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Distractions such as talking or programming the treadmill can cause falls.
In 2009 CBS News reported treadmill accidents accounted for 19,000 emergency room visits, and 2,000 of those seeking treatment were children. Ed Trainor, a fitness and treadmill expert, gives the following warning: "A treadmill requires focus and responsibility." Distractions, such as talking on your phone or watching television, cause most injuries associated with treadmill use.
When you fall or lose your balance, your natural instinct is to brace yourself. However, on a treadmill with a moving belt, this very basic move can cause severe hand injuries. Fingers and hands easily become trapped under the moving belt. Depending on the speed, the friction and heat has the potential to remove skin and flesh and even can cause serious burns. To prevent this type of injury, you should always clip yourself to a safety cord. If you fall, the cord pulls free of the treadmill, and it will immediately stop. Unfortunately, this small safety step is often ignored or overlooked.
Sticks, Stones and Now Treadmills
Treadmill falls cause broken bones. Ankle sprains and fractures result when users don't step completely on the belt. Part of the foot remains on the stationary side of the base, while the rest of the foot continues moving on the belt. This causes an unnatural twisting motion leading to injury. Even the act of losing your balance can cause wrist, arm or elbow injuries as you brace for impact with the ground or treadmill.
Often, when a treadmill user falls, he may be caught in the motion of the belt and thrown backward. Upon landing, the head may slam against the treadmill, surrounding structures or even on the ground. This type of fall is especially dangerous if the treadmill is placed near a wall, as severe head trauma can occur as a result. Though a safety tether will not prevent all injuries resulting from a fall, it can ensure the belt stops immediately.
The most tragic of injuries is loss of life, and the loss of a child is even more profound. In 2009 Exodus Tyson, the daughter of former heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson, was playing on or near a family treadmill and was caught in the safety cord, which traditionally protects riders from injuries. It is believed the young child slipped her head through the loop-style cord, and died when she fell and could not breath. Reports stated the treadmill was on at the time of her fall. Children are naturally curious and active, and special precautions need to be taken to ensure they don't have access to treadmills in the home.