Ever since the first treadmill hit the market there has been some controversy on the effectiveness of running on a treadmill in comparison to running outdoors. Obviously, when you run on a treadmill the treadbelt is moving as you run and that may suggest you do not exert as much effort as running outdoors. Most studies would suggest that you have to compensate for treadmill running by raising the incline.
However, in a recent post by Casey Kerrigan, founder and president of Oesh Shoes, she debunks the negative aspects of treadmill running. Kerrigan is qualified to make assumptions, being a Harvard Medical School graduate with a masters in physical rehabilitation. She has been doing research into walking and running biomechanics for a number of years. In fact, based on her studies of the adverse affect of high-heeled shoes on woman she launched Oesh, which makes walking and running shoes for woman only.
Kerrigan revealed that the biomechanics of treadmill running are basically the same as outdoor running. According to Kerrigan, “People have a bias against treadmill running–that real runners don’t do it, or that it changes your leg movements. It’s all garbage. We found some minor changes, but they weren’t the ones people expected, and they don’t affect anyone’s running biomechanics.”
Her research also revealed the negative impact of holding on to the side rails. Some people believe that if you have an injury that if you hold on to the side rails and reduce ground reaction force, thus limited the stress and strain to your lower joints. Kerrigan’s response is “you can really screw yourself up.” You may think you are reducing weight to your lower joints, but you are screwing up your timing when you walk or run and that can have a negative impact.
However, I would disagree with her workout routine on a treadmill. She tends to leave the treadmill level and alternate the speed. I have that alternating the incline and speed, and switching between running and walking breaks up the monotony of running in place. It offers the benefits of Interval training, and allows me to focus on different lower muscles.
That said, the research done by Kerrigan would suggest there is no compromise when it comes to treadmill running.