Regardless of age, weight, goals, or experience, holding onto your treadmill while you exercise will keep you from getting the most out of your treadmill workout.
Rails on a treadmill exist for liability purposes, maximum profit, and to hold onto when you turn around to see who’s behind you. The front bar is for checking heart rate. They do not help at all with your workout.
- Ruins posture and body alignment
- Reduces calories burned
- Reduces effects of incline
- Doesn’t build balance
Holding onto the treadmill creates a disrupted posture where the body is in a slumped, forward posture. Tall people who hold on are especially at risk for developing this. View a tall person from the side who’s clinging to the machine. Note the disrupted posture, which may include a butt that’s sticking out. No back specialist alive would endorse this, even if the walker is 80 years old.
Reduced Calorie Burn
With a high setting on a treadmill, caloric burn is very high. But this reading is triggered by the program settings only! If you let the tread move without anything on it, it would still show the same impressive calorie total. Because holding on eliminates substantial workload from the legs and even the shoulder girdle, the actual calories burned is far lower than the bright red number flashing on the console.
Reduced Incline Effect
Think about the last time you hiked up a hill, what did you hold onto? It makes no sense to hold onto the treadmill while using a grade.
When you grab onto the front bar or console, your body tilts back, making it perpendicular to the inclined tread surface. This is the same angle relationship as when walking on a level course! In other words, if the tread incline is at 15 percent, and you’re gripping the machine, your entire body is angled back—at 15 percent! You’ve just cancelled out the effect of the grade.
The real world is full of uneven surfaces, and you walk on them all the time. Your brain constantly sends signals down your spinal cord to help you navigate just where your body is in space, thus preventing you from falling. Holding onto the treadmill interferes with these signals, thus downgrading your coordination. If you hold on, even lightly, you take valuable work away from your neuro-muskuloskeletal system. In short, holding on outright de-activates your body’s balancing mechanism.
Next time you are on your treadmill, try to let go. If you feel that you are going to slide right off the treadmill, lower the resistance or incline.