Using the treadmill? Injury coming!

I have built 2 gyms, am building one now and was involved in building several others. And I have never bought a single treadmill. A newspaper in Singapore headlined a story about my business as “the gym without a treadmill”. I really do not like them and have always had a strong dislike. Why?

In the old days I just couldn’t understand why someone would drive a car to a gym to run on one and then drive the car home again. I thought being outside running the streets was really fun, beating times and setting personal bests, sprinting and walking alternative power poles, sprinting hills – I loved it.

There was a reason for this running and the variations. I played at a decent level of football back in New Zealand and represented my area on many occasions. The work I did on the roads was prescribed by a variety of coaches and one in particular, Jim Henderson who’s name and face I will never forget had a profound effect on my sports fitness in general. I think he was years ahead of his time when it came to fitness. He had us doing repeat sprints at a protocol of 1 to 1 before anyone was talking about work:rest cardio. And it definitely helped because we won the New Zealand national championship with Jim coaching when I was 16 years old.

So years later seeing fitness and gyms becoming more mainstream it literally blew me away to see what fitness meant to some people and the driving to a treadmill was a big one. It’s not limited to just the treadmill of course. There’s SO MUCH hahaha! Regular readers will know what I mean.

From a physiological standpoint there’s a big issue with regular treadmill use.

There are 7 human basic movement patterns of which a curiously named movement called “gait” is one. Gait means walking, jogging, running and sprinting and from a biomechanical standpoint essentially means hip internal rotation that creates locomotion being forward movement. The key words here are hip internal rotation.

Anyone experienced piriformis syndrome? Psoas syndrome or inactivity or sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction? I am very sure a lot of the issues we face in the hip/glute complex including issues in the lumbar, hamstrings and quads are tied up with treadmill use. Why?

Well locomotion when running requires hip internal rotation. When on a treadmill there’s no locomotion, you don’t move, the tread on the mill moves and as a result peripheral muscles must do their job. These muscles such as quads, hamstrings and calves work as normal but their relationship with the hips and glutes is different because there’s no hip rotation. As a result the muscles in these locations do not work properly, if at all. There’s a serious problem at the interface of these muscle groups and the joints associated with them.

Frequent long term misuse of the human musculoskeletal system results in chronic injury. In this instance it is clearly overuse of treadmills. Ask your physio if you’re experiencing piriformis or psoas syndromes or an inactive SI joint why you are experiencing it and they usually have to guess. There’s never really a standout reason.

I am beginning to think it’s very obvious! Get off the treadmill and get outside.

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