Treadmill Accidents and How to Prevent Them

People don’t often give much thought to treadmill accidents and the resulting injuries but they do occur. New owners should familiarize themselves with their machines and not try to walk or run too fast, especially if they are out of shape, until they know how the treadmill works and responds.

Before we look at how to prevent treadmill accidents caused by “user error,” let’s first discuss those instances when the problem is with the treadmill itself.

Treadmill Malfunctions

A motor control board malfunction is the biggest culprit for unexpected and sudden acceleration or deceleration of a treadmill while in use. Should this happen to your machine, you should immediately unplug it and report the problem to the manufacturer.

Also, if you registered the warranty with the manufacturer, you will receive a recall notice if the problem has been reported happening to other owners, even if your machine seems to be fine.

An MCB can fail due to lack of lubrication on the belt. You might need to have your machine repaired by a technician, or you can read about how to replace the treadmill motor control board yourself.

A slick belt surface can also cause treadmill accidents. Some cheap treadmills have thin belts that lack good traction. A slick surface, combined with old running shoes that have worn tread, can make for a slippery run and potential treadmill accidents.

Inspect the belt on a regular basis and replace it when necessary. You should also refer to your owner’s manual regarding the proper tension on the belt as well as instructions on lubrication.

Maybe It’s Not the Treadmill; It’s You

Unfortunately, most injuries are due to operator error. These instances would include treadmill users who are simply not paying attention and lose their balance, or think they can step onto a moving belt from the side frame, or misjudge how fast a 4mph or more really is. They’ve all fallen and been tossed off the treadmill.

Tips for Treadmill Workouts

There are also people who run barefoot on a treadmill – which can cause stress fractures in the leg. Always wear proper footwear; athletic shoes add cushioning and protect the legs and joints from this type of injury, as well as give you better traction when running on the treadmill.

There are also a number of deliberate and intentional mishaps – in other words, horsing around and videotaping the results – which are quite funny but obviously painful.

Kids and Treadmills are a Dangerous Mix

All joking aside, adults, and especially children, can be seriously injured in treadmill accidents. Boxer Mike Tyson’s 4-year-old daughter in 2009 died after she was found with a treadmill cord wrapped around her neck.

Small kids are naturally curious and seem inclined to stick their fingers under a moving belt, which can cause severe injuries. Kids have gotten long hair caught in the moving belt and rollers, while others have been thrown across the room into walls, and many more simply trip and tumble face first onto the deck or console.

Prevent treadmill accidents by keeping these safety tips in mind if you have young children in the home:

  • Keep your child away from the treadmill when you are working out.
  • Like the stove and oven, teach your child that the treadmill is a “don’t touch” object, and be sure to supervise your child whenever he/she is in the same room as the treadmill.
  • Remove the safety power key and hide it away so that kids cannot turn on a treadmill when they are alone. (A treadmill will not start without the safety key inserted.)

The Emergency Stop

Users can prevent accidents by using the red emergency stop button, which is always located at the bottom of the console on every motorized treadmill.

You may think you’ll never need it, but at times when you aren’t familiar with a pre-set program and the belt speeds up to a run, it’s the best way to stop the machine before you lose your balance. You can also use the cord attached to the stop key.

Wrap it around your wrist or clipped to your clothing, then if you should fall while running, the cord yanks the key out of the console and the treadmill stops.

By keeping your treadmill maintained and using a little common sense, you can prevent treadmill accidents and injuries to yourself and the little ones in your home.

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