Holding onto the treadmill while walking sideways totally defeats the purpose, and this article explains why, and how walk hands-free.

Every so often I spot someone walking sideways on the treadmill and he or she is always holding on.

Holding onto the treadmill while walking sideways will sabotage your objective.

Holding on may seem like the smart thing to do, but this defeats the objective. What is the point or purpose of walking sideways on a moving tread in the first place?

It doesn’t seem to be fat loss in people who perform the movement slowly and who are not overweight.

I gather they want to improve coordination or maybe they’re just bored and want to try something funky.

Holding on while walking sideways will not improve your balance at all, nor will it promote cardiovascular fitness.

“Holding on denies the upper body of the benefits of this natural full body movement,” says Dr. Tom Carpenter, corrective exercise specialist, certified personal trainer and chiropractor, inventor of Stand Corrected™, a portable harness-like stretching tool that helps alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain.

Dr. Carpenter continues, “Going hands free while walking sideways improves posture, coordination and balance. It also promotes hip, knee and ankle strength, allowing you to be more stable, whether it’s playing sports or just performing regular daily activities.”

Furthermore, next time you see someone walking sideways on the treadmill, look at their posture.

They are always bent over, not just forward, but to the side. This is bad for the spinal column and throws gait off completely.

Tips for Walking Sideways on a Treadmill

Start out at a speed that you think is too slow. You will not stumble at only 1 mph. Turn yourself sideways and let go. This is not as hard as you think.

In fact, have you ever played basketball or tennis? You side step in these sports all the time.

A moving tread is no different. It’s easier because you are not handling a ball or racquet.

If you hold on at a faster speed, you will not accomplish anything except distorted gait.

Holding on will remove body weight, and legs and core muscles will not really be supporting you.

Let go at a slow speed and get used to it. Focus on proper posture, correct spinal alignment and square, balanced shoulders.

People who hold on have hunched up and crumpled shoulders. Their hips are out of whack. Their posture is crooked and they will never improve their balance or fitness.

Watch your feet if you fear stumbling. As you get used to 1 mph, then increase the speed to 1.5 mph.

After you get used to that, increase it to 2 mph. Don’t rush with the progression.

When you walk sideways on a treadmill, your legs and core should do all the work for maximal calorie burn (if that’s important to you), maximal neurological recruitment and maximal cardio training effect (once you start moving faster). Do not rely on the machine’s rails to do the job for you.

dr. carpenter

Photo credit: Aleesia Forni

Based upon 30+ years of experience, Dr. Carpenter’s practice approach reflects his belief that restoring optimum health and function will enable his patients to enjoy a much greater amount of vitality and wellness. Chiropractic care is true health care, not sick care!
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.