It’s raining somewhere between car-wash and firehose speed when you decide hitting “The Dreadmill’’ in the basement might be another fine example of discretion being the better part of valor.
**You:** “Honey, I’m gonna go downstairs and run for an hour.’’
**Significant Other:** “Well, be careful!’’
Famous last words. You jump on, set your speed, turn on the ballgame. This, you’re thinking, could pass for a decent workout.
Then the cellphone goes off. You reach for that magnificent little communication device, forget your stride cadence for a split second and the next thing you know, you’re lying on the cellar floor with blood dripping off your knee.
So, this little imaginary scene was not meant to scare people away from generally safe fitness machines, otherwise known as “The Treadmill.’’
It’s just to point out that running on such a device requires full concentration.
And it’s why a lot of people nodded their heads knowingly last week when Peleton decided to recall all its Peleton+ treadmills because of possible defects.
Actually, it’s bad enough that a lot of safe treadmills cause accidents but it’s even worse when this particular machine happens to be a high-priced booby trap.
There were an estimated 22,500 treadmill-related injuries treated at U.S. emergency departments in 2019 — including about 2,000 in children under 8 years old, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The agency received reports of 17 deaths associated with treadmills from 2018 to 2020.
Many of these incidents could have been avoided with proper precaution, be it on the treadmill in your home or the one at your local gym.
A few thoughts on possible safety measures:
>When using a treadmill for the first time, get a feel for the process by setting the belt at a low, walking speed. Get used to the idea that you’re on a refined piece of equipment and you’re stride length and cadence can’t change.
>Limit distractions. If you must watch a TV show/movie/sports event, wait until a few minutes of running have passed so that you’re in rhythm.
>Slow down for water breaks.
>Don’t rely on handrails, says the Treadmill Review website. It’s fine for walkers to use the handrails while they are getting used to a machine’s movement, but using the handrails for an extended period of time can put extra strain shoulders and elbows. It is also a sign that the speed or incline is set too high and should be adjusted to a more comfortable level. Using handrails can also throw off an exerciser’s balance and make them more prone to leg and foot injuries. Holding onto the rails also decreases the number of calories burned because the core muscles are not engaged as they should be. Freely moving your arms is a more natural movement that also burns calories.
>Keep children away. Did you know former championship heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson’s daughter died from a treadmill accident? According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 8,700 documented injuries to children every year caused by exercise equipment. If there are children present in the house, make sure the treadmill is unplugged except, of course, when using it.
>Think of the treadmill as a last resort. Most veteran runners will tell you they much prefer running outdoors in a natural setting. Unless it’s snowing to beat the band or raining like Superstorm Sandy, put on the extra layer and toughen up.
Of course, if “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’’ is on TV, that should get you through about 20 miles of running without ever leaving your home gym.
Saturday, May 22
Run the Vineyards 5K/10K, 9 a.m., Stockton, N.J. Contact www.runsignup.com
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