As winter weather takes a toll, it's time to transition your daily walk or run indoors. But before you break in your sneakers on the treadmill, keep these safety rules in mind.
Approximately 24,000 people are hospitalized for gym-related injuries every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. While fatalities are rare, head-and-shoulder injuries, sprains, and burns are surprisingly common says Laura Miele-Pascoe, PhD., an expert in fitness and sport with expertise in injury prevention. “This is the time of year when people who maybe have never been to a gym before decide they want to join one," said Pascoe. "They take a tour ,they see the treadmill and assume the staff knows how to use it properly but many don’t."
Is your position at risk? Follow these Six basic rules to stay safe.
1: Forgetting to use the safety key
When a treadmill is yanked, it has a safety belt or key that shuts off the treadmill automatically. It's supposed to be worn around your waist at all times. Lisa Reed, a certified trainer in Washington, DC, warns that even the most seasoned runners can make an error and fly off the treadmill. The first piece of advice: Make sure you wear the safety key at all times.
2. Fixing or removing the equipment incorrectly
Staying safe while exercising on a treadmill means not assuming that just because you hit the 'start' button, everything will function as it should. Sometimes treadmills can malfunction, like starting with a jolt or picking up speed too quickly. To avoid being caught off guard and injured, stand with one foot on each side of the belt before pressing the start button. Hold onto the handrail for support and slowly begin walking once the machine starts moving. gradually increase your speed until you're moving at your desired pace.
When you've completed your workout, press the 'stop' button. Miele-Pascoe says "People usually want to get off the treadmill while it's still in motion, but your body is accustomed to the forward movement." Instead of disturbing your momentum, once it stops, hold onto the handrails on either side of you and turn around so you're facing away from the machine. Then carefully step down.
3: Use Phone and text messages
If your goal is to have a safe and productive workout, leave your cellphone in your locker. If you absolutely must bring it with you, at least turn off the alerts. And if you're waiting for an important call, make sure to hit pause or stop on the machine before answering. Never walk away from a treadmill that's still moving; someone else might not realize it's on and get injured.
4: Not being mindful of what you wear
Reed says to tuck your towel away or drape it over the console in such a way that it’s not likely to fall onto the belt. Similarly, if you’re going to shed layers, make sure discard them from the vicinity of the belt. Miele-Pascoe tells story of a high school student who had been running on treadmill with his shirt tucked into his shorts. “The shirt came loose from shorts and got caught in belt—so did he,” she says. “If hadn’t had presence of mind take off shorts, would have been severely burned.
5: Staying too close to the console
Keep a comfortable distance from the console. "Leave space between your body and the console that's half to the full length of your forearm," says Andia Winslow, certified trainer and running coach in New York City. "That way you won't accidentally pull the safety lanyard or hit your hands onthe machine."
6: Pushing too hard, too soon
“When getting back in shape, a lot of people believe they need to go all out,” Miele-Pascoe explains. “However, if you haven't been working out regularly, you need to allow your body to get acclimated to exercise again.” Instead of going full speed right away, start off slowly. If you feel dizzy or short of breath when doing the treadmill, stop immediately and rest for a while.
When we exercise, the risk of getting hurt is quite high; therefore, we must remind ourselves at all times to be cautious in order to achieve our goal: to exercise rather than to make us sick. Isn't it?