Best Treadmill Shock Absorption in 2021

There’s nothing quite like being able to get in a world-class workout from the comfort of your own home rather than pounding the pavement outside, especially when the weather is less than picture-perfect.

At the same time, plenty of folks are hesitant to invest in a quality treadmill – mostly because they’ve heard that today’s treadmills can do a number on their bodies. Nobody wants to overstress or potentially injure their legs, their knees, or their ankles.

Thankfully though, modern engineering has eliminated most of the problems that used to plague older treadmills.

With built-in shock absorption technology, today’s treadmills are capable, safe, and top-notch training aids that will make you wonder why you ever even thought about running on pavement in the past.

Below we highlight some of our favorite options on the market today but also dig deeper into what you should be focused on when making this type of purchase.

Let’s get into it!

Our Picks

ProForm Performance 600i Treadmill

Easily one of the most comfortable modern treadmills to run on, the ProForm Performance 600i is a miracle of modern engineering.

For one thing, the tread belt (18” x 55”) is at the same time super compact so that the treadmill can fit in practically any space but also robust and durable enough to really take a pounding.

Built-in shock absorbing technology cushions every footfall, guaranteeing that force is evenly distributed throughout the treadmill deck and your body so that you avoid risking injury.

Combine that with the built-in iFit mobile app compatibility, a 300 pound weight capacity, and a lifetime warranty on the frame and the motor, and you’re looking at a bit of a no-brainer fitness investment here.

NordicTrack T Series Treadmill

NordicTrack has always had a sterling silver reputation in the fitness equipment industry, and for good reason.

This is a company that makes high-quality products at (relatively) affordable price points, the kinds of products that can be found in gyms and fitness centers around the world.

This particular treadmill, the T Series, is one of the best pieces of equipment they’ve ever made.

A 20” x 55” tread belt saves space but also offers a little more room for running at higher speeds. The deck itself cushions footfalls with shock absorbing technology throughout. The end result is a treadmill that feels sort of like you are running on a cloud while still allowing you to get in a high quality workout.

You also get a 30 day free trial to the Interactive Personal Training services from the folks at iFit. This is more than enough to test drive the entire experience to see if it’s right for you.

Mix in auxiliary music ports, integrated speakers, a 300 pound weight limit, and a 10 year warranty on the core components and it’s easy to see why this is such a fitness enthusiast favorite.

XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill Black

Those serious about training on a treadmill will fall in love with everything this particular platform has to offer.

Let’s start with the 16” x 50” walking/running surface. The whole thing is designed to easily transition between gentle walking, faster jogging, and full out 10 mile-per-hour sprints – all without you ever feeling like the surface is on even or unreliable.

Shock absorbing technology suspends the actual running surface itself within the treadmill mechanism. This lets the belt “ride” up and down with your footfalls, giving you a consistent feel but also lowering the amount of stress put on your body and your joints.

12 preset programs are included right out-of-the-box to help you hit the ground running (no pun intended) with this treadmill, too. You can also completely customize – and save – your own training protocols as well.

Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill

This treadmill from Sole Fitness really emphasizes shock absorbing technology.

Utilizing their proprietary Cushion Flex Whisper Deck system, every footfall on this treadmill is going to be gently cushioned to evenly distribute pressure throughout the treadmill itself without sending it back up through your body and your joints.

That shock absorption technology works so well, in fact, that it has been clinically proven to lower the impact on your joints by up to 40% (or more) compared to running on asphalt alone.

Talk about a game changing benefit!

The running deck is a little bit on the larger side of things but that just makes it more comfortable to use. It also allows for a 375 pound weight limit compared to the more “industry-standard” 300 pound limit that you’ll usually find on these treadmills.

Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill

Sunny Health always makes quality equipment and this model is no exception.

A bit on the larger side of things, lots of people find the oversized running deck (with dual shock absorbing “suspension bars”) to be more comfortable than almost any other treadmill out there. You’ll certainly have space to run or walk regardless of your posture or positioning.

Bluetooth speakers, USB charging capabilities, and an incline system that goes up to 15° round out what is already a fantastic choice. The odds are pretty good you’ll love this Sunny Health treadmill, That’s for Sure.

Horizon Fitness T101 Folding Treadmill

If space savings is a major priority when purchasing a piece of home fitness equipment this Horizon Fitness option should fit the bill quite well.

The folks at HF claim that they have found a way to engineer a perfect balance point between portability, storability, and effectiveness. They really claim to have built the Goldilocks Treadmill – and a lot of people agree!

Shock absorbers throughout the deck work to suspend the running platform, helping your feet to hit more consistently but also lowering the amount of impact on your joints in your ankles, your knees, and your hips.

The running deck itself is a little bit on the longer side of things as well. That allows for longer strides, more natural strides, and higher-speed training as well.

