis

The end that links your calf to the heel becomes inflamed in Achilles tendonitis. The most prominent cause of this disease is inclination.

Your calf muscles become squeezed when running on a slope.

It can worsen if the user does not warm up before running on the treadmill and start with stiff muscles as your legs will be subjected to more strain. Another important reason would be not wearing proper footwear or supportive shoes.

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Can You Avoid Foot Injuries On A Treadmill?

As you can easily infer from the above information, foot injuries are mainly caused by the following reasons.

  • Starting work out without proper warm-up
  • Overstraining yourself by too much running
  • Wrong inclination settings put more strain on your muscles
  • Wearing improper shoes with not enough support or of the proper size
  • Maintaining improper form when running

Starting to run without getting your muscles ready with an adequate warm-up is one of the most common reasons for exercise injuries and strains.

By underestimating the importance of this step, thinking that they are saving time, many individuals are causing more harm.

Choose to increase the intensity or incline of your exercise routine gradually but not suddenly, thinking that you are much better and capable of handling more.

These sudden changes are not easily adaptable by your body and cause it to tear or strain muscles.

Appropriate running shoes which are of the right size and have enough padding to cushion your feet, meaning capable of handling high impact, should be worn.

Also, make sure that you choose them based on your foot type by checking if you belong to flat foot, high arch, low arch, or neutral arch.

If you are of neutral arch type, then go for stability shoes, flat foot, and low arch people are good to go with motion control shoes, and high arch people should look for cushioning shoes.

Choosing like this will ensure that your ankles and feet are well protected and give you a comfortable running feel.

Shoes do wear off as you use them, and consider replacing them when you think they are half worn out because the support is already reduced by then. By replacing your shoes frequently, you can prevent most forms of foot injuries.

Knee Injuries

Coming to knee pain is classified into two types: the natural pain that occurs due to aging and avoidable pain that occurs because of mistakes you make while running.

Since the treadmill offers a soft surface to run on, your knees do not get strained as much as when you run outside.

However, as your body ages, your bones deteriorate, and you will experience pain in the knees due to natural or medical reasons.

Treadmill running absorbs most of the impact and keeps your knee pain to a minimum.

An abnormal stride pattern or a poor posture has a greater effect on your knees when you run on an incline.

Can You Avoid Knee Injuries On A Treadmill?

Maintaining proper form is the easiest approach to avoid knee injuries when on the treadmill.

The second most important thing to remember is not to overwork yourself and listen to your body when it is in pain and stop working immediately until you resolve the issue.

Another common reason you can experience pain is the hyperextension of knees or rolling defeat in too much. Make sure you keep your back straight and head up.

Finally, get your hands on the best cushioning technology for the treadmill belt and your running shoes.

Hip Injuries

Regular treadmill runners notice pain in the hips because running on an incline has a greater impact on your hips which might further develop into discomfort or pain.

You might be relieved to know that it is common in both treadmills running and outside running.

A hip injury is more likely if you extend your legs too much or use an unnatural stride pattern.

Hip pain, when it occurs due to this reason, will increase gradually but not suddenly. If you continue to run on the incline, this hip pain may lead to severe long-term injury.


Bursitis is caused by the inflammation of the bursae and is a very painful condition. Bursae are small fluid-filled sacks that help cushion the bones, muscles, and tendons around your joints.

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Individuals who run regularly on a treadmill for longer periods are at high risk of developing bursitis.

There are two types of bursitis – acute and chronic. When flares occur over hours or days, it’s called acute bursitis, and when it lasts for a few days to several weeks, it is chronic bursitis.

Acute personality can turn into chronic when it occurs frequently or when you get your hip injured.

Chronic bursitis can come back and go away based on your physical activity. It is a treatable condition, while you need to go easy on yourself when under treatment by limiting your activities. The treatment can either be physical or medication as suggested by your doctor.

Though it is rarely necessary, you can also avail a surgery option, if need be, based on your doctor’s prescription.

Hip Labral Tear

The soft tissue, the labrum that covers the socket of the hip, the acetabulum, is subjected to labral tear due to the repetitive motions you perform while on a treadmill.

It is majorly seen in individuals who work out for long periods and constantly run on a treadmill.

Stiffness, pain in the hip are the main symptoms of this tear. Even severe cases are treatable with surgery, but most of them resolve through nonsurgical treatment. It is best to limit your activities while under treatment.

Hip Flexor Strains

When you overuse them, you strain your hip flexor muscles and tendons, leading to soreness, inflammation, and pain.

These muscle group strains are classified into three grades. Most users are subjected to grade two classification injuries.

At this grade, numerous fibers are damaged, and hip flexor function could be compromised. But you need not worry as hip flexors are easy to treat.

You can restore your function by resting and by using some over-the-counter pain relievers.

