Treadmill Desks and Safety – Some Worthy Precautions
Treadmill desks are extremely safe. Don’t get spooked by articles that claim thousands of people a year injure themselves by falling off a treadmill. None of those people were walking at 1 – 2 mph. They were more likely victims of a prank or they themselves unwittingly set the belt speed higher than they could sustain. We’ve yet to hear of anyone falling off a treadmill desk, much less getting seriously injured doing so.
That said, it does require some extra attention to safely mount and dismount a treadmill if the belt is in motion. Want to avoid the problem altogether? Simply don’t mount or dismount unless the belt has come to a complete stop.
We’re often asked whether the emergency stop cord is really necessary to strap to your body. Candidly most people never use these even when running, which is the only time they might, possibly, just maybe prevent some injury. It is a UL certification requirement that treadmill desks must have these cords but it is highly questionable whether they have any value at all to the treadmill desk user. We don’t want to upset our lawyers by telling you not to use it so we won’t go that far, but anyone can walk into a gym and observe for themselves how few people bother to clip the emergency stop cord to their clothing. Many people believe there is a potentially greater risk of injury from accidentally pulling the cord and having the belt stop very abruptly than there is from you getting too far away from your console to hit the STOP button or step safely off the treadmill.
The biggest safety issues for treadmill desk users are potential minor injuries (muscle aches, really) from improper ergonomic settings, insufficient stretching and pause breaks, or simply walking for too many hours at a time. To summarize the above best practices from a safety perspective:
- Stretch before and after your walking sessions, and take sufficient stretching breaks during your walking sessions to prevent muscle stiffness. A really good stretching idea is actually to take a walk around the office or around the block to change the pace and terrain a little bit. Your muscles will feel really good if you do this; you may find yourself walking like a stiff-muscled Frankenstein if you don’t.
- Drink more water than you usually do, and keep a wind tower blowing very gently across your entire body to keep you from sweating.
- Use a headset for phone calls, ideally a wireless one.
- Route all the cords and cables safely out of the path between you and your keyboard and away from the walking area.
- Avoid sudden treadmill stoppages by using an adequately rated power plug for your treadmill desk and not plugging anything else into it.
- Establish a protocol with your co-workers for how you’d prefer they get your attention while you’re on your walkabout.