How to Avoid Hip Problems While Using a Treadmill


A treadmill can be a lifesaver -- especially when the weather turns ugly, it’s too dark or the babysitter cancels at the last minute. Though it’s not quite the same as running outdoors, a treadmill gives you the opportunity to run without the concern of uneven terrain, which can lead to slips, trips or falls. Even so, treadmill workouts can lead to hip problems if proper form and technique are not used.

  • Wear training shoes that fit properly and provide good cushioning. Shoes that absorb the shock created with each step help reduce the impact to your hips and knees. But avoid too much cushioning. Brian Reddy, personal fitness trainer, recommends training shoes that do not have a built-up heel because this limits how much your Achilles tendon can stretch. This tendon is instrumental in propelling you forward as you walk or run. Reddy claims that less stretch places more work and stress on your hip joints, which can lead to soreness and injury.

  • Perform a 10-minute light, aerobic warm-up before you hop on the treadmill. Warm-up activities help increase your circulation, loosen up your joints and muscles and prepare your body for an injury-free workout. Activities to consider might include a light jog, jumping jacks or riding a stationary bicycle.

  • Follow your warm-up with dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches, sometimes referred to as active stretches, involve movement -- your muscles are stretched while moving your joints. For treadmill workouts, perform dynamic stretches that focus on your lower body such as high-knee marching, walking lunges, hip circles or crossover grapevine steps.

  • Step on the rails of the treadmill, turn it on and set it to a speed that allows you to have a minimum stride cadence of 90, which is the number of times the same foot contacts the treadmill's belt in one minute. If your stride cadence is less than 90, you are overstriding, according to Dr. D. Casey Kerrigan, a former sports medicine professor and founder of OESH Shoes. This puts more stress on your hip joints, bones and tendons, according to Kerrigan.

  • Practice good form and technique. Avoid leaning forward, keep a slight bend in your knees and land on the balls of your feet. Olympic running coach and author Nicholas Romanov recommends setting the treadmill to a 1- to 3-degree incline to simulate the forward lean of your body when you run on the ground. Instead of extending your foot forward of your body, Romanov recommends you land with your foot under your hips and to pull it up under your hips as you stride. Avoid letting the belt to pull your foot back behind your body because this can over-extend your hips, which can lead to injury and pain.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are new to exercise, consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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  • Photo Credit Sergey Nivens/iStock/Getty Images
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