If you suffer from chronic joint pain, or if you’ve ever suffered an injury to your knees or ankles, exercise may be very painful for you. This is extremely frustrating if you’re trying to get in shape as it makes your options quite limited, but if you’re using the right equipment and you listen to what your body is trying to say you can still work out successfully. In fact, low-impact exercise may actually help improve your existing condition by strengthening the problem area. You may never be pain-free, but you can certainly make your pain more manageable.
The right type of treadmill can be a great form of low-impact exercise. Don’t expect to skimp on the price though; if you want a top-quality treadmill that’s built to cushion the blow on those problem areas, you’re probably going to have to pay a little more for it. If you’re thinking that a treadmill has to be better for you than running around the track, you’re not wrong. In general this is true, but if you purchase a poor quality treadmill with a belt that’s not designed to cushion the impact on your joints, you may do more harm than good.
The Actual Tread Itself
To clarify how important the right tread is in reducing chronic knee, ankle, or back pain, it might help to consider how important the right shoe is when we’re running on the street. The best shoe companies put a lot of research and development into designing the perfect tread – one that reduces the impact on your body. No matter what shoe you buy, running will always have some sort of adverse effect on your body. But the best shoes will reduce this impact by designing treads that act as a kind of shock absorber, allowing you to train longer and harder. The goal is to increase the health of your heart and strengthen your muscles. The body has amazing recuperative properties, so if you minimize the wear and tear as you run, it will repair itself in time and the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks.
What does this have to do with the tread on a treadmill? Well, it’s the same principle. The best quality treadmills will include cushioning technology that reduces the impact on your body. If you’ve ever seen a treadmill in the gym that has little raised ridges on the treadmill belt, you may realize that these actually help to reduce the impact by spreading out the effect over a wider area. If you’ve got a friend with an old treadmill that has a belt with a flat shiny surface I’d stay far away from that one. An old belt like that will do very little to help cushion the impact on your body.
Thickness Does Matter
Returning to that old treadmill in your friend’s basement, the shiny black surface of the belt is probably not the only problem with it. Chances are an old treadmill like that has been through a lot of pounding over the years and the belt has probably worn thin. A thin treadmill belt is also something you would want to be concerned about when purchasing a new one. Thin belts tend to have a lot of give in them and, while that may sound like a good thing, it isn’t; it actually creates an uneven surface that can do even further harm to your already-injured body parts.
Absorbing the Shock
The best treadmill belts have a lot of science behind them. The big manufacturers do a lot of research into how to create the perfect belt for reducing the impact on the body while simultaneously providing a nice, comfortable running surface. Many belts actually have built-in shock absorption technology. In general, softer belts are usually better for lowering impact forces than the harder belts.
The types of materials that comprise the deck, the part the belt rides on, also help to control the degree of shock that’s absorbed by the machine. Some machines even have shocks and springs built into them to help soften the blow. If part of the reason you’re looking to purchase a treadmill is because you want to find a low-impact form of exercise, you should definitely pay very close attention to what the manufacturer has to say about shock absorption.
Low Impact Design
Impact Doesn’t Have To Mean Pain
When I initially set out to find a treadmill I never dreamed that I’d be considering things like how thick the belt was and what kind of shock absorption it had. But now that I have looked into it, I’m glad I did my homework. After all, we only have one body, so it makes sense to take care of it. Buying a treadmill is a great way to get in shape, but not if it’s going to ruin your joints in the process.