Bluetooth enabled and ready to integrate with most mobile fitness applications, there’s a lot to love about this Horizon Fitness treadmill for sure.

Buying Guide

Now that we’ve covered a couple of our favorite shock absorbing treadmills, it’s time to dig a little bit deeper into what you should be looking for from this kind of equipment.

These are the real “make or break” details that can determine whether or not a treadmill is a top-notch piece of equipment well worth its price tag or something to be avoided at all costs.

Outline Your Fitness Goals First

The very first thing you need to do is outline your fitness goals and how you hope to use this treadmill moving forward.

Are you looking to do a bit of casual cardio work every now and again?

Are you hoping to train for a marathon or Ironman challenge?

Are you looking to build muscle, improve cardio endurance and athletic capability, or just want to melt fat like a furnace?

All three of those things might require you to get a different type of shock absorbing treadmill. You need to be sure that the hardware you pick is in line with your expectations.

Running Surface

The running surface of the treadmill that you get is a huge piece of the puzzle.

As a general rule, you need at least 50 inches of length if you’re going to be walking on a treadmill, 55 inches if you hope to run, and 60 inches if you want to flat out sprint or are a bit taller.

You should also look for belts that are made of high quality materials, are strong and durable, but can also cushion your footfalls with built-in suspension systems.

Running Tech and Special Features

The motor that operates your treadmill is another big component you can’t afford to get wrong.

You want something powerful enough to drive your treadmill at speeds of up to 10 miles an hour (or faster) on a consistent basis without falling apart – and without making a lot of noise, too.

It’s also not a bad idea to find a treadmill that offers some sort of incline technology. This lets you vary your workouts a little bit, and in more resistance, and generally just improve the quality of the type of training you’ll be able to do with that piece of technology.

Shock Absorption Rating

You cannot afford to skimp on shock absorption with a treadmill.

We now know (pretty definitively) that all kinds of running can do real damage on our ankles, our knees, and our hips. That’s regardless of whether or not we are running on the road, running off-road, or running on a treadmill.

With proper shock absorption, though, you’ll be able to mitigate those issues quite a bit. A quality treadmill with well engineered shock absorption will allow you to run far longer (and more aggressively) without having to worry about wrecking your body along the way.

Size Considerations

The best treadmill in the world isn’t going to get a whole lot of use if you can’t find space to set it up correctly.

It’s important to match your treadmill to the kind of “real estate” you have available for this type of equipment. If you only have a small amount of space, shoot for a more compact option. If you have lots of room then you can go with more feature-rich, larger, and almost always more expensive units.

Budget

Lastly, your budget is going to play an inevitable role in the type of shock absorbing treadmill that you move forward with.

Treadmills can generally be broken down into five different budget categories:

CategoryDescription
Sub $500These treadmills are real entry-level options and (generally) aren’t worthwhile pieces of equipment to have in the first place. If your budget is under $500 right now you’d be better off saving money until you can afford a better piece of equipment.
$500-$1000These treadmills are fantastic by and large. Made by reputable companies, they usually aren’t quite as feature-rich as some of the other options out there but they are well-built and quite capable.
$1000-$1500A lot of people consider this to sort of be the “sweet spot” between premium features and price point. You’ll get a lot more bells and whistles when you jump up to this price point, that’s for sure.
$1500-$2000The difference between a $1400 and $2000 treadmill really isn’t as stark as you might think. These treadmills are always well-designed and well-built, but most of the time you be better off sticking to a slightly less expensive or slightly more expensive option.
$2000 and upThese are really well-built, purposely engineered pieces of training equipment for folks that are serious about their health, their wellness, and their athletic capabilities. They cost a pretty penny but almost all of them are well worth every bit.

FAQ

Are treadmills easier on the body than road running?

Treadmills are (by and large) a lot easier on the body than running on pavement, that’s for sure.

With the right shock absorption technology, though, the difference is really pronounced and quite dramatic. It’s not unusual to lower the impact on your joints by 40% or more with quality shock absorption in a treadmill.

Is running on a treadmill easier than running outdoors?

Running on a treadmill is certainly easier than running outdoors, if only because you have a lot more control over the running and training environment. You don’t have to worry about rain, wind, or whether and the surface is always super consistent with a treadmill.

Can I train on a treadmill to lose fat? Build muscle?

Absolutely! The beautiful thing about a quality treadmill is that it can be used to accomplish a number of different fitness goals. You just have to be sure that the equipment you’ve picked out is properly outfitted for the kind of workouts you’re hoping to tackle.

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, with so many different options available in the treadmill space right now finding the perfect one for your needs is a little more challenging than you might expect.

Use the inside information we highlighted above, though, and the process is dramatically simplified.

Our recommendations above are a great way to jumpstart the research process, too. You can’t go wrong with any of those top-of-the-line shock absorbing treadmills.

Check them out today!