Treadmills have long been regarded as a safe and effective alternative to running outside. Thanks to the continuous innovation and improvement in technology, we now know that treadmills are more than just a mechanical gadget with a spinning belt on which you run or walk. Treadmills have the ability to do so much more!

The curved treadmill is becoming more popular these days. It is a modern concave-shaped running machine that is powered exclusively by your legs and is designed for natural human movement.

But what makes it different? What can it do for your body? Let’s find out more.

What is a Curved Treadmill?

A curved treadmill does not need electricity, and the top speed is similar to that of outside running. The curve’s design is intended to imitate the natural stride pattern, decreasing joint load while perhaps boosting demand on the posterior chain. Additionally, the curved, slatted running surface allows you to force the treadmill belt forward by pushing your body forward with the balls of your feet.

Curved treadmills are used by rehab patients and fitness enthusiasts of all levels, in addition to sports teams and athletes.

How Does a Curved Treadmill Work?

Gravity, friction, and the release of forces during running are the mechanical secrets of curved treadmills. Because of its curved design, the foot and weight of the body literally pull the tread down and back during the downstroke rearward. Because the point of contact is well ahead of the centre of mass, the feeling of support is unlike that of other non-motorised treadmills or running on the ground.

While the changes are not visible to the human eye, they are sufficient to de-load the body with vertical ground response forces. Running on the curve may help certain athletes or fitness enthusiasts lessen the stress that vertical ground reaction forces place on their legs.

However, since curved treadmills are made differently, measuring forces on them can be quite challenging because force plates are typically broad and flat.

The ability to reduce horizontal friction of the early part of foot impact to reduce artificial changes to the firing pattern is the key to an effective curved treadmill. The muscle firing pattern will improve if there is reduced friction early during foot impact.

Technically, you use relatively little horizontal force contribution at top speed because most of the speed is generated by redirecting vertical force, but in running locomotion, the hip employs horizontal forces submaximally. The controversy over whether force is more crucial for speed has died down, as a new study shows that a balance of all three forces—lateral, horizontal, and vertical—is essential. Hence, using a curved treadmill is the same as overground running.

Why Use Curved Treadmills?

There’s more to just working out and using your treadmill. And switching to a curved treadmill will allow you to get more out of every workout you do. Here are the reasons:

Burns calories faster

You can burn 30% more calories when using a curved treadmill. Curved treadmills are ideal for High-Intensity Interval Training because of their higher intensity (HIIT). You’ll raise your heart rate faster and maintain it, increasing your oxygen demand and helping you burn more calories than you would with ordinary aerobic activity.

Engages more muscle groups

Treadmills work by moving the floor beneath you which means that you only have to push up off the ground rather than fully using your legs. However, curved treadmills require you to do all of the work, which engages more muscle groups. This action puts a lot of pressure on your glutes, calves, and hamstrings. It also engages the entire posterior chain as well as all of your stabilising muscles.

Less pain in your joints

At the beginning of your movement, the curve comes up to meet your foot. This, combined with the cushioned rubber surface, means reduced stress on your knees, ankles, hips, and back. Therefore, less ground-pounding equals less shock, less wear and tear over time, and fewer injuries.

Ideal for HIIT workouts and sprints

Curved treadmills allow you to accelerate quickly and attain a higher top speed almost immediately, allowing you to push yourself even harder. And that’s only the beginning; HIIT and sprint workouts also challenge you to calm down quickly.

Slowing down on a curved treadmill is as easy as slowing down while running outside. Regular treadmills are notorious for rapidly slowing down. When you’re running at a ridiculously high speed, sometimes to fatigue, you don’t have the energy or the coordination to wait for a motorised treadmill to slow down so quickly. The curved treadmill is an excellent choice for a home HIIT cardio workout.

All of these characteristics combine to make curved treadmills ideal for HIIT and sprinting.

Helps improve your form

Curved treadmills encourage proper running mechanics and posture. They allow you to run easily on the balls of your feet like a true athlete, giving you more speed and agility in the real world.

Pros & Cons of Curved Treadmills

Pros Cons
No electricity needed Bulky
Safer to use Not ideal for casual runs
Simple to use Does not fold
No need for pre-programmed workouts Expensive
Less maintenance

Pros

No electricity needed

Curved treadmills don’t need electricity and will not cause you to pay more in your electric bill. You won’t have to search for an available power outlet or get tangled up in kilometres of extension cords.

Safer to use

Curved treadmills stop automatically when you stop which reduces the risk of falling and being thrown. Their running decks have better traction than motorised treadmill belts. More grip makes it simpler to press the belt, but it also makes it more difficult to slip off. And because they don’t contain motorised parts that generate a lot of heat or friction, curved treadmills are also less of a fire threat.

Simple to use

Since curved treadmills have fewer to no buttons, you don’t have to figure out how to use them or wait for the machine to power up. It is simple to use – just step on it and you can take off.

No Need for Pre-Programmed Workouts

You don’t have to rely on pre-programmed programs with a curved treadmill. You can change your speed at any time to suit your mood. You can start or stop without thinking about it, and you can just go with the flow instead of messing with beeps and buttons.

Less maintenance

Curved treadmills are low-maintenance devices because they don’t have motorised parts. The non-motorised belts are more robust than those of the traditional treadmill belts. Hence, they won’t require frequent maintenance or adjustment.

Cons

Bulky

Curved treadmills are typically larger than flat-belt treadmills of the same size. Tiny curved treadmills are available, although they have a bigger footprint than compact flat-belt treadmills.

Not ideal for casual runs

If you enjoy lengthy, casual runs where you can let your mind wander while your body works, a curved treadmill may disappoint you. Even walking on a curved treadmill is more difficult than on a flat motorised treadmill.

Does not fold

If you don’t have enough space in your home, a curved treadmill may not be the best choice for you. Hence, you should consider using a foldable treadmill instead if you really want to have regular workouts.

Expensive

Because of the manual belt technology, curved treadmills are more expensive than most workout equipment. They come in with bare minimum features so don’t expect to see Bluetooth, speakers, USB chargers, and the like. Many models also don’t have a screen and they come with minimal workout data.

Conclusion

The proper use of a curved treadmill provides considerable health and performance benefits. Knowing why we should use it is only half of the rationale. Understanding the principles and methodology behind why and how we train can help us get more out of this evolutionary running mode. Every coach or fitness enthusiast who uses a curved treadmill should look at the broad picture and consider what they expect to happen differently as compared to jogging on a flat surface or on the ground, notably on standard treadmills and the track or grass. Before buying something like a curved treadmill, do some study and practice on yourself, so go out and try it out!

Related Questions

1. Are curved treadmills powered?

Because curved treadmills are designed for natural human movement, it is powered solely by your legs. Hence, it doesn’t need electricity and it is very similar to outdoor running.

2. Is a curved treadmill better than a motorised treadmill?

Manual curved treadmills are considerably better for sprinting and HIIT than motorised treadmills because they allow you to accelerate and decelerate faster and more precisely. You’ll sprint faster than a typical treadmill’s motor can turn since you can regulate the speed of your run just like you would do when running outside.

Emma Pyke
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