Reviews Gym Equipment Treadmills

5 Best Treadmills for Shock Absorption in 2024

Running has become extremely popular in the fitness community with its well-known health benefits. Even healthy habits have possible drawbacks, with joint pain being a commonly reported issue, with repeated impact on a hard running surface being one of the main causes.

Shock absorption provides one way to reduce the impact level and combat common joint pain. I’ve methodically reviewed the best treadmill for shock absorption, looking at the factors I think are the most important. I’ve compared my top pick to four other choices to help you choose the right treadmill for you.

5 Best Treadmills for Shock Absorption in 2023

Top 5 Best Treadmills for Shock Absorption Reviewed

  1. NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill – Top Pick
  2. XTERRA Fitness TR Treadmill – Runner-up
  3. ProForm City L6 Treadmill – Budget Pick
  4. Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill – Best Folding
  5. Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill
TreadmillTotalMonitor FunctionalityPortabilityVersatilityComfortPrice/ Quality
NordicTrack49.5109.5101010
XTERRA479.59.59.59.59
ProForm46.59.59.59.599
Sunny Health & Fitness4591098.58.5
Horizon Fitness44.59.58.59.598
TOP PICK

1. NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill

NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill- Top Pick
  • Speed Range: 0-10 mph
  • Max Incline: 10%
  • Folding: Yes
  • Weight Limit: 300 lbs
  • Item Weight: 203 lbs
  • Product Dimensions: 73.5″ L x 36″ W x 54″ H
  • Display: LCD
  • Running Surface: 50″ L x 25″ W
  • Warranty: 10 Year Frame Warranty, 2 Year Parts Warranty, 1 Year Labor Warranty
  • Workout Programs: Live and On-demand Classes, Trainer-led Workouts, 1 Pre-programed Class
  • Additional Features: Auto Incline, FlexSelect Cushioning, Auxiliary Music Port, Dual Speakers

NordicTrack was one of the first companies to produce space-saving foldable treadmills, leading the way for many other companies to make their own. The company focuses on producing high-quality, innovative products that include treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, and weight benches.

Coming top of my list is the T-series 6.5 S Treadmill from NordicTrack, a well-established cardio equipment brand. It’s a no-thrills home treadmill that does the basics well, allowing you to achieve your workout goals. The T 6.5 S is the entry-level model from NordicTrack but pulls no punches compared to its more expensive counterparts.

NordicTrack has used its patented FlexSelect cushioning under the treadmill to provide excellent shock absorption when running. It uses spongy orange dampeners under the running desk to reduce the impact force, protecting your joints from damage and injury. What stands out about this treadmill is its ability to turn the cushioning on and off by twisting the cushion knob on the frame.

Another stand-out feature of the T series 6.5 S is the LCD touchscreen functionality. With the 30-day IFit membership included, you’re able to choose from a host of live and on-demand classes or trainer-led workouts.

On either side of the screen, the OneTouch controls allow you to change the speed from 0 to 10 mph and the incline up to 10%. This gives you a quick way to navigate from the console during your workout.

The treadmill measures 73.5″ L x 36″ W x 54″ H and weighs 203 pounds with a big max user weight of 300 pounds. The space-saving design allows the treadmill to fold up to 73″ in the vertical position with the hydraulic easy-lift assist function gently lowering it back to the floor.

The treadmill includes side safety rails, integrated speakers, and a tablet shelf if you want to watch a movie or popular workout on your phone.

If you’re looking for a good entry-level treadmill from a proven brand, go with the NordicTrack T series. It has a changeable shock absorption system and a hydraulic lift mechanism. It’s my best shock absorption treadmill out of my five choices.

49.5 EXPERT SCORE

If you’re looking for a good entry-level treadmill from a proven brand, go with the NordicTrack T series. It has a changeable shock absorption system and a hydraulic lift mechanism.


Monitor Functionality:0
Portability:0
Versatility:0
Comfort:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • The FlexSelect cushioning can be turned on and off by twisting the dial on the treadmill frame
  • The OneTouch controls at either side of the LCD screen allow you to change the speed and incline quickly
  • The hydraulic easy lift system allows you to safely fold and unfold the treadmill in a controlled manner

Could be better:

  • No touchscreen functionality on the LCD screen
RUNNER-UP

2. XTERRA Fitness TR Folding Treadmill

XTERRA Fitness TR Folding Treadmill - Runner-up
  • Speed Range: 0-10 mph
  • Folding: Yes
  • Weight Limit: 250 lbs
  • Item Weight: 97 lbs
  • Product Dimensions: 63.4" L x 28.75" W x 51.4" H
  • Display: 5" LCD
  • Running Surface: 50" L x 16" W Belt
  • Warranty: Lifetime Frame, 1 Year Motor, 90 Days Deck, 90 Days Labor
  • Workout Programs: 12 Present Workouts
  • Additional Features: XTRASoft Cushioning Technology, Integrated Book Rack and Water Bottle Holders

XTERRA Fitness is one of the leading manufacturers of cardio equipment and accessories. They focus on making fitness accessible for everyone by producing affordable cardio equipment featuring innovative designs including treadmills, exercise bikes, and ellipticals.

In my runner-up position is the XTERRA Fitness TR Treadmill, another entry-level home treadmill that comes at a great price. At first glance, the TR treadmill is quite simple looking but don't let this fool you. It offers some excellent added features that I’ll go into more detail about below.

