The benefits of running on a treadmill might seem clearly evident to most of us. You can run on a day when the rain won’t stop, through the winter blues, and in the convenience of your home when your schedule dictates free time.
For these reasons, many home athletes and calisthenic lovers invest in a treadmill that will suit their needs.
From space efficiency to HIIT cardio training, there are treadmills out there that tailor design to their customer’s desires.
One customer demand that is now being adequately considered is the need for shock absorption.
For those who suffer from achy joints, irritable knees, or preexisting injuries that are best not revisited, purchasing a shock-absorbent treadmill could be the difference between achieving your cardio goals or making your injuries worse.
This article covers the best treadmills on the market designed specifically with this demand in mind.
Want the cliff notes version? Here are our picks:
While there are plenty of other options that market themselves with varying designs, these treadmills share the common goal of providing a safer and more comfortable experience for their customers.
What Determines the Shock Absorbance of a Treadmill?
Without going into too much of a physics lesson regarding a treadmill belt’s friction and surface area characteristics, there are some essential things to keep in mind when looking at shock absorbency.
First of all, the overall quality of materials will significantly impact how comfortable the treadmill belt will be. Cheap rubber or quickly manufactured products will often feel great at first but wear down quickly. Ad for the design of the treadmill belt, the main options are:
Single Ply: This is where the treadmill belt itself is one single piece of rubber.
With no reinforcement, this is often a cheap way to produce a treadmill, provides minimal shock absorbance, and usually wears quickly.
As a general rule, steer clear of single-ply design.
2-Ply: This design is often preferred by gyms and commercial entities as it represents a balance between expensive maintenance and value.
With the 2-ply, the top side of the belt is often rubber (the higher quality, the better), and the bottom consists of various mono-filaments.
This system is set up for durability and comfort through shock absorbance.
3-4 Ply: Some products market a 3 or 4 ply design, and the additional layers added varies with design.
As a general rule, layers are added for shock absorbency or durability and can be an extra rubber layer or even an additional mono-filament layer.
For those who have serious injuries they need to protect, some treadmills have incredible shock absorbance added in that would suit your needs.
For most, this design brings with it an added maintenance responsibility due to high friction, more weight, and more wear on the belt.
Mode or System of Shock Absorbance
Most shock-absorbing systems are made up of elastomers underneath the belt, which compress with weight to avoid the “bounce back” of the belt’s weight.
While all systems may market viability, it is important to understand where the elastomers are placed and how many of them there are to ensure the treadmill’s maximum durability and longevity. Elastomers that are evenly placed directly under the belt might take direct impact and wear quickly.
As our personal fitness goals progress, we want to ensure our treadmill can keep up.
Treadmills with heavy-duty shock absorbance systems can often weigh more, be more stressful on the motor, and require more frequent maintenance.
Some products allow shock absorbance to be adjusted, meaning more versatility in workouts and a better way of personalizing the product.
As mentioned previously, a higher degree of shock absorbance often carries with it a compromise of weight or functionality. When considering what product to purchase, be sure to prioritize your fitness goals to find a treadmill that will suit your needs.
For customers who do not require extreme shock absorbance and want to purchase a product that won’t limit their workouts, more focus should be put on functionality (and safety) rather than just shock absorbance alone.
Anyone who lives in a confined space might need to find a balance between shock absorbance and weight and size restrictions.
The heavier the belt and the more layers provided for additional support, the bigger the treadmill will be.
For those looking for great compact options, be sure to head over to our article detailing the top compact treadmills available.
For those on a budget, be sure to check out our list of the best treadmills under $1000.
Best Shock Absorbing Treadmills of 2021
- Capacity of 440 pounds
- Tablet holder included
- Up to 14 degree incline
- Tread dimensions: 51L x 17. 75W
For those in need of serious shock absorbance, the 7700 Asuna model offers just that and more. This model carries both a shock absorption system and a soft drop system to make high-intensity training safer and more comfortable.
This model will do the trick for those who want to keep their joints happy while not sacrificing the intensity of their workout.
