Running, running, running.
Thousands of people hop on treadmills and do just that across the country every day.
While it's a commonplace occurrence, it's not without risk. In fact, it’s actually very common for treadmills to pose a danger to users. Many people go from running, running, running to injured, injured, injured.
A total of 24,400 treadmill injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms were reported in 2014 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (the last year the data was released).
The frequency of treadmill injuries rose between 1997 and 2014, according to a study from the National Library of Medicine. More often, women and older populations were likely to injure themselves on treadmills. The exact cause for injuries remains unclear; the study suggests proper use of the equipment is key in reversing the trend.
Follow These Tips for Improved Treadmill Safety:
- Provide instruction on learning your natural stride. Many people will focus on speedwork when using the treadmill, but this can negatively impact the runner’s stride leading to knee, hip and hamstring pain, according to this article on Runner’s World. This can be alleviated by understanding your normal stride when running off the treadmill and applying appropriate speed on the machine.
- Offer ideas for clients on alternative workouts using the treadmill and other equipment. While a treadmill is a convenient way to go the distance without actually needing distance, it can turn into a monotonous routine — which can strain the muscles that are relied on most heavily during this unvaried exercise. When off the treadmill, runners need to adjust and shift their bodies to avoid things like sidewalk cracks, run up runs, and so forth - which helps to shift the workload, the Runner’s World article explains. Fitness clients need to understand the importance of cross-training or at least varying the routine they choose on the treadmill.
- Arrange your space so that there is plenty of room around the machine. If a person slips, experiences a pain or something else that causes them to fall off the treadmill - it’s important that it doesn't lead to further injury because they slam into something else. Be sure there is adequate space behind every machine without anything in the way.
Other Areas to Consider to Avoid Injury in Your Gym
Overexertion, crashes, falls, misuse — These are all commonly sighted as a reason for someone to leave a gym worse off than when they arrived. Many stationary weight machines can lead to injury simply because of improper use, as detailed in this article on Prevention.com.
In a 2015 study from National Center for Biotechnology Information:
- 36.2% of all injuries were due to overexertion
- 52.6% of injuries were related to free weight activities
- 35.9% occurred in group classes
Make Free Weights and Weight Machines Safe for Your Clients
Consider these tips to guide clients away from overexertion and improve safe use of free weights and other weight machines to avoid injury at your fitness center.
- Provide more instruction on proper use of machinery: This may look like a free introductory session for new members, as well as increased signage with how to’s. Up your game with follow up training videos that members can review at home before using the equipment at their next visit.
- Encourage warmups and cool downs: This means having adequate space available for these types of activities, as well as providing suggested ways to do so. This helps your clients get their bodies ready for the exercise ahead of them, and avoid some of those all too common overexertion problems.
- Keep the gym neat and tidy: Keeping areas easily accessible and easy to move through Is important to avoiding falls and having adequate space to properly exercise. This includes in group fitness classes, so that participants have the room to move as they need.
Avoid Injury During Group Class Exercise
While group classes may look different with COVID-19 precautions in place, it is important to know these safety precautions for when things return to normal.
- Limit class sizes to allow adequate space for the required movement. This may mean that class sizes will vary depending on the type of activity. Consider the amount of space participants need to move across the floor, to stretch and other activities so they can avoid causing injury to each other.
- Conduct equipment checks to ensure everything works properly. Group classes inherently need to provide a bulk amount of equipment for each workout, and storage may make it difficult to pay attention when things are not up to snuff. Set aside time to review your inventory and ensure that everything is safe for your clients.
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