Getting the right treadmill for your body and budget!

What Kind of Treadmill Shock Absorption is Best?

There are several options for treadmill shock absorption across the major brands.  It’s important to find a machine with the right level of cushioning to match your running style.  Quality shock absorption will help protect your joints and save you from a great deal of pain over the long term.

Elastomer Shock Absorption

Most models out there are going to use elastomer shock absorption with rubber grommets positioned underneath the running surface.

These marshmallow looking grommets can vary in size along the length of the treadmill.  For example, some Horizon Treadmills have larger grommets in the front to absorb the foot fall and smaller grommets in the back to provide a solid and stable push-off point.

We recommend the following brands for best shock absorption systems.

Shop Now at NordicTrack

Shop Now at Sole Fitness

Shopw Now at Horizon Fitness

If you prefer a stiffer running surface using this technology you might prefer Sole Treadmills.  Our tests show that these machines are quiet comfortable.  They are perfect for road runners who are taking a break from the pavement.  Our favorite Sole machines are the Sole F80 and Sole F85.

Bowflex is relatively new to the treadmill industry, but they break into the game with their 5-Cell Comfort Tech Cushioning.  These machines are designed to be low impact and allow for a surface 25% softer in the front to absorb your footfall.  Honestly, this is similar to the variable cushioning that you’d find on the Horizon and  Sole machines.

Runner's Flex

Runner’s Flex

“Suspension System” Shock Absorption

NordicTrack and ProForm are built by the same parent company called Icon Fitness.  Their shock absorption acts like the suspension system on your car with external springs and an internal elastometer.  The deck cushions each step and then propels you into your next step with energy return.

Some of these machines can simulate both road and off-road running surfaces.  For example, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 has Runner’s Flex cushioning with six dampeners along the running surface.  You can turn this on or off depending if you want a softer or harder surface for training that day.

Shock Systems to Avoid

Cheaper treadmills are going to have decks that angle outwards.  This causes your foot to twist slightly with each footfall.  Avoid this type of deck as it can cause injury over time.  Many of the cheaper brands also skimp on overall cushioning.  The machines are so lightweight that the entire frame shakes while you run.  The impact of your footfalls isn’t properly absorbed.  We always recommend that you stay away from these cheap machines.  You’ll be doing your body more harm than good.

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24 thoughts on “What Kind of Treadmill Shock Absorption is Best?”

  1. robert j simmons

    So which would you recommend for a 50 year old man with flat feet and achy joints. I mainly walk but occasionally jog. My main consideration is less pain. Looking at nordic trac vs bowflex. I have a sole 80 that I wore out but it always seemed to hard for me. Thanks!


  2. farhan

    hello, i have 110 kg weight i need treadmill for my house which is the best for running and best in cousion please advise me thanks my budged is maximum £1800


  3. Kim

    Hi. Thank you for this valuable article. I need a treadmill with shocks as I have nerve blocks in my spine and injuries to my knees that have been repaired. I am over 50 years old. What kind should I get?


  4. Gee Rod

    I can’t decide between the Nordic Track 11 or the commercial 1750. I like the incline but I also want the reflex cushion on the commercial series. I haven’t heard anything about the cushioning on the i series. Your thoughts?


  5. Jacqueline

    Hi…great article! I am 52, and am trying to get back into shape. My knees and back sometimes hurt, so I’m looking for a treadmill which won’t impact my knees as much. I am debating between the NordicTrack X11i or 2450, but I am unsure of the differences between Reflex cushioning or Runners Flex Cushioning. I plan to start out walking and hopefully move on up to running w/inclines. Thank you!


    1. Site Admin

      Hi Jacqueline! Either are a great choice, but I would personally recommend the x11i. The 2450 has more of a firmer running surface, which isn’t the best for knee/back pain.


  6. Janet B

    Hi and thanks for the great article! I’m a 59 year old woman who lived the Orangetheory fitness treadmills because they didn’t hurt my knees. They are crazy expensive so I’m looking for something in the $1000-$2000 range that won’t hurt my knees, the way that cheaper gym treadmills do. Thank you!!!!


  7. Elizabeth Bowen

    Hi there. I absolutely love the orange theory treadmills. Any idea which ones they are or what would be most equivalent? Thank you!


  8. Braja

    What are the differences between Reflex Cushioning or Runners Flex Cushioning with NordicTrack Treadmills? I am trying to choose between X22i and 2950. I train for marathons and on extremely hot/cold days I have to run on treadmill for 5-6 hours with a few breaks in between.


    1. Site Admin

      Hi Braja there is little to no difference between Reflex Cushioning and Runners Flex Cushioning. I would probably recommend the 2950 because it has a slightly more powerful motor to keep up with your long running workouts. Hope this helps


  9. Ruth

    I am a 60 year old woman and recently tore my acl and meniscus. Dr has given approval to start running again. Need a treadmill with cushioning for my knees Was running quite a bit before my injury Which treadmill would you recommend. Price range would be between 2-3 thousand. Thank you


  10. Ram

    I am unable to decide between Precor 631, Life Fitness Activate Series, NordicTrack 2950 and Technogym treadmills. It will be used by multiple (6) members of the family, youngest 20 yo and oldest upto 75 yo (for walking). All have great cushioning and respective features. Kindly suggest and explain why.


    1. Site Admin

      Hi Ram. I would suggest the NordicTrack 2950 out of those options. This treadmill has a 4.25 HP motor, so it will hold up for all members of your family (walking, running, jogging). It also has a 22″ x 60″ treadbelt which is 2″ larger than what we typically see, so it will also give ample room for users of different heights. I hope this helps!


  11. Susan Thompson

    Hi, I am 61 years old (Female) with Plantar Fasciitis and knee pain. Is there an excellent treadmill in the price range of $600.00 to $1500.00. I do not care about all the other features as far as the computer on it goes. I run around 5 to 6 miles per hour and am working up to my 4 to 5 miles per day workout.


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