Just because the rails are there doesn’t mean you should hold onto the treadmill when walking.
Holding on defeats the purpose and will prevent you from reaching your fitness or weight loss goals.
So why, then, are the rails there in the first place? There are several reasons.
Liability. Every modern society is very litigious.
The manufacturer wants to protect itself from liability should someone fall off a treadmill.
Imagine if there were no rails, and a user fell and got injured. He decides to sue the manufacturer.
The company would have little defense. Their defense attorney would not be able to say, “The treadmill had rails; the plaintiff chose not to hold on; therefore we are not at fault for his injuries.”
But if there are no rails, what defense does the manufacturer have? Thus, we have the first reason all treadmills have side rails.
Other Reasons Treadmills Have Side Rails
The rails should be there, even though you shouldn’t use them for sustained support. But what about transient support?
If you need to sip water, you should hold onto a rail. If you’re turning around while still using the machine, you should put a hand on the rail to keep steady.
Sometimes, after a blistering though brief sprint on the machine, you get so breathless that after you return the speed to a recovery pace, you just have to hold onto the side rails for several breaths—but then you let go.
The side rails are there, then, for those moments where you may lose your balance.
But to keep your hands on them for sustained support? This will sabotage your goals.
Another reason treadmills have side rails is because this makes the product look complete to the potential buyer.
The manufacturer knows that many potential buyers might be the type of people who’ll grip the rails and never let go. This is a huge demographic.
If they see a treadmill at the store or online with no rails, they will hunt elsewhere for their purchase.
So those are the reasons a treadmill has side rails. But remember this: Just because the rails are there does not mean that using them in a prolonged way is the best way to achieve your fitness or weight loss goals.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.