Running too close to the console shortens your stride by preventing your legs and arms from moving through their full range, says Michaela Holland, Precision Run coach at Equinox locations in New York City. Taking too-small steps when sprinting or going uphill compresses your lower-body joints, which can cause pain in the knees and low back. (FYI, a shorter stride can actually be beneficial when running outside or at a pace slower than a sprint.)
Plus, with the treadmill in the way, runners will often swing their arms across the body instead of forward and back, a change that slows them down and compromises core engagement. A similar effect happens in the legs, Holland explains: In an effort to stay on the belt, the feet will land one in front of the other rather than in line with the respective hip.
Together, these issues can ultimately lead to runner’s knee, stress fractures, and pulled muscles, Holland says.
The bottom line:
As you warm up, extend your arms with soft elbows and move forward or back until your fingertips graze the console, Holland says. This placement gives you enough room to complete full arm swings and strides.
Reset whenever you recover between sprints or increase the incline; the steeper the angle, the more people tend to drift forward.