Ataxia UK
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Advice on treadmill

I am thinking of getting a treadmill to use at home. I have never used one and my balance is pretty shaky so I don't know how safe they are to use. Are there any safety features that would make using a treadmill safer for someone with ataxia?

Somebody recently mentioned using a treadmill with a safety harness but this would be far too expensive to have at home. However, for anyone that's interested, I have found a couple of treadmills that have side rails for extra safety (see links below). The problem is that they are much more expensive than standard treadmills.

bodysolid.co.uk/Rehabilitat...

executiveleisureandfitness....

executiveleisureandfitness....

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I use a treadmill at my local gym, 10 minutes at 5km per hour. Before purchasing one I would recommend trying one at a gym - in England you can be referred to a gym by your GP so you can 'suck it and see' for about 6 weeks.

Their treadmills have very solid side supports which I have to hold on to, though if I ever have to let go I have to stop the machine. You can adjust the speed to your own preferences/needs.

You may find that the monthly membership of the gym (in my case £29) will be a better investment than buying a treadmill and you can use several other things at no extra cost. eg Swiss Ball exercises. I spend a total of 30 minutes there 4 times a week.

Good luck. Derek.

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I have used a treadmill with the physiotherapist standing next to me. I think max I managed was 5 minutes. I had hand rails and an attachment that when it is tugged the machine goes off. I find it very difficult as your steps need to be pretty even. I gait and wobble when I walk. I strongly agree with the advice to go and try one at the gym first. I do think that they're very good for us. But safety needs to be thought about.

I have only ever used it on my really good days, most days it would be unthinkable for me. But we're all different.

let us know how you get on

Alison x

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Have you tried taking short, baby steps and moving from one flat foot to another?

Last year I worked with Dr Tom Clouse, who has ataxia himself. He teaches you techniques for feeling more stable and confident in your movements. If you start by taking short baby steps it helps you to keep your stride length even. Also, to feel more stable and grounded, move from one flat foot to another and make sure that with each step you come down with a reasonable amount of force-tentative steps are no good as they won't make you feel stable. The idea is that once you feel comfortable walking this way, then you can start to lengthen your strides and flex each foot with each step. I don't know if this will work on a treadmill as I haven't used one yet but I use these techniques when I use my walker and it definitely helps.

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thanks very much. I'll give it a try. Wow you're so lucky to have met Dr Tom Clouse and worked with him. I've watched his site xx

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I'm 87 with Sensory Ataxia for the last 10 years. A couple of years ago a Neuro Physio wanted to see what I did at the Gym - she took me off of the treadmill pronto - she said the Ataxia in the brain did not like it ( I did not get on very well with it), and said instead walk on the carpet tiles flat surface of the gym instead, which I do for about 15 mins, much , much better - I stand as upright as I can and swing my arms as much as I can. Hope this helps you. Cheers.

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🙂 I have a treadmill at home. Mine, and most others, have a magnet/cord you attach to the treadmill before you start. This can be clipped to your clothing, it immediately breaks connection and stops the treadmill in case of an emergency.

It is a major investment, make sure you try one out regularly before committing to a purchase 🙂 xBeryl

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Thanks for your reply. I am quite keen on getting a treadmill to use at home. One thing I've noticed though from looking at pictures is that the ones for home use seem flimsier than the ones they have in the gym. Do you find that the one you use at home is sturdy/stable enough?

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Sorry, wobblybee, another question. How can you actually try one out before buying? Obviously you can try one out at the gym but that won't be the one you end up buying for home use.

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Mine is very sturdy/heavy ( Horizon) and is used on a tiled floor. There is no way it could be accidentally tipped if I fell. As with most other things it’s personal preference, I tried some out at a Specialist supplier before buying. Prior to that, I had experience of using a treadmill at a local gym, so I knew any type I bought would need to be sturdy or I wouldn’t have felt confident in using it. One thing to bear in mind. As Piero has mentioned, it’s likely you’d be unsteady stepping down from the treadmill, so take that into consideration if you favour a lightweight model 🙂 xB

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Weekly I use council gym as "GP recommendation" at a subsidised rate. Free annual membership. Treadmill is really sturdy and heavy, has kill switch tether. Also static cycle can go slow enough. Use other apparatus whilst there. Member of staff helps.

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Greetings Conan. Like others who have responded to your question I attend at a gym most weeks, usually twice. I use a treadmill when there pretty much every time I visit. I was diagnosed with late onset ataxia around eight years ago so by now its progressed to a point where I'm very unsteady. I've never found the treadmill to pose much of a problem however. As another responder said, there's usually a safety line you can clip on to your clothing so that if you do go down the machine will stop. I do need however to take extra care dismounting, you have to step down a few inches after the belt stops and if you've had a reasonable time on the machine its possible you like me will be particularly unsteady at that point.

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Thanks to everyone for replying. I have found your comments extremely useful. I have also noticed that you can hire treadmills reasonably cheaply, so that's another option to consider.

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I invested some £6.00 at Go Outdoors and bought some cheap Nordic poles. They helped me to lengthen my gait and widen my stride. This means I can go outside and walk with all the extra health benefits, petrol fumes, other people, etc! But seriously they have helped me retrain my muscles and helped to keep me strong. While ataxia inexorably leads to deterioration it can be slowed considerably by keeping strong and finding as much as possible to make you laugh.

I reecently purchased a static exercise bike, much cheaper than a treadmill, and I use it if my iphone app tells me I've walked less than 2 miles in a day. I can watch telly at the same time.

I feel I should spend more time thinking about ataxia, but actually I'm much too busy living.

Nigel H. (68 going on 43).

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It turns out the term "Ataxia" means WAY too much and is used too liberally. I read your old posts and I see you have been dealing with "Ataxia" since 1997. What form of Ataxia do you have?

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late-onset Friedrichs.I first symptomsnoticed at 31

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I use one it has rails I hold onto you can clip on a chip to your top and the machine will turn off. I just hit the stop bottom to stop the machine I love it. Go 4 it

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Thanks. I have been hiring one for the last 2 months and have found it useful

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