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Ken Margolin
Ken Margolin
Contributor •

Treadmill Injuries

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Surveys of health club owners and managers reveal that the single most dangerous piece of equipment is the treadmill. It makes sense. Treadmills are powerful machines with moving parts, that can seem to have minds of their own. While most treadmill injuries are minor, such as strains and sprains, some can and have been serious, even catastrophic. In one case, an Indiana jury awarded $9 million to a man who suffered serious spinal cord injuries after the treadmill he was on stopped abruptly, throwing him against the front of the machine (an appellate court recently reversed the verdict and ordered a new trial).

It is likely that in most treadmill injuries, the user is at least partially to blame due to inattentiveness or failure to use the machine properly. Health clubs nevertheless do have obligations to protect their users. Some causes of injury that are solely the fault of the health club are lack of proper instruction to the user, inadequate maintenance of the machine, inadequate supervision when supervision is required, for example, for a first time user of the treadmill. Health club’s standard of care may increase as the age of members increases. This would be especially true for those health clubs that advertise their catering to older customers. While treadmills cause the largest numbers of injuries in health clubs, the same principles of responsibility to members applies to all varieties of health club injuries.