Treadmills can be great for getting a workout, but they can feel weird for some people at first. This is because the belt moves under your feet in a way that is very different from running outside. That’s what leads many to wonder why it feels weird to run on a treadmill.
You may need to take a little time to get used to running on a treadmill, but eventually, you will find that it is a great way to get in a workout when you can’t run outside. There are several benefits to running on a treadmill in addition to the fact that it helps you get in a workout when you otherwise may not be able to.
There are three main reasons why it feels awkward to run on a treadmill. First, the belt moves underneath your feet while you stay stationary. Secondly, you are moving up and down and side to side but not forward which can cause a type of motion sickness. Thirdly, treadmills being inside and not creating any airflow when running can cause your body to run hotter.
Why Does It Feel Weird to Run on A Treadmill?
The three main reasons it feels weird to run on a treadmill are the belt moving underneath you instead of you moving forward, being stationary while bouncing up and down and side to side, and lack of airflow can cause overheating.
Belt Moving Underneath
The odd motion sickness type feeling you can get from running on a treadmill is very similar to the feeling you have after you get off of a boat or a roller coaster. Your body adapts to the movement and how that feels, and when it changes, the body needs to adapt again.
On a boat, for example, you’re standing still but the boat is moving around. At first, this causes seasickness, but after you get used to it you are fine. The same phenomenon takes place when you get back to land. Your body is used to movement when standing still, so being completely still confuses the brain for a minute.
The same goes for a treadmill. You are used to accelerating and moving forward when you walk or run. When you do the same physical movement, but you don’t move forward, your body has to adapt to that. This goes for when you get off the treadmill as well. The change in how your “environment” reacts takes a bit of getting used to by the brain and your vestibular system.
Being Stationary While Moving
This one goes hand in hand with the one above. Your body is used to moving forward, seeing the world pass by, feeling the wind in your face, and many other cues it gets that you are moving. Even when you close your eyes, you can feel if you are moving forward or backward.
When your body has all of the physical cues of moving (running) but doesn’t get the sensory cues, like visually seeing the world move and feeling the movement, it can cause balance issues in the vestibular system. One aspect of this is where you focus when you are on the treadmill. Focusing on one specific point can help, but doing things like watching TV or trying to read can make it worse.
No Airflow – Body Runs Hotter
The third reason you may experience an odd feeling on a treadmill is airflow. Our bodies are used to wind blowing on our bodies when we run which helps to cool our bodies down. On a treadmill, since you are stationary, there is nothing to help move excess body heat away from the body. This is one disadvantage of a treadmill.
This can cause the entire area to heat up depending on where you are using a treadmill. Our bodies produce enough heat to power a 100W lightbulb normally, so you can imagine how much that is amplified when we are running on a treadmill. If running in any sort of confined space, it’s going to be very warm.
That warmth, combined with it potentially being stuffy, can cause the runner to feel odd, weird, or even almost sick.
When you put it all together, you have a potentially hot and stuffy area, a confused vestibular system, and an entire process that is out of the ordinary. This is all without mentioning the psychological factors of being in a confined space, having to worry about hitting your knees on the front or falling off the back, etc.
Running on a treadmill can honestly be a stressful event for some people.
How Do I Stop Getting Dizzy on The Treadmill?
Unfortunately, in this situation, practice makes perfect. However, there are some other things you can do to help mitigate some of the issues above. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Use a fan
- Start slow/end slow
- Focus on one point
- Check your treadmill’s stability
1/ Use a Fan
One thing that helps many people is to simply use a fan. A fan will help with airflow, keep you cooler, and give a signal to your brain that you are running. While it may not be the be-all-end-all for everyone, it can certainly help if experiencing any of these weird or odd feelings when running on a treadmill.
2/ Start Slow / End Slow
There is nothing worse than getting off a treadmill after running for a long time and just stopping cold turkey. As soon as you step off the treadmill you are on solid ground but not moving. This is very confusing for your inner ear and other balance regulating agencies in the body.
Warm-up with a slow walk that gets progressively faster and cools down the same way. If running, slow down to a jog and then to a walk. This will help your body acclimate to life back on solid ground. Also, when you get off after running, the muscles in your legs you use for running are full of blood. This can make you feel “weird” going from a long run to a quick stop.
3/ Focus on One Point
As mentioned earlier, it can help to focus on one specific point in front of you when running or walking on a treadmill. This will help your brain realize that you are moving and should hopefully minimize any issues with feeling odd or dizzy. Watching TV, looking around, or scrolling on your phone can certainly make the dizzy feeling worse.
I know, treadmills can be boring, and I’m not saying you cannot do those things, but understand if you are having these issues they may be contributing.
4/ Check Your Treadmill’s Stability
This one is more for people who have treadmills at home. If you are running on a treadmill that is not level or is wobbly, it can cause all sorts of balance issues. These can lead to feeling odd or even sick while on the treadmill.
Check to make sure your treadmill is level and on a firm surface before using it. If it’s still wobbling, try putting some weight on the front or back of the treadmill to help stabilize it. It’s also important to have a treadmill that is stable to help extend it’s life and not wear out too soon.
All in all, there are many reasons why you may feel odd or even sick while running on a treadmill. However, with a little bit of time and practice, most people can overcome these feelings and use treadmills without any issues. The next time you find yourself asking “Why does it feel weird to run on a treadmill” think of this list and try out a few of our suggestions.