With technological advancements in just about every exercise machine you can think of, shock absorption is one of the main advancements in treadmills. What exactly is it and why is it important?
Several months ago I sprained my ankle while running outdoors. It was excruciatingly painful then and I couldn’t run for a while. Now the doctor says I have healed quite well but definitely not completely. It is not painful to walk about anymore but any attempt at jogging (which was my favorite workout) still leaves me in quite a lot of pain.
The doctor suggested I try a shock absorption treadmill. She says it will allow me to continue exercising and maybe even speed up the healing. My online search left me more confused than I started. There are so many options to choose from. What exactly should I be looking out for?
Here we look at a list of the best shock absorption treadmills and give you the details on what is great and what you might not like about each of them.
- 1 The Best Shock Absorption Treadmill – Comparison Table
- 1.1 NordicTrack Commercial X32i Treadmill – Our Top Pick
- 1.2 Life Fitness F3 Treadmill
- 1.3 Sole Fitness F80 Treadmill
- 1.4 Horizon T101 Treadmill
- 1.5 What to Consider When Buying the Best Shock Absorption Treadmill
- 1.6 Size Vs Space
- 1.7 Track Size
- 1.8 Track Cushioning
- 1.9 Treadmill Motor
- 1.10 Maximum weight capacity
- 2 Conclusion
- 3 FAQs
The Best Shock Absorption Treadmill – Comparison Table
NordiTrack Commercial X32i
76.5 X 40 X 73
0 -12 mph
-6 – 40%
Life Fitness F3
78.5 X 34.5 X 58.5
0.5 – 10 mph
0.5 – 12%
Sole Fitness F80
82 X 37 X 57
0.5 – 12 mph
0 – 15%
70 X 34 X 55
0.1 – 10 mph
0 – 10%
NordicTrack Commercial X32i Treadmill – Our Top Pick
- Interactive personal training at home powered by iFit; 1 year iFit membership included with your treadmill; Gain access to on demand, interactive trainer led global and studio workout programs ($396 value)
- 10 inches HD smart touchscreen display provides immersive trainer led workouts; FlexSelect cushioning and an auto breeze workout fan deliver a comfortable run
The Norditrack commercial X32i is a premier machine with most of the bells and whistles you don’t see on basic, cheaper machines. It is designed for commercial use and is suitable for both light exercise as well as intense workouts by athletes or people training for a marathon.
- Dimensions: 76.5 X 40 X 73 inches
- Speed: 0 to 12mph
- Motor: 4.25 CHP
- Deck: 22 X 60 inches
- Max weight; 300 lbs. ( 136 kg)
- Has cooling fan and accessory tray
This treadmill has steel components where others have plastic. The back, side beams and handles are all solid. This explains its hefty weight, just over 400 pounds, and why it cannot be folded up. This one requires dedicated space. It is also heavier than average so it is best to set it in a convenient position where you can use it comfortably every time.
The running platform gives you more room than most. At 22 X 60 inches you have space to move from side to side without hitting the rails. The 4.25 CHP motor is powerful enough to run through long, intense workout sessions.
Incline ranges on this machine are unique. With a 40% incline, this is arguably the steepest on the market. Another impressive feature here is a -6% incline (or 6% decline) which is used to simulate descending a steep hill. These facilitate downhill training and gentle muscle conditioning.
Users with any kind of joint injury like this treadmill for its reflex cushioning which reduces foot impact by at least 40%. This amount of cushioning prevents injury, promotes healing from past injuries and supports smooth motion. A Reflex feature responds to individual footsteps to reduce foot fatigue. Carefully placed springs provide additional flexibility which absorbs heel impact and ensures stability.
Where speed is concerned, you cannot outrun this machine. It has belt speeds ranging from 0 to 12 miles per hour. This is useful for sprint drills or interval trainings.
Workout statistics are displayed in an impressively large 32-inch, full-color, smart HD touchscreen. From this you can follow any of the 50 training programs. If this are not enough, you will be glad to know that the machine comes with a free 1-year iFit subscription. This opens you up to a more than 16,000 workout options with some in-studio class workouts.
A Bluetooth audio input lets you play music from your phone and listen to it on the treadmill’s speakers.
- Reflex cushioning
- 32-inch color, HD display
- Incline: -6% to 40%
- Bluetooth audio input
- + 50 workout programs
- Chest strap included
- Not foldable
- Low user weight capacity for commercial machine
- Very heavy
This is a high end solid machine for fierce calorie burning and serious training. Outstanding features like a free 1-year subscription IFit subscription, reflex cushioning and a large screen make it a great option for users looking for more than just casual exercise.
Life Fitness F3 Treadmill
- Gym Equipment Dimensions: 78.5in x 34.5in x 58.5in / Weight: 264 Lbs (Console Not Included)
- Exercise Equipment Boasts Easy Storage With Its Folding Capability; Made With High Quality Parts For Durability And Also Features The Flexdeck Shock Absorption System For Comfort and Reduction Of Knee/Joint Stress By Up To 30 percent
The Life fitness F3 treadmill is one of the more superior, more expensive treadmills in the market. Its dimensions stand at 78.5 by 34.5 by 58.5 inches so you need a good amount of space to store it. It weighs 264 pounds (119.7 kg) and can take users who weigh up to 350 pounds (158.8kg).
