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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34 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!

    Reply

  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

    Reply

  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?

    Reply

  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?

    Reply

  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!

    Reply

    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.

      Reply

  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!!!!

    Reply

  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!

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

    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

      Reply

  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

    Reply

  10. Ram

    Hello,
    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.

    Reply

    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!

      Reply

  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.

    Reply

  12. Khushbu Thakkar

    Hello ,

    I am looking for treadmill which has low impact on back/spine and knees. I am considering NC 1750,sole 80 and proform smart 5000. Please advise which is the best. I am open to other suggestions as well. I have read lots of customer support complaints for NC.

    Reply

    1. Site Admin

      Hi Khushbu. I would recommend the Sole F80 out of those 3 options. Unfortunately we do hear customer support complaints often about NordicTrack as well. Sole is known for their great customer service. Hope this helps

      Reply

  13. Robin

    I have ran for years. Starting to experience foot injuries and try to be careful with my knees. I am a 5’2” woman, weigh 115 lb. Need to stay under 2k. Which tread would you recommend? Thank you!

    Reply

  14. roger

    Hello, I’m 51, only do walking and a rare jog. I get occasional front of the ankle pain, so I can’t do inlcine too much.
    Is the horizon 7.0 AT better or the Cole F63 ?
    Is there another treadmill you would recommend ?
    thanks.

    Reply

    1. Site Admin

      Hi Roger. Either are great options. When we are asked for a “go-to” treadmill recommendation we typically suggest the Sole F63. It is a quality machine with a warranty to match. Hope this helps.

      Reply

  15. Lillie Yee

    Hi! I love to run and had an old commercial Precor, which I gave away when I moved. I occasionally have knee pain but not from running. I do get shin splints from running too hard. I usually run 3-4 miles. I tried the Sole F80 once and found it really stiff. A friend recommended the NC X22i. I saw that you recommend NC1750 for knee pain. What do you suggest and open to suggestions? Thanks!

    Reply

    1. Site Admin

      Hi Lillie. Either the Nordic Track x22i or Nordic Track 1750 are both great options. Both machines have built in cushioning to protect your joints. We have been told the NT 1750 mimics running on road surface, so if you’re looking for something a little bouncier than that I might suggest the x22i. But again, you really can’t go wrong with either here. I hope this helps!

      Reply

  16. Lillie

    Thanks for responding. I read up on the NC 2450 while waiting for your response. I like running on a treadmill and not so much on a road surface. Is the NC 2450 also a good option to consider. Appreciate your help.

    Reply

    1. Site Admin

      Hi Lillie, yes! The NT 2450 is a great option as well if you prefer the treadmill feel over road surface. However, due to the pandemic there is a pretty significant shipping delay on the 2450. It doesn’t ship out until 11/20/20. In the interim, we have been suggesting the Horizon 7.8 AT to folks if you are needing a treadmill that’s available sooner.

      Reply

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