Can a Treadmill Cause Back Pain?

Back Pain during Exercise

Exercise enthusiasts know how great treadmills are for getting in a quick and efficient workout from the comfort of your home or gym. As far as exercise machines go, treadmills are fairly easy on your body. But one of the most popular questions that arise around treadmills concerns muscle strain: Can a treadmill cause back pain?

Treadmills can cause back pain if preventative measures are not taken beforehand. There are many different reasons why back pain may arise after a treadmill workout, but one of the most common is lack of proper posture while walking or running.

This article will cover some of the reasons why treadmills can cause pain in your back, as well as what preventative measures to take to avoid post-workout pain in the first place! Read on to learn everything you need to know about a safe and comfortable cardio workout.

Why Do Treadmills Cause Back Pain?

Warming Up On Treadmill

In general, running is a fairly high-impact workout, so it’s no surprise that although treadmills are easy to use, they can result in some uncomfortable feelings afterward. In fact, back pain after working out on a treadmill is very common and often felt in the lower back, upper back, or shoulders.

According to Livestrong, the most common culprit behind post-treadmill back pain is poor posture during your workout. It is important to have good posture while running on a treadmill. This includes keeping yourself strong and tall while ensuring that no part of your body is tense.

Additionally, holding onto the handles of your treadmill can cause you to slouch more than usual during your workout, resulting in shoulder pain if you aren’t careful. The most important thing to remember is to stand up nice and straight, regardless of how fast or slow you’re moving.

Other Causes of Back Pain When on a Treadmill

Unfortunately, bad posture isn’t the only culprit in the back pain equation. There can be other factors affecting the way your muscles feel, as well. If you’ve noticed your back aching after a running workout but did your best to keep good posture, the pain might be caused by something else.

Some other common causes of back pain during a treadmill workout include the following:

Too Much Impact

Depending on the make and model of your treadmill, the part you’re running on may not be cushioned enough to stop pain from impact. When you run, the impact your feet have on the surface can cause pain in the knees, legs, and back.

Counteract this by running at a slower pace, or researching the best treadmill options to avoid straining your muscles. On this blog, you’ll find various articles covering the best treadmills to choose.

Improper Running Shoes

Foot Strike on Treadmill

Wearing the wrong shoes can go hand-in-hand with too much impact and lend to achy joints and muscles after your workout. Ensure that your running shoes fit comfortably and have enough support for your feet. Otherwise, you may find yourself reaching for the ice after each workout!

Skipped the Warmup

Every exercise enthusiast knows how important stretching and warming up is before jumping into your workout, especially when doing a high-intensity or high-impact routine such as running on a treadmill. If you don’t ease your body into moving, you can very easily injure yourself. If you aren’t careful, these injuries can be severe.

Before starting your workout, ensure that your shoes fit correctly and spend a reasonable amount of time stretching and warming up. That way, the chances of having back pain after your workout are dramatically decreased.

How to Avoid Back Pain When on a Treadmill

Woman Running on Treadmill

Now that we’ve identified some possible causes of post-workout back pain, we can look at ways to prevent getting there. Luckily, preventing an exercise injury is actually very easy and just requires being conscious about your body and the equipment you’re using.

Below are a handful of preventative measures you should take before beginning your workout:

Purchase Good Equipment

As mentioned earlier, it’s essential to purchase a treadmill with the right amount of cushioning and support to avoid pain from impact. We recommend choosing a highly-rated option and carefully reading all reviews before purchasing!

If you’re working out in a public gym, the options are more limited. However, your gym will likely have the proper equipment to avoid injuries—not to mention lawsuits.

Start by Stretching and Warming Up

As we mentioned earlier, one surefire way to get injured while working out is to skip a proper warmup!

Start your workout by stretching out your legs and back. A warmup can be really anything you want, but a common one is to start by walking on the treadmill to get your body used to moving. Spend around fifteen minutes doing your warmup before heading into your main run for the day.

Avoid Using the Incline Setting

The Best Treadmill

While the incline setting on your treadmill can increase the number of calories burned, it can also cause more pain afterward since the impact is different. Unless you absolutely need to use the incline, for example, to prepare for an uphill run, use the starter settings to avoid too much muscle strain.

End Your Workout with a Proper Cooldown

Just as starting your workout with a warmup is essential, ending it with a cooldown is also necessary. Once you’ve finished your main run, slow down by walking for ten to fifteen minutes to give your body time to return to equilibrium.

Be Sure to Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Rest

Lastly, don’t overdo your exercise! While it may be tempting to run every day, you need to give your body the proper time to rest and recuperate.

Too much exercise is another way to guarantee injuries, including back pain and muscle strain. Generally, it is recommended to work out three times a week with cardio. Always listen to your body! If you’re in pain on a workout day, rest instead of pushing yourself.

How to Treat Back Pain After Treadmill Use

Back pain after a workout may be inevitable at some point in a runner’s life. While you should do as much as you can to prevent it, you may find yourself needing to treat it at some point as well. Luckily, minor back pain from exercise shouldn’t require a trip to the doctor’s office. Some at-home treatments include:

  • Stretching it out: The tension in your back may just need to be stretched to get rid of the pain!
  • Refraining from working out for a day or two: Again, taking rest days is absolutely imperative when dealing with an exercise-related injury.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers: Medicines like Tylenol and Ibuprofen should help with your back pain. Consult a doctor if over-the-counter (OTC) medicine isn’t enough.
  • Icing the area or using a heating pad: Both heating and cooling can help ease muscle pain.

If the pain persists, consider getting a massage to relieve the tension. There are plenty of masseuses out there who specialize in sports-related pain, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding someone to help. However, this can get quite expensive, so we recommend trying the above at-home solutions first!

Final Thoughts

Just like any workout, running on a treadmill can cause pain in the back and shoulders. While this is usually due to poor posture while working out, it can also be caused by other factors such as unsupportive shoes and improper equipment. Back pain can be avoided by limiting the impact on your body while walking or running and taking proper rest days. However, if treatment is necessary, pain relievers and stretching can do the trick.

Benny Laker

I am the owner of High Tech Fitness. I love testing any kind of exercise equipment and enjoy sharing my insights with you.

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