The short answer: it depends!
In terms of stride length and mechanics, there isn’t much difference between the two, but when it comes to your potential for injury, there is.
Most running injuries are called “overload” injuries because they happen when you repeat the same movement over and over. When you run on a treadmill, there is no variation in your running style. You don’t have any pavements to jump up on to, or any tree stumps to avoid. That means you use the same muscles with each stride and increase your risk of getting injured. So although you might not enjoy dodging potholes, they are actually doing you a favour!
Running on a treadmill can sometimes feel easier than running in the great outdoors. That’s because you don’t need to push through any wind resistance on the treadmill. To even things out, set the incline on the treadmill for 1% (or 2% if you’re feeling brave). This mimics the increased energy that you would use fighting the wind. Problem solved!
Of course there are pro’s and cons to both options. Treadmill running is safe and time efficient, but can get quite boring. Running outdoors is more challenging but not all that pleasant in the pouring rain! Ultimately, both options are preferable than sitting and reading an article about which is better! If treadmill running is your only option, or simply your preference, then go for it! Remember, the best exercise is the one that you will actually do!
Written by Karen Heath