What Happens if a Treadmill Stops Suddenly – Power Outage or Broken

Treadmill Sudden Halts and Understanding Relative Velocity

Treadmills may Halt All of a Sudden

Imagine you’re running on the road at 10 Km/h or 6 M/h speed and suddenly a pole appears 1 foot ahead of you. There’s no way you can stop in time to avoid collision. That’s because your body has momentum and relative to the earth you are going at 10 kilometers per hour; the momentum would make your body slow down gradually and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to come to a complete stand-still the moment you decide to stop. You will use your body and leg muscles in the opposite direction but the pole being 1 foot away means your body will continue to surge ahead despite your efforts to stop.

A pole 1 foot away - hypothetical result

However, if you’re running with the same speed on a treadmill and the treadmill stops suddenly because it’s broken or because of a power outage, you will stop right there at that very moment. That’s because your speed with respect to the earth on the treadmill is 0 Km/h. Your brain will take a few milliseconds to identify that the treadmill belt has stopped and you may place the next step but you won’t collide with great force with the treadmill’s panel because your body’s momentum doesn’t exist in one particular direction. Yes you can have a knee injury because of the jerk though. many treadmills come with a big STOP button, pushing which the machine comes to a sudden stop – this is provided in case there is an emergency – like a piece of your clothing is stuck or if you’ve stepped at the wrong place and are about to fall.

This is why understanding relative velocity (velocity and not speed because velocity is directional) is important for treadmill users. So if you’re wondering what happens in case of a power cut or in case the treadmill breaks, don’t worry, you’ll not run into the cross-panel and hurt yourself badly. On a treadmill what really happens is that your legs are moving in running-like motion but you’re not really running, it’s more like hopping at a stationary point. Regular treadmill users must also have noticed that unless the treadmill training is done on an incline, you can cover larger distances on the treadmill as compared to actual running.

The Bus Example:

When you’re on a moving bus, your body’s velocity relative to the earth is that of the bus. That’s why you may have noticed that when you try to exit a moving bus, because of your body’s momentum, you body continues traveling in the direction of the bus. That’s why most people run in the direction of the moving bus while getting off a moving bus. Also, if you toss a ball in the air in a moving bus, you will notice that the ball lands back in your hand and the speed of the bus becomes irrelevant because the velocity of the ball thrown in the air is 0Km/h with respect to the bus. If you’re traveling in a bus at 50km/h and a car passes you by at 60km/h then the car’s “”relative velocity” is 10Km/h with the bus as a reference point.

My Gym, My City and Electricity Cuts

Whenever on the treadmill, I always worry about what would happen if the belt stops suddenly especially being in a country where power outages are normal. I hope you found this article useful. Any questions, please write a comment below.

Advertisements