How to Run Properly at the Gym – A Beginner’s Guide

Back view of sports people on treadmills. Two attractive young women and young muscular man are running in gym

How to Run Properly at the Gym – A Beginner’s Guide

Running is a great exercise that many people enjoy, but it is also physically demanding on your body and can lead to injury if you are not careful. This article provides some tips for running properly at the gym while avoiding injury.

How Does Running Benefit Your Body?

There are plenty of health benefits you can get from running. It strengthens your muscles and improves your cardio. It can even offer you better sleep quality, improved confidence, and reduced stress levels.

What Are the Impacts of Poor Running?

While running can provide plenty of benefits, runners must maintain a proper running form. Poor running can put unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles, leading to potential injuries.

To avoid the risk of injuries and increase your enjoyment in the gym, you must develop a good running technique right at the get-go, from warm-ups to actual running and cool-downs.

How Should I Warm Up Before a Treadmill?

Warm-ups help you lower the risk of injuries. It improves your blood circulation, enabling more oxygen to be delivered to your muscles. It also raises your body temperature, which enhances muscle performance and efficiency.

One way of warming up before your run is walking. Set an easy pace and walk for about 5 minutes. Avoid rushing. Instead, be deliberate about your warm-up, and treat it as a vital part of your run.

You can also try doing stretches for about 5 minutes. Do various ones targeting the quads, glutes, chest, hamstrings, core, and lower back. Examples are hip-opening stretches, arm circles, straight leg kicks, butt kicks, high knees, and leg crossovers.

What Is the Proper Way to Run on a Treadmill?

After a proper warm-up, the next step is to get on the treadmill. So how should a beginner run on a treadmill? Below, we are sharing some beginner tips on how you can develop a proper running technique:

1. Start with an easy pace

For beginners, it’s essential to start your run slowly. Don’t go from a zero to a hundred, as this can increase your chances of injury. Find a pace that you are comfortable with. Running at an easy pace means that you should be able to comfortably talk with someone even while you are on the treadmill. Gradually and with more training, you can pick up the pace and increase your treadmill’s settings, such as speed and incline.

2. Maintain a good posture

When it comes to running, posture plays a crucial role. With proper posture comes ease of movement and breathing and efficiency in running. Keep your core engaged, and aim for relaxed arms and hands. Ensure that your hands stick close to your body, and prevent bouncing to avoid putting stress on your joints and wasting energy. Check how you’re running from time to time, so you can fix your posture.

3. Swing your arms properly

Arm swinging influences the overall state of your balance. Improper swinging can result in your upper body working twice as hard just to keep you balanced. So allow your arms to swing naturally. Drive your elbows backwards, and keep them bent at a 90-degree angle.

4. Ensure a proper foot strike

Not everyone has the same foot strike patterns. There are three main types of foot strike based on how your foot lands while running: forefoot, midfoot, and heel. Generally, if how your foot lands do not affect your level of comfort while running, you won’t have to change it. But there are ways to ensure that your foot strike is optimised enough for your runs. This includes strengthening glutes, hips, and quads for improved muscle stability. Ensuring that your foot strikes are not aggressive is also key to putting less stress on your joints.

5. Look straight ahead

Keep your eyes forward, and try to maintain an erect spine. Don’t keep looking at the console, and focus your attention on maintaining your form. Looking ahead will help you avoid hunching over or slumping your shoulders, which will affect your overall running form.

6. Don’t stick too close to the front of the treadmill

For an optimal running experience, it is best to aim running in the middle of the treadmill belt. Don’t stick too close to the front where you’re only a few inches away from the console. This can constrict your arm movement and affect your natural gait. The solution for better arm drive is to stay in the middle of the belt while running. An optimal distance is about a foot away, but make sure to keep the controls within easy reach.

How Long Should You Run on a Treadmill?

The optimal running time for beginners is around half an hour. If by the end of several weeks, you feel as though you’ll benefit from increasing your running duration, then add 5, 10, or 15 minutes to your next session.

Tips for Avoiding Treadmill Injuries

1. Pick the right shoes to wear for your run

Select a pair of shoes that is lightweight and breathable. They should be comfortable enough to wear for the entire duration that you will be spending on the treadmill. Other factors to consider are durability and whether the shoes offer you adequate support. You can also consider getting a gait analysis, so you can identify what your running style and foot arch are. A gait analysis helps determine what improvements can be made to your gait and which type of shoe is best suited for you.

2. Get on and off the treadmill safely

When stepping onto the belt, you can use the handrails for support and more stability. After finishing your run, don’t step off the treadmill immediately. Allow yourself to cool down gradually first until you’re walking at a very slow speed, then gently step off to reduce the chances of injury.

3. Include variety in your runs

A little variety in your run is essential, as this not only helps ward off boredom but also lessens the risk of overuse injuries. So make sure there’s variance in your runs, and switch up your speed, duration, and incline settings once in a while.

Thinking of getting into marathon running or building up your cardiovascular endurance? At VH&F, we can help you get started on a training regimen that best fits your fitness goals and needs.

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