Running is one of the most natural movements for the human body, but it’s still possible to do it wrong.  Poor running form negatively affects efficiency and speed while increasing the potential for injuries. Even seasoned runners need a reminder of good form now and then, since bad habits have a tendency to creep in over time. If you’re a runner, check for these common treadmill running mistakes in yourself and others the next time you visit the fitness center.


·      Running too close to the front of the treadmill.


If you’re really close to the front of the treadmill deck, your legs won’t have enough room and your stride will suffer, as well as your posture. What’s more, you might accidentally bump the controls and force a sudden acceleration or stop that leads to an injury (or at least embarrassment, which — in the moment — feels just as bad).


·      Jumping off and on a moving treadmill.


This is one many seasoned runners are guilty of. You may think you’re saving time by keeping the treadmill at the same speed when you jump off for a drink or restroom break, but your acrobatics could easily lead to a slip and fall. The movement is also very jarring to your joints and could lead to an injury. Be smart by slowing the treadmill and stepping on the sides before getting on or off.


·      Looking at your feet or the T.V.


Staring at your feet while you’re running affects both your oxygen intake and your running form. Likewise, craning your neck to watch a fitness gym T.V. monitor causes disproportional muscle strain and risks a neck injury. Your head, heart and hips should always be aligned.


·      Holding the bars.


Holding the bars to get on or off the treadmill is one thing, but if you’re holding on while running, you’re not getting a quality workout. Since part of your upper body weight is supported, you won’t burn as many calories, and your leg muscles won’t get the full strengthening effects of your workout. If you feel like you have to hold the bars to stay on the belt, you’re probably trying to run too fast.


·      Swinging your arms across your body.


Arm drive is important since it can increase your running efficiency, but only if it’s forward and backward movement. Swinging your arms across your chest wastes energy in side-to-side motion and throws everything out of alignment. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides and your elbows at 90 degrees.


·      Bouncing up and down.


The point of running is to move horizontally, not vertically. Unnecessary bouncing only wastes energy and puts more impact on your joints when you land. Leaning forward slightly from your ankles (not your hips) can help you overcome this bad treadmill running habit.


·      Squeezing your fists.


It’s natural to cup your hands slightly when you’re running, but don’t ball them up into fists. The tension you create will travel into your arms, neck, back and eventually your legs. Keeping everything relaxed is the key to a comfortable, more efficient run.


Treadmill running isn’t rocket science, but avoiding these seven habits during your cardio sessions at the fitness center will help you run more efficiency, burn more calories, avoid unnecessary injuries, and — if it’s possible for you – actually enjoy it.