- Holding onto the treadmill creates a “fake walk” or “fake run” situation. Depending on how you’re distributing your weight onto your hands, you may actually be creating a lighter body load onto your legs. Since your legs hold some of the largest muscles in your body (and, you know, help you walk) cheating them from a good workout is only cheating yourself.
- Your arms and shoulders sway in an unnatural fashion to accommodate the new movement, causing unwanted strain. Many chronic treadmill-holder-oners complain of shoulder pain.
- You’re cheating your lower back muscles, which typically engage to stabilize your core and keep you upright.
- You ruin posture. This is especially true of tall people, or people with short arms. Your body isn’t angled the way it is in the real world, and often you must hunch, lean, or otherwise screw up your posture to compensate.
- Holding on reinforces improper spinal alignment. Your foot cannot extend fully so you take smaller step lengths. This can cause repetitive stress injuries in your hips.
- You burn fewer calories (about 20% fewer) by essentially under exerting yourself. We already know the machines suck at counting your calories for you, now you’re making it think you’re engaging multiple muscle groups when really you’re cheating.
- If working at an incline you’re creating an even more unnatural posture. imagine you’re hiking, or running up a hill…do you unnaturally lean back and hold your arms out in front of you? No. If the incline is at 10% and you’re holding on while leaning back, your body is now at a 10% incline.
- You’re cheating your body of balance. The world has many uneven surfaces we often walk on without handlebars in front of you to hold onto.
- Holding on at fast speeds can raise blood pressure due to the grip plus the speed.
Let go of the handlebars! Walk at an incline that you can maintain, don’t jack it up to impress someone else. You are at the gym for yourself. Pick speeds that you can maintain, don’t hurt yourself trying to show off.