Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Get Off the Treadmill!

The "Get Off" series continues (add your own bad joke here_____)

Seems like the past one about foam rollers was like poking a hornet's nest with a big stick; so it should be interesting to see what happens here.

In case you missed the first installment, see the post below

Get Off the Foam Roller

Stay the heck off the darn treadmill!

I find it incredibly odd that when I used to lift at a commercial gym that people would circle the parking lot for several minutes to find a close parking spot only to go in and get on a treadmill. What? Why don't you just leave your car at home and walk to the gym? Yeah I know there are tons of reasons why this may not be practical, but buy a kettlebell (see the dragon link on the upper right hand side) and get some expert instruction from a local RKC and you are on your way. Yes, you can train your CRF (cardiorespiratory fitness aka "cardio") by using a KB.

If you want more details, see the post below where I challenged Carl Lanore at Super Human Radio about his treadmill usage.

Z Health, Proprioception, Neuroplasticity all on Super Human Radio

Why are treadmills bad news bears?
In short, when you are on a treadmill, your joints are telling your brain you are moving; but the eyes tell your brain--no you are not moving you idiot because you are in the same darn place that you were 20 minutes ago! I think this causes some massive confusion with your nervous system and a decrease in performance.

Just watching people walk off a treadmill in any gym---they look like Ted Kennedy after a late night bender.

If people want more treadmill information, this is one of the many topics covered in the Z Health R Phase Certification; so drop me a line for information.

Editor's Note: (I add the following portion in an attempt to better explain myself. I appreciate the comments!).

I am not against exercise at all. I've spend the better part of the past 17 years (yikes, I can't believe I started college in 1992, ugh) studying physiology/engineering in some form. If someone could put the benefits of exercise in a pill, it would be the best selling drug in history almost over night.

Like all things, I believe there is a correct way and a wrong way to do things. Keep in mind that all forms of exercise have a COST. No free lunch. The cost of doing treadmill work I believe is making your muscles weaker (I will be working on a video to demo this in the next few weeks). The cost of attempting a very heavy deadlift with piss poor form may be a back issue. The correct exercise for your body, done correctly will still cost you fuel (think food) to perform it. You get the idea.

The gait (walking/running pattern) on a treadmill is very close to what we would normally do on flat, non moving ground and this compounds the issue. From many studies, we know that if a major league baseball pitcher decided to throw a baseball that is even just a little bit heavier for his training, it would completely screw up his pitching. Some coaches have completely ruined athlete's careers by doing this! The motor learning process is very precise and using a heavier ball for pitching has a negative transfer to his pitching with a regulation ball.

I think the treadmill is too close to our normal gait and seems to have a negative transfer. Other modes of cardio don't seem to do this probably because they are different enough; so bikes (even stationary ones) don't seem to be an issue and most weight lifting is fine also.

It is a free country and nobody any time soon is going to take your treadmill away from you. You are free to use it, I just ask that people keep careful records to make sure it does not have any negative transfer to them (decrease in performance).

Chasing someone around with a metabolic cart to complete a study would be a total pain in the butt, I agree completely. So far to date I've done over 150 exercise tests and I am glad I don't have to chase anyone around (although there are systems to do that). The cardiorespiratory response appears to be fine as anything that uses lots of muscles in a rhythmic fashion will work.

We know so much about CRF since it is much easier to study then strength and even athletic performance in the lab.

Back to the blog again. If people are interested, I am working on a longer version of this based off the many research studies that I pulled. Not sure when it will be done though.

Below are some great treadmill videos for your viewing pleasure that I stole off of Eric Cressey's blog.

I had this one in a presentation years ago---one of my favs!

The rise of "functional treadmill training" Challenge your balance!

Comments? Let me know and post them below.
Rock on
Mike T Nelson