Treadmills are generally easier on the joints because you're walking on a flat surface. You don’t have the bumps and potholes that you might find on the sidewalks, grass, sand or other outdoor surfaces you normally walk on. With a few other steps, you can reduce the risk to your joints, reduce joint pain and make your workout more enjoyable.
Become familiar with your treadmill. Learn how to work all of the controls and how to stop in case of an emergency. Never get off the treadmill while it's still running. If you experience pain, pull the emergency stop cord to stop the machine.
Choose a good pair of walking shoes designed for your feet. Make sure the shoes conform to your feet. Don't try to squeeze your foot into a shoe that's too small in length or width. This can lead to blisters as well as alter your walking pattern. An unnatural walking motion places additional stress on the joints. Look for shoes that provide support for your type of arch. To determine your foot arch, place your foot in water and step on a piece of cardboard. If most of your foot shows, you have low arches. If you see just the heel and ball of your foot, you likely have higher arches and require more arch support.
Perform stretching exercises at least two to three times a week to keep your muscles flexible. Perform light stretching exercises for your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and hips before walking on the treadmill. A calf stretch is one example. Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold onto the back of a chair for support. Step your right leg behind you and place your left heel on the floor. Bend your left knee and lean toward the chair. You will feel the stretch in your left calf muscle. Repeat with your left leg.
Set the treadmill to a slow pace and begin walking. Keep this slower pace for the first five to 10 minutes of your workout. Keep the treadmill flat and don't walk at an incline. Incline walking increases the stress on the joints. Keep your hands off the railing and allow your arms to move freely. If you must hold on to keep up with the speed of the treadmill, it's set to fast. Reduce the speed. Stand up straight and look forward. Looking down and watching your feet places strain on the neck and back. Slowly increase the speed on the treadmill. When you have walked for your desired amount of time or distance, reduce the speed gradually for a cool-down.
- Don't be in a hurry to increase the speed of your treadmill walking. Take it slow and become comfortable with the treadmill.
- Position yourself in the center of the treadmill and keep a pace that allows you to remain in the center. If you find you are moving and approaching the front of the treadmill, you may need to increase your speed to avoid catching your foot at the front and risking injury. If you find yourself falling to the back section of the treadmill, reduce the speed so you don't accidentally fall off the treadmill.
- Consult a health care professional before starting any new exercise program.
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.