December 2019 Newsletter

Treadmill Running vs. Outdoor Running:  What’s the Difference?

    As warmer weather brings more runners outside, many wonder why all of those winter treadmill miles don’t seem to translate into outdoor miles.  There are many arguments about the difference between the two, but the reality is treadmill running does not require the same force production of the hamstrings and gluteus maximus as outdoor running.  The hamstrings and the gluteus maximus are the primary extensors of the hip.  They move the leg back behind the body as you push off of the ground to gain forward movement.  The motorized belt of the treadmill requires much less force of the hamstrings and glutes to perform the same task of hip extension as compared to outdoor running.  Basically, the motorized treadmill reduces the amount of active hip extension by moving the leg passively back behind the body.  This is only exaggerated as you increase the incline of the treadmill.  

        You can make the argument that without the glutes and hamstrings pushing you forward on the treadmill you would simply fall off the back.  If you look closely at the interaction between the runner and the treadmill you will notice that you simply need to produce enough force to remain upright and not actually move forward.  If you did produce the force to move forward you would simply run into the front of the treadmill.  There is no forward horizontal displacement of the runner, but there is backward horizontal displacement of the treadmill belt.  This is actually the opposite interaction when the runner trains outdoors.

        Why is this a big deal?  The main physical factors that determine performance and injury prevention are balanced muscular strength, optimal mobility of the joints, flexibility of the soft tissue structures, and optimal health of the individual soft tissues.  When you partake in any activity that preferentially over-trains one area or function of the body (hip flexion) and under-trains another (hip extension) you develop muscular imbalances.  Muscular imbalances result in alterations of normal movement patterns.  These changes in biomechanics place stress on areas of the body that are not intended to handle these demands.  Since the body is a dynamic interrelated system, usually more than one muscle is involved and the “weak link” in the chain manifests as an injury.  Eventually, subtle changes in movement patterns develop into larger problems.  Shortened muscles that cannot properly lengthen and restricted joints combine to impair coordination, reduce strength, and result in further injuries. This cycle will repeat itself unless the primary cause of the injury is properly addressed. 

Active Performance Chiropractic focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic-related injuries.  Treatment is a unique blend of Active Release Techniques®, traditional chiropractic therapy, and physical rehabilitation designed to match each patient’s goals and lifestyle.