Monday, April 13, 2020

How Much Treadmill Incline To Use?

Getting tested at the then Racers' Toolbox (now Coached)
My patient who had been running outside contacted me after reading that running outside was more dangerous. After checking the viral article she read, I reminded her that the Belgian engineers chose to bypass all standard publishing protocols so that article wasn't reliable (picture below showing the simulated spread droplets of breathing, coughing and sneezing from people who are walking, running or cycling).
Picture by ANSYS taken from here 
Despite my reassurance, she decided that she would run indoors for now since she had a treadmill at home. She was wondering what incline she should be using while running.

The hills we run or cycle up outdoors are measured as a percentage. The treadmill also displays incline as a percentage. So if you've set the incline on your treadmill to 1.5, it means you are running at a 1.5 percent incline (not level 1.5). Most treadmills allow you to adjust the incline from 0 to 12 percent. Some models even allow for a decline. Good if you want to practice running downhill.

I suggested to my patient that she should set her treadmill at the 1 percent incline as research shows that it will simulate outdoor running as it makes up the lack of wind resistance while running indoors (Jones and Doust, 1996). This is especially so if you're running between 12 to 17 km an hour. Under 12 km an hour no adjustment is necessary as the difference is small, but you can probably still set the incline at 1 percent for an extra challenge. This may also help you transition back to running outside.

I suggested running by effort rather than by than speed alone as this may reduce the risk of fatigue, injury and frustration. This will also help with pacing before she returns to running outside.

If you too have read that viral article, the article suggested staying at least 4-5 meters behind others when walking in a single file, 10 meters while running or cycling slowly and 20 meters while cycling quickly.

I definitely don't have a treadmill and I prefer to run and bike outside. My suggestion is to respect everyone's space. Don't run or pass too close, don't follow behind and don't cut in too quickly. Stay safe.


Jones AM and Doust JU (1996). A 1% Treadmill Grade Most Accurately Reflects The Energetic Cost Of Outdoor Running. J Sports Sci. 14(4): 321-327.

Today's Straits Times 13/4/2020 on page B21 under the Sports Section too mentioned the guidelines laid out in the viral article.

Today paper published it's commentary on that same article on 15/4/2020. You can read it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment