Youth Wrestling




Treadmill Training Secrets – Treadmills: How do they compare to road running?

The single most effective path to reaching optimal performance and conditioning for wrestling is to wrestle…

So why am I bringing up treadmill training?  First, its one of those pieces of exercise equipment that doesn’t do all the things you think it does.  That doesn’t necessarily make it bad, but isn’t it good to know what benefits you’re really getting out of using it? 

Second, for wrestlers, and cardio training for athletes in general, the heart stops conditioning after 24 minutes and “anything over 3 miles, 3 times a week is done for reasons other than fitness.”  I didn’t say that, but Dr. Kenneth Cooper the “father of aerobics” did. There is mounting evidence that too much aerobic exercise of any type, causes the blood vessels to inflame from the overstress.

Third, in the area of injury prevention, with the constant pounding of the musculature over time, distance running damages the lower back, knees, shins and ankles. You will find conflicting data on this, but every distance runner I know suffers from some form of repetitive use injury to the point where many of them are no longer able to run.

So here’s the scoop on treadmills:

“Treadmills are actually worse than road running as it only mimics running and is producing a slew of lower back injuries.  Think of it; in true running you are propelling yourself across a surface.  In treadmill running you are trying to keep from falling on your nose.  While the movement looks the same, biomechanically it uses the opposite muscles for different reasons and hence the injuries.”  Dr. William Wong, ND, PhD.*

And this statement from Dr. Nicholas Romanov, A world class coach, author, educator and a sport scientist with over 30 years of experience and hands on work with athletes of all levels.

“While it doesn't matter for mechanics which of the interacting bodies is moving: the belt or the body, it is not so for biomechanics. It makes a big difference there. The major one lies in the fact that in treadmill running, unlike over ground running, our upper body is not moving forward, it's our feet that are moved backwards by the running belt.

This difference creates a different bio-motor pattern of the movement, where we have to produce some (otherwise undesirable) activity of the upper body to keep it against tipping over the support foot on the belt of the treadmill in order to keep the body in balance. So we have to hold our body to keep it from falling forward and we have to catch the running belt instead of our falling body.”

You can read the full text of this article here:

Treadmill Running

That’s a pretty powerful analysis of the differences and surely not what treadmill equipment manufacturers would ever tell you.  I’ve got nothing against runners or the sport of running and nothing against treadmills even though I absolutely despise running. 

What I do want to expose is the fact that what you get from using a treadmill is not the same as road running.

The treadmill gurus hate this type of data and will fight you tooth and nail on its validity.

But from a common sense standpoint, would the biomechanics of shooting a double leg takedown on a conveyor belt be the same as using a wrestling mat?

Now if you’re looking for silver linings from treadmill training, here they are:

1. Its easier than road running unless you’re on an incline

2. Its less damaging to bones and joints because the moving belt absorbs some of the impact.

3. Its a good tool for testing because it can generate physiological conditions like increasing heart rates for stress tests.

4. With a relatively small foot print of about 3’ by 6’ a treadmill occupies small area.

5. Can be used regardless of the weather outside.

There you have it. Now it’s your option to take this data and interpret it any way that you like, but be aware of the facts.  The benefits of treadmill training are limited.

By: Rick Contrata

*World Sports Medicine Hall of Fame member, Dr. William Wong is a Classical Naturopath, Ph.D. Exercise Physiologist, a Certified Athletic Trainer (AATA), Certified Sports Medicine Trainer (ASMA) and Health/Fitness Consultant.




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