Proper Running Form on the Treadmill

Common Treadmill Woe: How to Avoid a Stiff Neck While Running

Many people prefer hitting the treadmill to running outdoors, but if you're not careful, along with that toned tush you might end up with a stiff neck, resulting in a nagging headache. Follow these tips the next time you hop on the treadmill to prevent this common running woe.

Keep Your Gaze Forward
One gym perk is its televisions, which allow you to catch up on the news or your favorite TV show. It becomes a problem, however, if your gym mounts its TVs on the wall instead of using individual screens on each machine — if you're looking up and to the right for 30 minutes straight, it's no secret why your neck hurts! Avoid cranking your head upward or all the way to one side by choosing a treadmill directly in front of the TV you're watching. Or better yet, bring in your iPad and place it on the magazine rack of your machine to keep your head directly over your spine. The same goes for chatting with your running buddy on the treadmill next to you — keep the conversation going while looking straight ahead.

Keep reading for more tips on preventing neck pain on the treadmill.

It's Time to Let Go
There's something comforting about holding the handles on the treadmill machine, but this takes away from the natural swing of your arms and can cause tense shoulders, leading to neck and upper back pain. If holding the sides calms your fears of falling while on the treadmill, it probably means you're moving too fast. Simply slow down your pace until you feel comfortable and balanced. But If you're holding onto the sides because you're tired, it means it's time to end your workout. If you just like the idea of holding onto something, hop on an elliptical instead, which allows you to grip the handles and still pump your arms.

It's a Form Thing
If you suffer from a tense neck and shoulders, it's time to rethink your running form. The moving belt may subconsciously cause you to lean forward and hover near the front of the treadmill to prevent you from falling off. Moving at a pace that's faster than you're comfortable with can contribute to this, so choose a pace that's fast enough to keep your heart rate up, but slow enough that you can keep your torso upright. Every few minutes, do a body check to make sure your hands aren't in a tight fist, your shoulders aren't scrunched up toward your ears, and your jaw isn't clenched which can also cause neck pain or headaches.

Source: Thinkstock
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