What it's Like to Fall on a Treadmill

Treadmill fall

Yup. It happened.

I had seen the gifs and YouTube videos before, but I never thought I would be added to the list of dummies that fell on a treadmill!

As you may know, Matt and I have been doing the Six Weeks to Shred workout program from bodybuilding.com. What makes this program different from others is what they call "cardio acceleration." This basically means that in between your normal weight lifting sets, you complete one minute of cardio instead of resting.

Last Wednesday was shoulders and legs day. We were on our very last shoulder exercise -- dumbbell shoulder rows paired with one minute treadmill sprint.

I was totally in the zone.

I finished my first set of rows (with 35lb dumbbells, may I add) and then cranked the tread up to level 8. Too impatient (and in the zone) to wait for the treadmill to come to a stop, I pressed the stop button, lifted myself up off the tread by pressing up on the handrails, and stepped off to the side.

I muscled out another set of rows -- this set was particularly difficult, but I was in hoss mode, so I wasn't going to let the difficulty get in my way.

I put down the weights and lifted my right foot to step back onto the treadmill for my cardio acceleration.


My foot flew out from under me, and before I could really understand what was happening, I was on the ground.

You could hear and feel the change in the room. Everyone gasped and ran over to where I was. Matt (and our workout buddy, Andrew) were off their treadmills and looking over me. The trainers and gym employees all looked very concerned. They had rushed over to see what happened.

"Are you okay??"

I was so embarrassed. I wanted to pretend it didn't happen. I mean... I'm tough. I looked at my body and assessed the situation: treamill burns on my right calf and right shoulder. Not too bad.

I stood up and replied, "Yeah, I'm fine. Let's just get back to it."

An older man walked up and tried to comfort me by saying, "It's okay. I fall all the time. Just make sure you take some advil tonight. It's gonna hurt tomorrow."

I chuckled a bit, trying to pretend that it didn't hurt a lot, and bent over to pick up my 35s. Ouch! I couldn't wrap my right hand around the dumbbell. I could barely bend my fingers at all. At that moment, I remembered that I had landed on the floor in a position where my fingers were bent way back.

"Actually," I said to a trainer, "I could probably use some ice for my hand."

He and Matt walked with me to the office where they brought me ice. The trainer asked me if I wanted him to clean up my burns.


As I sat in someone's office chair, he cleaned my leg with the stinging razor of pain that is an alcohol swab. Then he wrapped it with a bandage. The whole time, I was just laughing. I still couldn't believe that actually happened. I apologized to the trainer for the inconvenience that I had created. He didn't mind.

He moved on to cleaning my shoulder -- Holy moly -- that hurt SO much. I tried to mask the pain with jokes.

"So... are you guys going to watch the security video later and laugh about it? Because you probably should. I bet it looked pretty ridiculous."

All of the sudden, my ears started ringing, my fingers started tingling, and my vision was starting to fade. It was coming fast!

---- Side note: my dad, my brother, and I all have vasovagal syncope triggers. Usually these episodes happen in situations surround blood, gore, hospitals, shots, etc. Basically, we pass out relatively often when exposed to these triggers. ---

"I think I need to be on the ground," I said.

Matt, knowing my family, understood what this meant. By the time he took a couple steps over to hold onto me, I was unconscious.

He later told me that I was out for a solid 20 seconds. And even when I woke back up, it took me awhile to become fully conscious.

I woke in the chair. I could feel my head shaking when my awareness came back. The trainers looked really scared -- they had never seen something like this before.

Matt and I assured them that I was fine and that this was relatively normal. I asked them to bring me a soda and another ice pack for my neck.

I felt much better at this point. Matt filled out some papers for me, assuring that I wouldn't sue the gym for my own dumb mistake, and we snuck out the back staircase because I was too embarrassed to go back into the main gym.

The next day, I felt like I had fallen down the stairs or gotten hit by a truck or something. Everything ached. My neck and my back were sore from the impact and my shoulder hurt deeply -- like to the bone.

For the first two days, I thought my hand/fingers might be broken, but they're okay. I'm going to try to go to the gym tomorrow. That'll be my first time back.

Moral of the story: LOOK before you step onto a treadmill.


Bonus: When we got home after my fall, I asked Matt to watch this YouTube compilation of treadmill falls to show me what mine looked like. Apparently, my fall resembled the guy at minute 3:33.