Mechanical properties of treadmill surfaces compared to other overground sport surfaces

Enrique Colino, Jose Luis Felipe, Bas Van Hooren, Leonor Gallardo, Kenneth Meijer, Alejandro Lucia, Jorge Lopez-Fernandez, Jorge Garcia-Unanue

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    15 Citations (Scopus)
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    The mechanical properties of the surfaces used for exercising can affect sports performance and injury risk. However, the mechanical properties of treadmill surfaces remain largely unknown. The aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the shock absorption (SA), vertical deformation (VD) and energy restitution (ER) of different treadmill models and to compare them with those of other sport surfaces. A total of 77 treadmills, 30 artificial turf pitches and 30 athletics tracks were assessed using an advanced artificial athlete device. Differences in the mechanical properties between the surfaces and treadmill models were evaluated using a repeated-measures ANOVA. The treadmills were found to exhibit the highest SA of all the surfaces (64.2 ± 2; p < 0.01; effect size (ES) = 0.96), while their VD (7.6 ± 1.3; p < 0.01; ES = 0.87) and ER (45 ± 11; p < 0.01; ES = 0.51) were between the VDs of the artificial turf and track. The SA (p < 0.01; ES = 0.69), VD (p < 0.01; ES = 0.90) and ER (p < 0.01; ES = 0.89) were also shown to differ between treadmill models. The differences between the treadmills commonly used in fitness centers were much lower than differences between the treadmills and track surfaces, but they were sometimes larger than the differences with artificial turf. The treadmills used in clinical practice and research were shown to exhibit widely varying mechanical properties. The results of this study demonstrate that the mechanical properties (SA, VD and ER) of treadmill surfaces differ significantly from those of overground sport surfaces such as artificial turf and athletics track surfaces but also asphalt or concrete. These different mechanical properties of treadmills may affect treadmill running performance, injury risk and the generalizability of research performed on treadmills to overground locomotion.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3822
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalSensors (Switzerland)
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


    Enrique Colino acknowledges the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport for funding the development of his PhD (grant number: FPU15/04700). Bas Van Hooren was funded by a Eurostars grant. Jorge Garcia-Unanue acknowledges “Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional, Programa Operativo de la Región de Castilla-La Mancha” (2018/11744) for funding the development of his research. All authors thank the fitness centers, research laboratories and other institutions that granted permission to test their treadmills.


    • Biomechanics
    • Energy restitution
    • Injury risk
    • Performance
    • Running
    • Shock absorption
    • Sport surfaces
    • Vertical deformation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Analytical Chemistry
    • Biochemistry
    • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
    • Instrumentation
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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