Women's Health (South Africa) - - WH RUN! SPECIAL -

There’s a new tool in the gym and it’s wait­ing to turn you into a bet­ter run­ner. Meet the SKILLMILL. It’s like a tread­mill, but not quite. The main dif­fer­ence is that it doesn’t have a mo­tor con­trol­ling the belt – it’s all you, baby. Like a ham­ster con­trol­ling its wheel, your run­ning ac­tion makes the belt move – faster when you run faster and slower when you slow down. If your gym has a SKILLMILL (at Vir­gin Ac­tive, look for it in the HEAT stu­dio), here are three rea­sons to hop on... 1 It’s great for the peaches.

That ac­tion of pro­pel­ling your­self for­ward on the belt re­cruits more mus­cles dur­ing your run – es­pe­cially the mus­cles in your butt and the backs of your thighs, says Ceri Han­nan, na­tional prod­uct de­vel­op­ment manager at Vir­gin Ac­tive SA. “You can re­cruit mus­cles typ­i­cally ne­glected on a tra­di­tional tread­mill. The pos­te­rior chain – that in­cludes your glutes, ham­strings and lower back – gets a ma­jor makeover!” And be­cause this is more sim­i­lar to run­ning out­side, it’s bet­ter prep for race day.

2 Your form will be bet­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to gait and pos­ture re­ports, most peo­ple tend to run with a heel-to-toe foot strike, but ex­perts be­lieve that the sheer force of strik­ing the ground heel-first can be jar­ring to your whole skele­ton and may ul­ti­mately lead to in­jury. “The SKILLMILL’s curved sur­face sup­ports a more widely en­cour­aged form of run­ning – short, quick strides where the fore­foot hits the ground first to cush­ion the im­pact,” says Han­nan. “As you pick up the pace, you’ll find it im­pos­si­ble to heel­strike.” The curved sur­face also en­gages your core more, forc­ing you to main­tain proper pos­ture in or­der to keep your bal­ance.

3 You’ll run more mind­fully.

“Un­like with a tread­mill, the ma­chine can’t hold a man­u­ally se­lected pace – ba­si­cally there’s no cruise-con­trol op­tion,” says Han­nan. The re­sult: you’re much more aware of your speed and bal­ance and what you’re do­ing to con­trol them. So in­stead of just switch­ing off your brain un­til “you’ve reached the max­i­mum time al­lowed”, you can con­cen­trate on mak­ing lit­tle ad­just­ments to your run and fo­cus on how they feel in your body.

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