Reasons to stay off the treadmill

Granted, walking or running on a treadmill is better than not exercising at all, but you can spend less time and get more mind-body benefits out of just about any other form of exercise.

1. How much sense does it make to burn coal or natural gas or split atoms  a hundred miles away, convert that energy to electricity (with the ensuing loss to heat), transport it over wires (losing some of it to resistance) and convert it to kinetic energy (losing much of it to heat), in order to be able to move your body which you could do anyway?

2. Treadmills are synonymous with boring. People listen to music, watch tv, and read while on them. You have a relationship with your body. Actually, you ARE your body but you start to forget that when you treat your body like a machine that you can check in for routine maintenance while you check out and go do something else. Exercise is your chance to truly inhabit your body, to integrate your body, mind and spirit. You are eroding that relationship when you set your body to one task and your mind to something else entirely.

3. The posterior chain is a group of muscles, tendons and ligaments on the back of your lower body. Examples of these muscles include the glutes, hamstring, lower back, and calves. This is where your explosive forward power comes from, the basis for most athletic movement.

When you run, your posterior chain pushes the ground away and behind you. On a treadmill, the aforementioned coal or natural gas or nuclear energy moves the ground for you, taking the posterior chain largely out of the equation. Now when you really get outside and run, your posterior chain is weak compared to the quads and you are vulnerable to knee injury. This Michigan chiropractor sees running injuries every Spring when his clients start running outdoors again. He advises them to cut their running down by 75% from their treadmill runs to true running to build up the strength of the posterior chain.

You can mitigate this problem by putting the treadmill on an incline.

4. Proprioreception is the complex neural feedback system that lets us know where our body is in space and how it is moving. It has a lot to do with what we call “coordination.”  Naturally, since the human body didn’t evolve running on treadmills, our proprioreceptors don’t quite know what’s going on when our legs are pumping away but the landscape around us isn’t changing. We throw ourselves into a neural confusion, and the body then needs to get its “land legs” back when we return to reality. This is one aspect of reason #2, eroding the mind/body relationship.

So– what can you do for cardiovascular exercise and your posterior chain?

Martial arts and kettlebell swings!

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~ by nolashaolin on April 16, 2009.

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