You may have noticed a curved treadmill in the cardio or group training area of your local club. Unlike other cardio machines, which are becoming increasingly technologically complex, these self-powered treadmills are paired to their basic and provide a refreshing alternative.
Let’s start with an explanation of what a curved treadmill is and how it works.
What is a curved treadmill? A curved treadmill is a non-motorized, concave device that allows users to walk and run while pushing the belt behind them with each foot strike. The method takes advantage of the vertical and horizontal curves of the walking or running stride to draw the belt down and back, eliminating the need for an electric motor—a plus for people who want to pace themselves naturally.
There are a few manual curved treadmills on the market today, including those from WOODWAY, TrueForm, Technogym, and Assault. They all offer the same thing: a smooth running experience that uses a curved leg stroke to improve the workout.
However, compared to a standard motorized treadmill, its curved running surface exerts a larger burden on the user.
This sort of self-powered treadmill allows you to run on it naturally. It propels you forward to generate enough momentum to turn the treadmill belt. Compared to the typical heel-strike employed by many runners, this running technique allows the user to use more muscle groups.
What Is Curved Treadmill Used For?
This is a versatile piece of cardiovascular equipment that may be used for a variety of purposes:
- Aerobic Exercise
- Speed Training
- Anaerobic Capacity (Including Interval Training, Fartlek Training, Timed Intervals, etc.)
- Max speed training, Sprint Drills (Acceleration technique, Bounding)
- Youth and/or Rehabilitative Locomotor Patterning
- Decreased Ground Reaction Force Training (including Quick Leg Cycle and Powerful Strides)
How Does a Curved Treadmill Work?
Gravity, friction, and the exploration of forces during running are the mechanical secrets of curved treadmills. Because of the curved design of the equipment, the foot and weight of the body physically pull the tread down and back during the downstroke rearward.
Because the contact point is so far ahead of the center of mass, it provides a different level of support than conventional non-motorized treadmills or running on the ground.
While the differences are not readily apparent to the human eye, they can reload the body with vertical ground reaction forces. Running on the curve may assist certain athletes, or fitness enthusiasts decrease the stress that vertical ground reaction forces place on their legs.
However, the unusual form of curved treadmills makes measuring forces on them challenging, as force plates are typically big and flat.
The ability to decrease horizontal friction of the early portion of foot impact to reduce artificial alterations to the firing pattern is the key to a successfully curved treadmill. The muscle firing pattern will improve if there is reduced friction early during foot impact, but there is a tradeoff because braking is a necessary evil for propulsion.
Technically, you utilize relatively little horizontal force contribution at peak speed since most speed is created by redirecting vertical force. Still, in running locomotion, the hip employs horizontal forces submaximally.
The argument over which force is more essential for speed has died down, as a new study shows that sprinting success requires a balance of all three forces—lateral, horizontal, and vertical. While running on a curved treadmill is comparable to running on the ground, the two are not interchangeable.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Curved Treadmill?
Curved treadmills are popular, and their use is expanding. A curved treadmill is not only flexible, but it also provides several health and performance advantages.
More Muscle Group Engaged
During your run, the curved treadmill stimulates more muscles. The glutes and hamstrings, in particular. This is because of the pushing method required to force the running belt ahead (similar to running outside). A curved treadmill also helps to reduce the vertical displacement of the body’s center of mass (COM). As a result, energy expenditure rose.
You Get More Natural Running and More Calories Burned
Running on the balls of your feet is encouraged by the curved design. This lessens the strain on the joints and, as a result, enhances running performance. It also pushes you to maintain appropriate posture; otherwise, you’ll feel unbalanced, and your running stride will suffer.
The most enticing aspect is that a curved treadmill has increased average calorie expenditure by 30-40%. This is in comparison to walking for 10 minutes on a level treadmill at 3 miles per hour.
You Will Get a More Difficult Workout
On a curved treadmill, the increased Rate of Perceived Exertion (Borg Scale 6-20) was found to be 1.44 units greater than on a normal flat treadmill. That is the distinction between light exercise and extremely light exercise. At the same pace on a curved treadmill, heart rate climbed by 22%, and relative VO2 increased by 41%.
Self-Powered and Simple to Use
It is simple and quick to get started on the curved treadmill because it is entirely driven by the user. To walk, jog, or run, simply get on and transfer your body weight forward – no buttons required. On these treadmills, we recommend that you begin by walking. This allows you to become used to the difference before increasing your speed.
Cons of Running on a Curved Treadmill
Because of the restrictions of curved running, the equipment can be used as a tempo substitute or an alternate running option for athletes who require a different modality than traditional running.
However, curved treadmills lack the vertical force oscillation required to replicate maximal speed development, as well as the acceleration postures required for short-running.
You’ll have to evaluate whether or not curved treadmills are a suitable fit for your needs.
They are an intriguing option for leisure runners, a creative interval option for performance running, and a possible advantage to sprinters in some conditions, in my opinion.
What Are the Benefits of Adding a Curved Treadmill to Your Gym?
There are several reasons why your (home/commercial) gym should include a curved treadmill in its cardiovascular area. The following are some of the advantages:
Manual Curved Treadmills Are Safer than Traditional Motorized Treadmills
The curved treadmill’s running deck has a lot more grip. This is significantly different from ordinary treadmill running belts, which are made of cotton nylon.
The belt system and the transportation system, on the other hand, have minimal friction and generate no heat. From a fire danger standpoint, this makes it safer to keep in your gym.
There Is no Need for Electricity
Because they are entirely powered by the user, they are more environmentally friendly. This reduces your operating expenses and saves you money on power.
Because there are no motorized elements on a curved treadmill, it has a longer service life than a regular treadmill. If proper treadmill maintenance is performed, servicing expenses are kept to a minimum during the machine’s lifespan.
What Is the Best Way to Train on a Curved Treadmill?
Curved treadmills can be used in the same way as flat treadmills are. From sprint intervals to slower steady-state running, everything goes. The curved treadmill, on the other hand, excels in three major forms of training:
Because there is no motor in the treadmill, sprint intervals on a curved treadmill are an excellent workout. This implies that the user may begin their sprint interval right away rather than wait for the treadmill engine to spin the belt at a specific speed before sprinting.
You may vary your pace on a curved treadmill to simulate a road or jogging track. Because they have no speed restriction, they are an excellent alternative for elite athletes whose pace is quicker than any commercial motorized treadmill’s peak speed.
When it comes to HIIT training, a curved treadmill is ideal. This is because it is simple to go on and off. Furthermore, when the user stops running, the pace of the running deck decreases down quickly. As users go from one exercise to the next, this enables quick and smooth transitions.
When a new form of exercise equipment hits the market, the marketing promises are often met with skepticism.
Compared to a standard motorized treadmill, however, it is apparent that the curved treadmill provides several benefits to both the user and the gym owner.
The manual treadmill is quite adaptable. It has a wide range of legal training options and is ecologically friendly. We are not claiming that it will completely replace the classic treadmill, but it may play an essential role in any training program and cardio zone alongside it.