One reason many people buy a treadmill is the treadmill cushioning that provides shock absorption on foot-strike and a lower-impact workout than walking or running on pavement.
Treadmill cushioning has come a long way in recent years. In fact, I’m impressed with the treadmill shock absorption technology offered by some treadmill manufacturers. Some shock absorption techniques reduce the impact by as much as 40 percent.
What is bad cushioning technique?
There are 2 bad forms of cushioning:
1. Thick running belt
Yes, it would be a bit of a joke for a treadmill manufacturer to claim that it offers treadmill shock absorption technology due to the thickness of the tread belt.
Any treadmill that says its thick treadmill belt is good for low-impact cardio is no good. In other words, don’t buy a treadmill for low-impact workouts, because the treadmill belt is thicker.
In fact, thick belts are not considered a cushioning technology. These days you won’t find many, if any, treadmill manufacturers touting thick belts as a cushioning technology. I want to mention this so that you know it when you first start researching treadmills. It may occur to you that looking for the thickest tread belt around may be the best approach. It is not.
2. Spring Technology
Spring technology results in a bouncy treadmill deck. This is not optimal treadmill shock absorption.
What is good cushioning technique?
In short, the quality treadmill cushioning that turns a treadmill into a low-impact cardio machine is one where the running deck is cushioned in some fashion.
3 kinds of shock absorption technologies:
1. Full Tread-deck Cushioning
Full tread-deck cushioning is where the cushioning of the treadmill deck is uniform across the deck.
2. Multi-Zone Cushioning
Variable cushioning is where the tread deck is softer in the front where you step down and stronger in the back where you lift. This treadmill is the best form of shock absorption. It provides low impact where it is needed and a firm lift-off for running performance.
3. Adjustable Cushioning
Adjustable cushioning is where you can actually adjust the amount of cushioning on the running deck. Note, some treadmills with adjustable cushioning will either have an equal amount of cushioning over the entire running deck or, on higher-end models, provide multi-zone cushioning.
generally shock absorption
As you can see from some of the major treadmill manufacturers above, the technology varies, yet one commonality is that the cushioning is not based on a thicker tread belt. Fortunately treadmill cushioning technology is much more advanced than that.
Can You Have Too Much Cushioning?
Yes. I equate a lot of cushioning to running in the sand. If you are a performance runner, your running performance is compromised if the running deck is too soft. That’s why, if you can afford it, it’s best to get multi-zone treadmill cushioning technology.
Treadmill cushioning isn’t the ultimate low-impact cardio machine
If you have severe joint and/or back problems, cushioning may not be enough for you. Instead, you may want to consider a low-impact cardio machine such as an elliptical trainer, stepper, and/or exercise bike.
On the other hand, if you’re a runner and don’t have joint and/or back problems, using a treadmill with cushioning technology can prolong your running career. In fact, mixing in a treadmill workout with your pavement running workout provides low-impact cardio workouts that relax your joints and provide relief from the constant hard-impact workouts of pavement running.
Advanced shock absorption technology costs money
Another similarity to some of the above treadmills is that there are more advanced treadmill cushioning options on the treadmill that cost more money. If cushioning is important to you, be prepared to pay for a treadmill that costs more.