If you are a frequent user of the treadmill, it is most likely that you have received a shock from it once or repeatedly. Treadmills are powerful machines capable of generating static electricity. This static electricity is responsible for the shocks and, even though they won’t hurt you, they may damage the treadmill’s electric components.
Most cases we receive regarding static electricity on treadmills are in the winter season. But the good news is, you can easily overcome static build-up on the treadmill to reduce the risk of being shocked and have a comfortable workout session. Here are some of the sources responsible for static problems and their suggested solutions.
- Problems that the gyms have control over;
- Worn out motor brushes, belt and deck. If any of these parts on the treadmill are worn out, replace them. A motor brush should be replaced if it has cracks, nicks, signs of wire wearing through, or if it’s less than a ½ inch length. Determining whether your treadmill’s walking/running belt is worn out can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Common signs that the belt requires maintenance or replacement include discoloration, fraying edges, sluggish belt movement, and loosening. Check your treadmill deck for signs of wear or cracks and have it replaced. If the problem seems complex or severe, always consult a professional to have the machine professionally serviced. Replace belt and deck together.
- Lubrication maintenance. Lack of, or poor, lubrication maintenance of the treadmill can result in excessive friction created by the repetitive motion. This friction creates static electricity leading to shocks. However, with proper lubrication on the belt, deck, as well as all the moving parts of the treadmill, this static electricity can be controlled. Loosen the belt. Then lift it up to apply the lubricant on the deck as per the instructions on the bottle. Always refer to the owner’s manual for the type of lubricant recommended by a manufacturer. Place the belt back to its position and re-tighten the screws. Turn the treadmill on and allow it to run for 5 minutes at a low speed. This allows the lubricant to evenly penetrate into the moving belt.
- Lack of Humidity in the air. Dry air in the workout area leads to a bigger risk of static shock. And that is why you are most likely to feel the slight sting of static when working out indoors or in areas with dry climates. This is because indoors, air conditioners and heaters suck out all the moisture in the air leaving it dry. Therefore, the only way to banish static shock is by placing a humidifier in the room to bump up humidity levels. A humidity level of 40 to 60 is recommended.
- Dusty Climate. Dry and dusty environments amplify the presence and intensity of static electricity on treadmills. Treadmills that are not cleaned regularly experience dirt buildup and increase your chances of being shocked. To prevent this, add a weekly cleaning routine to your workout and this will not only prevent static buildup but also increase the lifetime of your machine. The clean-up is simple. Just remove any accumulated dust from the belt using an anti-static duster. Dust around and beneath the treadmill to avoid any buildup. Then wipe down the belt with a slightly dampened cloth and dry with a paper towel. Ensure that you rotate the belt to reach the entire tread surface effectively.
- Bad Ground. Failing to plug your treadmill into a grounded, dedicated outlet can also increase the risk of static shocks. Check the ground where the machine is placed to see that the power cord, power outlet and drive motor are fine. However, the metal and electrical systems of the machine may be well grounded, but the rubber tread is a good insulator and therefore the static charge may build up because the tread itself is not grounded. Another common grounding problem would be in relation to motors. If you experience static shocks, consider adding an additional ground wire to the motor of your treadmill.
- Treadmill placed on carpet. A treadmill placed directly on carpet is more vulnerable to static electricity. Static electricity could build up as you get on and off the treadmill. A great solution to this problem would be to install a rubber treadmill mat under the machine. This mat will not only protect your treadmill, but also the carpet under the unit from scratches and dents by the unit’s feet.
- Items that the gyms have no control over;
- Dehydration of the user. If a user works out a lot and gets dehydrated, their skin dries and this poses a chance for static energy to build up. Dry skin increases the friction generated between the user and the machine when running or holding onto the treadmill rails. Encourage users to take in more water to avoid dehydration.
- Dry skin of the user. Encourage the users to use an adequate amount of lotion when coming for a treadmill workout. Lotion softens the skin and acts a lubricant when they are holding on to the treadmill surfaces. It reduces friction and thus lowers the risk of static electricity buildup. Ask the users to combine this strategy with higher water intake so as to keep their skin hydrated.
- Use of wool or synthetic materials when working out. Materials such as nylon, polyester and spandex are more susceptible to static build up. Synthetic fabrics build up more static charge than clothing made from natural fibers. So, if a user complaining of shocks has been working out with such gear, ask them to change. Recommend to them clothing made of cotton or any other natural fibers.
- Run pattern of the user. The running pattern of a treadmill user can contribute to static buildup. If a user is shuffling their feet instead of having a smooth stride, they are likely to generate excessive friction which results in the creation of static electricity. They are most likely to get shocked. If you notice such, advice the user to change their running pattern to smooth strides.
- Shoes. Advise the user to always check their shoes before hopping onto the treadmill for a run. Tell them to clean the bottom of their shoes to remove any dirt, dust and other items they may have collected on their way to the gym. Such materials create more surface area for friction to buildup and give you some static shocks. Also encourage the users to wear good fitting shoes. Old shoes may be too worn out and hence cause friction buildup. Users should also avoid shoes without nylon mesh.
If all else fails, consider using an anti-static spray that you can apply to your clothes and the treadmill’s running belt. The spray moistens the area and hence helps to diffuse static shock. It also makes the surface area less conducive for electrical charge build-up.