- Dimensions: 78.5. X 34.5 X 58.5 inches
- Weight: 264 lbs. (119.7kg)
- Max weight capacity: 350 lbs. ( 158.8 Kg)
- Incline range: 0.5% – 12%
- MagnaDrive motors
One of the features which sets it apart from cheaper treadmills is the FlexDeck shock abortion system which the manufacturer says reduces about 30% of stress on knees and other joints. This helps to increase endurance and reduce the risk of injury.
How fast can you run? On this machine you have a minimum speed of half a mile per hour and a maximum of 10 miles per hour. If you have ever had to use an extremely small belted machine, you know how uncomfortable it can be to feel restricted in terms of the amount of space you have to take each step. This machine has a running surface measuring 55 by 20 inches, giving you enough room to walk or run comfortably.
Storage is easy because you can fold it up and put it away when it is not in use.
The power incline gives you a wide range to work with, from 0.5% to 12%. Most home treadmills have a standard incline of between 10% and 20%. Inclines help to improve muscle definition and increase your metabolic rate.
Another notable feature in the Life F3 treadmill is that it is energy smart. It automatically regulates the amount of power it draws depending on requirement. The motor adjusts to the current user and draws only what is required for the person’s weight.
For most people, the machine never needs to draw maximum power. If for instance, the machine is plugged in but not in use, it automatically reduces the amount of power it draws. This energy smart motor is also very quiet so you can use the treadmill in a small room such as a living room with other occupants without making too much noise.
- High quality components
- FlexDeck cushioning
- Energy smart
- No console
The Life Fitness F3 treadmill is a top rated machine. If you are looking for quality and durability you can be sure to get it from this product. All these come at an extra cost so it will definitely not fall in the same price range as other similar products in the market.
Sole Fitness F80 Treadmill
- Folding treadmill with 3.0-horsepower continuous-duty motor
- Vibrant 7.5-inch LCD display with integrated speakers and audio cable
Sole generally has a god name for high quality, durable fitness equipment. TheSole F80 treadmill lives up to this reputation. It is a strong sturdy machine which lets you walk or run atfull speed without rattling.
- Dimensions: 82 X 37 X 57 inches
- Weight: 278 lbs. ( 126 kg)
- Weight capacity: 375 lbs. (170 kg)
- Deck: 22 X 60 inches
- Speed: 0.5 -12 mph
- Incline: 0 -15%
- Motor: 3.5 CHP
- 2- ply belt with a Cushion Flex Whisper deck
- 9 – inch LCD screen with backlight
- Heart rate monitor: handle grips and chest strap
This is a relatively heavy machine, weighing 278 pounds (126kg) but has a high weight capacity of 374 pounds (170 kg).
It is a foldable cardio trainer with more than ample running space. The deck measures 22 inches by 60 inches with a 2 ply belt featuring Cushion Flex Whisper technology. This reduces impact on joints. Sole says it has capacity to absorb up to 40% or running impact.
The belt also muffles sound so the machine is not as loud as other treadmills. If you are constantly getting complaints from neighbors about loud thudding as you use your treadmill, the Sole F80 brings that to an end. The belt is run using a powerful 3.5 CHP motor and has an automated ramp with a maximum grade of 15%.
Where technology is concerned, you have conveniences such as Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to transfer your work out details from the machine to your smart phone. You can also track the same using the Sole app or other fitness apps like Apple Health or Fitbit.
There are 10 different workout programs to choose from, including hill, cardio and fat burn. Your workout statistics are displayed on a 9-inch LCD screen which has a while backlight to allow you view displays even in dim light.
There are speakers too if you would like to listen to music as you run and a headphone jack for use if you prefer not to disturb anyone in the room. The computer supports multiple users so several people in a household can keep track of their progress.
To monitor your heart rate, you can choose one of two options. There are touch sensors on the handlebars. Just grip on them and your heart rate is displayed on the screen. For users who prefer not to touch the handlebars, the machine comes with a chest strap which connects to the display wirelessly. Simply strap it on and easily monitor your heart rate throughout your workout session.
There is always something you want to keep within reach as you run. It could be your phone, tablet or a water bottle. This machine has an accessory tray for such conveniences.
- Foldable frame
- 10 workout programs
- Bluetooth compatible
- Two heart rate monitoring methods
- Very heavy
- Very short side rails
Sole is a name you cannot go wrong with. This is a quality machine with more than basic features, including a fair level of technology incorporated into it. With just about everything one would be looking for in a treadmill, it isa great choice for home use. The only downside is that it is quite heavy despite being foldable.
Horizon T101 Treadmill
- Rated a best “Value Buy” for walking by the Good Housekeeping Institute and by the Treadmill Doctor as one of the "Best Buys" in its category
- Folding treadmill with speeds up to 10 MPH, incline to 10 percent, 20 x 55-Inch running area. Assembled Dimensions: 70 x 33.5 x 55"" Folded Dimensions: 45.5 x 33.5 x 61"
Horizon is a well-known name in the industry for budget friendly equipment. The Horizon T101 is an entry-level machine ideal for walking and light or moderate workouts. This explains its 2.5 CHP motor.
