If you are learning forefoot running, the treadmill may not be the wisest place to start off. This is because the treadmill can alter your balance, and therefore if you have weak hips or over-pronate, the treadmill may worsen these biomechanical ailments.
Learning Forefoot Running on a Treadmill May Cause Injury
Treadmill running has been shown to impair balance and is not the place for forefoot running learners. Some runners have muscle strength imbalances and show less stability while running on a treadmill.
Therefore, the best way to learn forefoot running safely is to do so overground and not on a treadmill.
- One study even cautioned runners with weak leg muscles to avoid treadmill running and should run outdoors to improve muscle strength.
The Main Source of Strength Imbalance in Forefoot Runners
Muscle strength imbalances are partly due to weak adductors and hip flexors.
Additionally, many runners have pronation issues and ankle instabilities which also alter balance when running. However, adopting a forefoot strike over a heel strike may reduce overpronation.
- treadmill running may exacerbate gait imbalances, as it is known to impose balance alterations
- runners may have a less controlled gait on a treadmill thereby increasing risk of injury
- the best practices for improving muscle strength imbalances and prevent lower leg injury is to run outside
The Take Home Message
Muscle strength imbalances causes a forefoot running learner to be less sturdy on a treadmill.
If you’re not the most balanced, gait-sturdy runner on the road, the treadmill will be your worst enemy. Not to mention, it is still debatable if treadmill running truly approximates overground running.
Learning forefoot running is synonymous with natural running and doesn’t include running on a treadmill.
More on the Proper Way to Run, with a Forefoot Strike, not a Heel Strike:
- Heel Strike Running vs Forefoot Strike Running
- Forefoot Running Much Safer than Heel Strike Running
- Obese People Run with Less Impact with Forefoot Running
- Forefoot Running Boosts Running Economy
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
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