- 1-month of individual Interactive Personal Training by iFit included
- 20” x 55” tread belt
- Auxiliary music port and dual 2-inch speakers
- 300-pound user capacity
- Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year parts, and 1-year labor warranty
- Dimensions 54” H x 36” W x 73.5” L
NordicTrack integrates technology with convenience and constantly provides products that creatively incorporate industry-leading tech with customer-centric design. The T Series combines a versatile console, portability and convenience, and a FlexSelect cushioning system to ensure safety and comfort.
Similar to all NordicTrack models, customers who purchase this product get a one-year iFit membership that provides them with 16,000+ on-demand workouts, live interactive training, and lots of other membership options.
- Warranty: Lifetime frame motor warranty, 2 year parts, 1 year Labor warranty
- Weight capacity 300 pounds
- iFit enabled
- Tread belt: 18'' x 55''
- Speed: 0 to 10 MPH
ProForm is in the business of building products that its customers will have, forever. They aim to provide the highest quality products and well-engineered design to ensure optimum performance.
Though they carry a higher price tag, they take pride in delivering products that will not need replacement.
The 600i model takes versatility and convenience and adds in a heavy dose of comfort with their
ProShox cushioning technology. In addition to the guts being high quality, this ProForm model also comes with built in auxiliary speakers, 50 integrated workouts, and a one-year membership to iFit- the same as the NordicTrack.
With a 10% incline option and a 10 MPH maximum speed, this product does not limit those who want to take their recreational workouts to the next level while still remaining safe and comfortable.
- Ortho Flex Shock suspension system
- 22"x62" Running Deck
- 10 year parts warranty and 2 years in home labor
- Pre-programmed courses, fitness tests, 1 touch speed and elevation settings, heart rate control, and ability to create your own workouts
For anyone who wants to invest in a machine that will be sure to fit a wide variety of fitness goals as well as stand the test of time, this model has an impressive list of specs. The 3G Cardio Elite Runner is big, comfortable, and versatile.
With a 22” x 62” belt, it is one of the widest treadmills on this list. While this makes it slightly less portable, the belt’s size plus its OrthFlex suspension system and orthopedic design make it one of the most comfortable options on the market.
With such a big belt, customers might carry valid concerns about the longevity of the motor. To quell these concerns, 3G Cardio provides customers who purchase this model a lifetime motor and frame warranty, as well as a 10-year warranty on parts.
The 3G Cardio Elite Runner is a formidable machine that is sure to exceed expectations.
- Comes with proprietary Cushion Flex Whisper Deck, shown in a study to reduce impact on your joints by up to 40% compared to running on asphalt.
- 0.5-to-12 MPH speed range.
- Dimensions: 35 by 58 by 80 inches (W x H x D);
- 375-pound weight limit
For athletes looking for a treadmill that will support their high-intensity workouts without sacrificing comfort and safety, the Sole Fitness F80 was designed to balance shock absorption and speed.
With a 3.5 hp motor, this treadmill has a max speed of 12 mph and 15 incline options to suit every need. It also has a whopping 375 lb weight limit, higher than many other models on the market.
Its Cushion Flex Whisper Deck will reduce joint stress by a formidable 40%, making it one of the most powerful systems out there. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, providing confidence that this product is built to withstand wear and tear.
The Sole Fitness F80 also carries a humble price tag, making it one of the best value for money products on this list.
The Life Fitness F3 claims they have found the perfect balance between portability and convenience without sacrificing any design value. And with the FlexDeck Shock Absorption system, customers can reduce joint and knee strain by 30%.
This product is full of additional features that continue to set it apart as one of the market’s top products.
Far from the cheapest product on the list, customers will find themselves spending a bit more yet getting their value back quickly.
Finding a treadmill to suit your needs can be a bit daunting, and there are a plethora of options available for purchase.
As an athlete, if you worry about the stress put on your knees and joints when jogging or walking, purchasing a treadmill with an engineered focus on shock absorbance will ensure safety and longevity.
This list is a great place to start looking for the treadmill to provide you with versatility and comfort on varying budgets.