Sprinting on Treadmills Part 5

3

Some Closing Pros and Cons of Treadmill Running:

Pros:

  • Provides constant or controllable climate conditions.
  • Can be instrumented with biomechanical analysis equipment potentially providing valuable kinetic or kinematic data.
  • Shock dampening surface…softer surfaces should reduce the risk of injury.
  • High speed treadmills permit an athlete to work top end speed independently of acceleration abilities. This potentially provides some interesting and positive training scenarios.
  • Easy to place a mirror in front of the athlete which permits some augmented feedback that is nearly impossible to incorporate in overground running. Whether this is something you want do do is another question.
  • Easy to manipulate velocity and incline both of which have been shown to enhance speed.

Cons:

  • Shock dampening surface….softer surfaces are slower and potentially reduce elastic response of neuromuscular system.
  • They are almost always placed indoors…who wants to be indoors when you can go outside?
  • Sprinting on a treadmill alters overground mechanics. The extent of the change appears to be related to running speed.
  • Using a treadmill at maximal speeds is potentially dangerous.
  • There are no curves on a treadmill. There are on a track. If you’re training for any of the long sprints you miss out on the simple but important skill of running turns.
  • High speed treadmills are very expensive, especially if outfitted with force plates • Intra=stride belt-speed variation can affect treadmill sprinting.
  • It is nearly impossible to develop acceleration abilities on a treadmill (although when I was at the Frappier R&D center a couple years ago they were developing some interesting technology in hopes of addressing this).
  • On a treadmill the athlete doesn’t experience any wind resistance as they would in overground running. Wind resistance increases drag and potentially vertical lift (Davies, 1980). To compensate for this issue, some have suggested that athletes on a treadmill should up the incline to 2-3 degrees from level. This recommendation is based on studies comparing oxygen consumption on a treadmill with overground running and obviously only increases any gap in the technique used on treadmill and overground running.
  • Unless an enormous treadmill with a longer-than-normal belt is used the minor fluctuations that are inevitable in top-end speed sprinting can cause problems because the belt moves at a relatively constant rate.
  • It is difficult to control for treadmill speed when using the treadmill for short speed endurance or speed endurance work. That is, the treadmill belt speed tends to accelerate or decelerate in a somewhat uniform manner which is in contrast to an athlete.

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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young

@mikeyoung

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