Is Running on the Treadmill the Same as Running Outside?
Updated: Apr 13, 2019
Many distance runners look down on treadmills as "fake" exercise. As someone who runs indoors 90% of the time, I can tell you that is definitely not the case.
While I enjoy running outside, my issues is my flat feet that contribute to very painful shin splints I tend to get when running on pavement. On the treadmill I can run barefoot, which takes the stress off my shins. It is true that running on a treadmill is easier than running outside, but setting the incline to 1% compensates for this. The slight incline actually makes it considerably more comfortable to run, at least for me.
Running outside definitely has its advantages: varied view, fresh air, actually feeling like you're going somewhere. But the treadmill is a viable replacement if the weather is bad, your joints can't take the pounding of the pavement, or if there are no trails near your house. One thing I find is that the treadmill seems to under-use the glute muscle. This makes sense if you think about it: the job of the glutes is pull the leg back from in front of you to behind you. The treadmill does this for you. Therefore the glutes don't get to do much. The downside of this is that muscular imbalances can develop, where the quadriceps (front thighs) and hamstrings overpower the glutes. The result can be hamstring strains, back pain, or SI joint issues. Therefore performing a few sets of glute exercises before and after running, along with your general warm-up, is a great idea! Hip bridges, glute extensions, and 1-leg deadlifts are all good exercises to fire up the glutes before hitting the trails or the treadmill.
If you're looking to get into running but don't know where to start, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can set you on the right path!