Have you ever wondered what makes a curved treadmill different? Why do some gyms swear by these manual treadmills and others are sticking to the good old fashioned motorized treadmill?
What is a curved treadmill?
It’s a manual or non-motorized treadmill where the platform is shaped like a drawn out u.
Manual treadmills are understandably very hard to get going and maintain any momentum, a curved treadmill helps to resolve this issue. Each stride you take moves the belt very easily and is designed to follow the arc of your stride.
In this case, the belt is made up of slats, rather than a continuous piece, providing a smooth flow over the arc.
You’ll quickly find that it’s easy to really get moving FAST on a curved treadmill, which is why it’s not ideal for everyone.
Curved treadmill benefits:
- Can help to enforce better running form
- Engages more muscles
- Increases calorie burn (claims 30% higher calorie burn due to muscles engaged)
- Ideal for short interval sessions or sprints
- Potential for less joint impact as the curve meets your foot (again I don’t see any data on this)
- Runners tend to stand up straighter and take shorter steps for better form (study)
- No routine maintenance (though how many of you do anything to your normal treadmill?!)
❌Many people also list that they’re safer than a regular treadmill as a benefit.
I think this is debatable as there’s a learning curve (no pun intended) to controlling your speed. You can’t just hit a stop button, you have to physically stop your body.
❌Additionally, I’ve heard it stated that they last longer than a traditional treadmill. Again, I disagree.
My Nordictrack treadmill has over 15,000 miles on it and going strong for at least a decade. That’s roughly the lifespan you’d expect with a curved treadmill, so I’m not onboard with that sales pitch.
Curved treadmill drawbacks:
- It’s not good for long runs
- It’s hard to learn to control your pacing
- You will need to change your pace goals due to the higher effort
- You need to stay alert and aware while using it
It’s not a treadmill I would advise the average runner to purchase for home usage. I think it’s really designed for those doing more Orange Theory style workouts, faster or elite runners.
Not interested in all the research and just want to know what I’d pick?
All the tips on what to look for in a treadmill, along with what I’ve recommended to literally hundreds of runners over the years for treadmills they continue to love.
That being said if you have tested them out and fallen in love, then you need to know what you’re buying and what matters most.
Best Curved Treadmills
Though it would seem with less parts they should be less expensive than a motorized treadmill, you’ll find many are 2 to 4 times the cost. It’s like a bikini, why does so little cost extra?
In this case, it’s largely because they are still new and not mainstream.
Thus this cost hasn’t yet been driven down and many models that are available must be purchased at a commercial level, where there are many at home treadmills which offer less function than their commercial counterparts.
Best for the Fast Runner
Woodway treadmills have long been a high quality favorite of many due to their construction, which is also to say they’re some of the more expensive models for both curved and motorized.
Their curved treadmill is slightly more curved than other brands and therefore makes it much easier to pick up speed very quickly and requires a great deal of good core strength.
Those who have a Woodway will RAVE about the feeling of deck shock absorption and how well the treadmill moves, along with it being quiet. As a treadmill lover, I’ve definitely tried them out and they are great. For my pocket book maybe not an extra $4,000 great.
Best for the At Home Walker
If you’ve decided you like the shape and are willing to put in a little time getting used to the slightly off balance feel to start, after that a curved treadmill for walking can be an excellent tool.
Here’s a look at how slats appear, instead of a flat belt.
The SB Fitness CT400 would be my pick due to the less intense curve of the machine, making it easier to get your bearings and not find yourself constantly going too fast. In fact, they even flat out say this is not designed for distance running and I appreciate the honesty!
You won’t be able to practice any type of incline workout, which increases calories burned and leg strength, but you’ll engage a lot of muscles for higher burn than a flat walk and won’t need a bit of electricity.
Best for Art Work
Hey some folks use their treadmill for hanging clothes, but in this case the treadmill becomes a work of art and thus the price tag at nearly $8000.
The YRRA Jianshu is a beautiful display of curved wood and craftsmanship that actually performs. Honestly, I can’t tell you anything else about this treadmill that makes it different or extra worthwhile than simply the looks.
Best Resistance Training Option
The WOLFMATE curved treadmill might be top of my list for at home options due to the resistance function which is not seen on most of these. I think that applying a little resistance could make it easier to find stabilty when first walking on the treadmill, but also see how it can quickly be used for other workouts.
- Utilizing it in place of a sled pushing workout
- Better for those needing to do hillier races that require more power for uphills (still not the same as hill training)
- Helpful to maintain speed control, so not everything is a sprint
The majority of these curved treadmills are around the $2500 range, with a few on the top around $8,000.
I’ve probably made my personal opinion pretty clear, but that’s just it my opinion.
I have a number of running friends who ADORE running on these and would happily have one at home. I can say most of them are not marathon training or expecting to use it for long treadmill runs.
Looking for more treadmill training tips?
- Benefits of running on a treadmill
- Why does treadmill running feel harder?
- How does an Anti-Gravity Treadmill work?
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