If severe, you need to contact your doctor, and hip flexor strains do not require surgery to the most extent and are rarely suggested.

Can You Avoid Hip Injuries On A Treadmill?

If you find it uncomfortable while running, it indicates something wrong with your position, and if you don’t correct it in time, it may lead to tears and pain over time. Similarly, overworking yourself is also the major cause.

You should give enough time for your body to recover after few days of workout. Ensure that your form is perfect and keep checking it even in between the workouts to keep it throughout the workout.

The ideal incline which can optimize your results is the maximum your body can handle but not the maximum your machine offers you.


70% of treadmill injuries occur due to falling from a treadmill. Unlike outdoor running, a treadmill keeps running even if you stop.

So, when you miss a step, exceed the speed restrictions, or try to board the machine when in motion, it can lead to a fall.

These falls may lead to broken bones, a lot of pain, or even death. Though you can see many funny videos of this scenario, the death of Dave Goldberg, a Silicon Valley executive, did gain attention which led to a heavy focus on this risk.

Serious injury can occur when you hit your head, causing trauma to it even if you lose your focus for a few seconds.

It is also important to keep adequate clearance space behind the treadmill and ensure that no wall or furniture is present in that place.

You can avoid hitting them when you fall, which is another main reason most people get injured badly.

According to ASTM international, it is ideal for keeping at least six of clearance at the back of a treadmill. While it is designated for commercial gyms, it is also a good norm for homes.

Tips To Avoid Falling From A Treadmill

  • If you miss a step and are not able to manage it, use the emergency stop clip
  • Do not try to perform any fancy dances on the treadmill
  • Set your treadmill speed to a comfortable pace
  • Do not attempt to get on when the treadmill is already running
  • Please read all the safety precautions you need to take and follow them cautiously
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Heart Problems

Pushing yourself past your capability has higher chances of developing heart problems as it puts extreme strain on your heart.

If you are experiencing chest pain after a cardio routine, you need to step back and analyze your activity to check if you are overstraining your heart.

As the treadmill increases the risk of heart attack, users above 50 should use it with caution as they might already have any diagnosed or undiagnosed heart issues.

Final Thoughts

Suppose I am to summarize the causes of injuries when running on a treadmill. In that case, most users fail to implement the basic safety measures they need to follow when running on a treadmill. Though it seems obvious, most users do not adhere to this measure.

If you are a beginner, ensure that you’re wearing proper attire, take it slow, and implement the correct form. If you can train under the supervision of a physical therapist, then it is much safer.

Common Treadmill Injuries & How To Avoid Them (FAQs)

Are Treadmill Injuries Common?

Among the hugely popular exercises, the treadmill has a considerable injury rate, and many people end up at the hospital every year with skinned knees or sprained ankles. However, fatal injuries are rare though not impossible.

Can I Use The Treadmill Even If I Have Lower Back Pain?

Walking on a treadmill can relieve your back pain when done properly at low intensity. It also strengthens your back to prevent new injuries.

So, it is beneficial to walk on a treadmill even if you have lower back pain.

Is Treadmill Exercise Safe For Senior Citizens?

Senior citizens can comfortably work out on a treadmill, but they should understand that they need to limit their activity based on their endurance levels.

It is good to work out under the supervision of trained personnel and design a specialized regimen that suits them.

Treadmill walking can benefit the elderly in the below ways:

  • It improves the blood oxygen saturation and lung capacity
  • Boost the cardiac health
  • Helps in injury recovery our post-surgery rehabilitation
  • Offers gait training for recovery from stroke for those having Parkinson’s disease
  • Develops leg muscles
  • It helps in losing weight
  • Strengthens the abdominal muscles

What Are The Injury Types Commonly Found In Elders Using Treadmills?

Senior people are more fragile and susceptible to sprains and strain, so much so as even a simple fall can result in breaking their bones.

It is nothing different even with treadmills, and needless to say, they are more vulnerable than younger people and have a greater probability of ending up in hospital.

Injuries are mostly found from the hip to the toe region that is the lower limb area. Individuals aged about 65 are prone to trunk injuries and head injuries.

Also, strain and sprain from fall is most prevalent injury among seniors. Their injuries to lower body parts such as knees, hips, and ankles have a long-term impact.

Tips To Prevent Dehydration And Painful Muscle Cramps

Apart from injuries, a major issue encountered by runners is dehydration. Both indoor and outdoor running require plenty of hydration when you run or walk.

Doing so will assist your body in transition from workout mode to normal mode by cooling your body properly.

It is easier to avoid dehydration when you’re running on a treadmill as they usually have bottle holders where you can conveniently place your liquids to rehydrate yourself frequently. Also, proper protein intake is an important point to keep in mind.

When you run, your muscle gets wasted if you do not give enough protein resulting in painful cramps during or after running.

Your body needs protein to repair the muscular damage and to build it back into a healthy muscle.