- Dimensions: 70 X 34 X 55 inches
- Weight: 165 lbs. ( 74 kg)
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs. (136 kg)
- Belt: 20 X 55 inches
- Heart rate monitor on handlebars
- Power assisted incline range: 0% to 10%
- 5 CHP
- 0 to 10% power assisted incline
- Speed range: 0.1 to 10 mph
You can fold it and put it away when it is not in use and carrying it will not be too difficult because it weighs 165 pounds (74 kg). It is equipped with a FeatherLight folding lift system to allow you reclaim your space after use. Users weighing up to 300 pounds (136 kg) can comfortably use this treadmill.
The belt is fairly slim, measuring 20 inches by 55 inches but is good for its price range. Speed ranges between 0.1 miles per hour to 10 miles per hour. To give you the feel of walking or running on a slope, treadmills use inclines to enable you burn more calories. This machines has a 0% to 10% power assisted incline range, which is considered a moderate range.
To monitor your workout stats like distance, speed, time and calories burned there are three red LED display windows. For heart rate monitoring, there are in-built sensors on the handlebars. You only need to grip the bars to see your heart rate displayed on the screen.
A 3-zone variable response cushioning system helps to reduce running impact on your joints. You can choose from varying levels of cushioning depending on where you are on the treadmill. This allows for optimized shock absorption for different people or the same user at different points of recovery from an injury.
Entertainment such as music has become synonymous to treadmill use. This machine has speakers which allows you to listen to your music out loud. There is an audio jack which you ca use to connect any of your devices. Alternatively, connect to the machine via Bluetooth.
- Easily foldable
- Audio jack for music
- Variable response suspension
- 3-window red LED display
- Has a cooling fan and accessory tray
- Can’t use a chest strap
- Minimal horsepower
- Small track space
If you are new to fitness and are looking for a pocket-friendly entry-level treadmill, this is good choice. Despite its lower price, it does have many of the features you find in more expensive machines. 3-point variable cushioning on the belt is great for people with injuries though the 2.5 CHP is relatively low.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Shock Absorption Treadmill
Size Vs Space
The size of treadmill you settle on should be based on the amount of space you have to spare for it. Start by measuring the floor space of the space you intend to keep your treadmill.
Even if you are considering buying a foldable treadmill, it is still necessary to measure floor spaces on all the possible places you might be using the machine. Also make a point to measure the space you intend to use to store the machine when not in use. This ensures you have enough room to store it properly.
Track size might not seem like a consequential detail at first, but it is. If you intend to use the machine primarily for walking, you will need a smaller track. If it is for running, a larger track is necessary.
Standard track lengths for walking treadmills are 55 inches and 58 to 60 inches for running ones. Where track width is concerned, the industry standard is 20 inches although extra wide tracks are now quite common.
Choose a machine with a track size which suits our primary exercise activity.
Cushioning on tracks of treadmills are intended to reduce the chances of injuries. Reports have shown that a majority of gym accidents happen on the treadmill. Even if your injurywas not sustained on the treadmill, you could be recovering from an injury but still want to exercise on a treadmill.
There are 2 main types of cushioning systems. The first is a grommet system in which rubber grommets are placed within the belt to reduce impact on joints. The second is a suspended system. With this the entire treadmill body is suspended by its base. As you run, the suspension absorbs the pressure.
The machine’s motorpowers the track. Power is expressed in terms of continuous horsepower (CHP). This indicates the amount of power the motor can produce continuously, not just at its peak.
Home treadmills have CHPs ranging between 2.25 and 4.25. Commercial machines have higher CHPs.
Maximum weight capacity
This may not be a matter of concern if you are of average or below average weight. If however, you are heavier or bigger than average, it is a factor to think about.
A treadmill’s weight capacity is also an indication of it strength and sturdiness. Rarely would a machine with a high weight capacity be weak and unstable. When selecting a machine, choose one with a weight capacity of your weight with at least 50 pounds extra just to be on the safe side.
If you have ever suffered from a knee or other joint injury, you know it is difficult to keep in shape. Your options for exercise machines are limited and this doesn’t help the recovery process. Finding a treadmill with shock absorbing capability will help you get back in shape without causing strain to your joints and ensuring there is little chance of other injuries.
These kinds of treadmills are premium products. When you go out shopping for one, be prepared to pay a little more for the extra comfort.
How much motor power is sufficient for a home treadmill?
It depends on two things. Your weight and the type of exercise you do most often. Do you do more running than walking? If you weigh 200 pounds or less you can settle for a standard weight capacity machine.
If you are like to walk on the treadmill, a machine with 2.0 CHP or more is sufficient. If you jog often the look for a machine with 2.5 CHP or higher. Running requires as least 3.0 CHP.
Do treadmills require any maintenance?
Basic maintenance involves cleaning. Clean the deck and belt at least once a month using a damp cloth. Wipe down other parts like the handlebars weekly. The motor should be cleaned at least 3 times a year.