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Elliptical Vs. Treadmill

Hello everyone. I have a question.

I have been running on a treadmill for years. My goal is to one day run a marathon. My problem is that by the time I get in that kind of shape, I don't think my knees will last.

I have never used an elliptical. How does it match up against the treadmill and will it bring me closer or further away from my goal?

Fri. Feb 22, 3:54pm

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The thing about the elliptical is that it is easy to misuse...but if you use it correctly it is a very powerful cardio tool. Make sure you aren't leaning on the rails, try and balance yourself and only use the rails when you need to steady yourself. I found it much more difficult to push myself hard on the elliptical than the treadmill, but like you the impact makes it a more desirable machine for me. Good luck!

Friday, February 22, 2008, 4:03 PM

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I agree with the last post. The only other thing I would add is to make sure that you set the resistance high enough to challenge yourself on the elliptical. I see it every morning, there is always someone who thinks they are getting a great cardio workout just because they are going fast. Without the resistance it's really a waste of time.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 4:21 PM

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PP - I do agree that you should use resistance because you burn more calories, but if you don't add resistance, overall you're still burning calories. You'd have to do a longer workout if the resistance is low that if it's a higher resistance.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 4:43 PM

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Your are absolutely right. You are still burning calories without the resistance turned up. If it's a matter of calories, you want to burn the most calories you can in your workout to maximize you results. In this case it's being used as a training tool for a marathon. I guarantee that running on a treadmill is a better workout than just spinning the wheels on an elliptical with no resistance.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 5:03 PM

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People who run properly are much less likely to have knee problems. Knee problems result from impact when your knees are out of alignment- which many people's are.

Ellipticals have constant pressure on your knees, and more often than not, your knees are out of alignment while on them. They have no impact, but they are NOT good for your knees. And, they can be damaging to your back if your are spending an hour working out with you hips and shoulders out of alignment.

I refuse to use an elliptical. I have had knee injuries from a fall, plantar faciitis, and a sprained ankle, and I always always stick to the treadmill, no matter what. When I sold fitness equip while going to university, I had customer's who couldn't figure out why their chiro's told them not to buy ellipticals, until I explained and demonstrated everything to them.

You will rarely ever see anyone who is involved in functional fitness advocate an elliptical, because all an elliptical helps with is some fat loss. They don't make you much better at anything. And they certainly don't help you run better.

Personal opinion, the elliptical is the biggest sham going on in the fitness industry now, and a misinformed public is just lapping it up.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 5:09 PM

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If you are looking for a low impact way to effectively train for running I would recommend swimming over the elliptical. And I <3 my elliptical, so I'm not saying that lightly. I have health issues that require me to be very, very careful about impact and the elliptical is one of the few conveinient, no fuss options - just hop on and you can get a good low-impact workout. However it is a little unnatural for body movement - you have to be very vigilant about form to keep from stressing hips and knees. I am simply grateful that I have a low-impact way to do cardio and you can get a good cardio workout no doubt, but it's not that much like running.

However before that I used to run, and swimming is an excellent low-impact conditioner for running. The breathing, upper and lower body strengthening and coordination plus the cardio conditioning can't be beat. Plus you can 'run' in the pool with a float belt and get a great workout because you're pushing against the resistance of the water. Swimming definitely helped my running get to a whole different level. I don't swim often now because I don't have a pool in close proximity, but if you do, I'd definitely go for swimming over ellipital as conditioning for a marathon.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 5:58 PM

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I've also had problems with the elliptial. I have narrow hips and the feet plates on ellipticals are always too far apart for me. I can use it for about 30 minutes before my toes fall alseep and get all tingly. I'm not sure what causes that but I figure it can't be good.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 6:10 PM

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PP - same here...can't use I just walk out side going up hills...eventually down them too :)

Friday, February 22, 2008, 6:27 PM

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6:10 PM
I have back problems & my physical therapist said that my toes get tingly because of the pain in my back, it just gets that bad that it goes all the way down to my toes. They feel like pins & needles all the time.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 6:32 PM

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I agree with everything above (even the part about my feet falling asleep on the elliptical -- so weird!). I would just add for the OP that in case you haven't done so yet (but you probably have if you're a serious enough runner to consider a marathon), it's definitely worth going in to a good running store and being "fitted" for running shoes. The places I've been to, the people really know what they're doing. The first time I got the proper shoes, it made a LOT of difference on my knees because they corrected for my improper alignment. The shoes are usually priced up a bit, but you can memorize the name/look of the shoe and then order online if you want.

Friday, February 22, 2008, 8:10 PM

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