XTERRA has designed the TR treadmill with its XTRASoft cushioned deck technology that provides great impact absorption when running. The running deck measures 50" L x 16" W which provides ample room for most users.

The compact treadmill frame measures 63.4" L x 28.75" W x 51.4" H and can support a max user weight of up to 250 lbs which is the average for most treadmills in the same price range. A 2.25 HP motor powers the treadmill, allowing you to go from 0 to10 mph, with 3 levels of incline to choose from.

The TR 150 has been designed with comfort in mind, with conveniently placed pulse sensors on the safety handrails. The front of the treadmill features a space for book storage and a handy water bottle holder allowing you to keep hydrated when exercising.

At the front, the LCD display screen displays time, speed, distance, and calories burned. On either side, you have 12 pre-set workout programs to choose from numbered P1-P12. The emergency stop button is a good safety feature that should be included as standard in any treadmill model.

The TR 150 folds up and down using the easy-pull knob at the side of the treadmill frame. One thing for XTERRA to improve on would be the lack of a hydraulic system helping the treadmill to move up and down. Care needs to be taken to limit the chance of it hitting the floor or folding up too quickly.

Overall, it’s a great shock-absorbing treadmill choice with some nice added convenience features such as the book space and water bottle holder.

47 EXPERT SCORE

Overall, it’s a great shock-absorbing treadmill choice with some nice added convenience features such as the book space and water bottle holder.


Monitor Functionality:0
Portability:0
Taste/Flavor:0
Versatility:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • The lifetime frame warranty gives you peace of mind that you’ll get a new one if any problems happen
  • The water bottle holder and book space add some convenience to the workout experience
  • The 96-pound lightweight frame is easy to move around when folded up

Could be better:

  • There is no hydraulic safety system for folding the treadmill up and down

3. ProForm City L6 Folding Treadmill

ProForm City L6 Folding Treadmill
  • Speed Range: 0-8 mph
  • Max Incline: N/A
  • Folding: Yes
  • Weight Limit: 250 lbs
  • Item Weight: 125 lbs
  • Product Dimensions: 70.25" L x 29" W x 44.5" H
  • Display: LCD
  • Running Surface: 17.5" x 45"
  • Warranty: 10 Year Frame, 1 Year Parts and Labor
  • Workout Programs: 30 Day IFit Trial (Interactive Workouts and Livestreams)
  • Additional Features: ProShox Cushioning, Built-in Tablet Holder

ProForm believes that fitness should revolve around life, not the other way around. The brand wants you to get the most out of life by living life to the fullest. They aim to provide a complete at-home cardio experience by producing interactive, high-quality cardio equipment.

The L6 Treadmill is from ProForm’s compact cardio equipment range, offering excellent value for money as an entry-level model that’s well-reviewed online.

Rather than folding like a normal treadmill, the L6 uses an innovative folding system by folding in on itself. The U-shaped upper portion folds down to the back of the treadmill deck by pressing the folding knob at the side of the front screen. Once folded, the built-in transport wheels allow you to roll the treadmill under a desk or into a larger cupboard space.

ProForm has included a free 30-Day iFIT membership which uses integrated BlueTooth technology to provide on-demand trainer feedback via the app. Once installed, you’re able to choose from thousands of live and Internet-demand trainer-led workouts. The elite iFIT trainers can auto-adjust your speed, incline, decline, and resistance level, giving you feedback and guidance as you exercise.

ProForm uses its patented ProShox cushioning under the deck to provide excellent shock absorption when running. This limits the incidence of joint pain and other related injuries such as knee and ankle problems commonly experienced when running regularly.

Constructed from alloy steel, the L6 can support a max user weight of up to 250 lbs which should be enough to accommodate most athletes. The frame measures 70.25" L x 29" W x 44.5" H with a 47" L x 18" W tread belt, offering plenty of room to exercise.

At the front of the L6, the 5" LCD display tracks distance covered, speed, time, and calories burned. At the side of the console, the quick speed controls allow you to adjust the treadmill speed from 0 to 8 mph, with an emergency button located just underneath.

The ProForm City L6 treadmill has a convenient folding system allowing you to store it under objects compared to the more traditional storage methods used by other brands. The iFIT app features offer great on-demand workout feedback from world-leading trainers making this a great option if you prefer guidance during your run.

46.5 EXPERT SCORE

The ProForm City L6 treadmill has a convenient folding system allowing you to store it under objects compared to the more traditional storage methods used by other brands.


Monitor Functionality:0
Portability:0
Versatility:0
Comfort:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • The BlueTooth iFIT app technology allows an elite trainer to change your speed, incline, and resistance level when exercising
  • The U-shaped frame folds back, allowing the treadmill to be wheeled under a desk or table
  • The L6 motor cools itself when running to stop it from overheating

Could be better:

  • There are no side rails to provide added safety when running
BUDGET PICK

4. Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill - Budget Pick
  • Speed Range: 0-5 mph
  • Max Incline: 9.98%
  • Folding: Yes
  • Weight Limit: 220 lbs
  • Item Weight: 70.5 lbs
  • Product Dimensions: 49.6" L x 26.5" W x 47" H
  • Display: LCD
  • Running Surface: 39" L x 14" W
  • Warranty: 3 Year Structural Fram, 180 Parts and Components
  • Workout Programs: None
  • Additional Features: Tablet Holder, Shock Absorption Deck, Emergency Stop Clip, Transportation Wheels

Sunny Health & Fitness wants to provide a high-quality workout experience to anyone who wants it. They believe a healthy lifestyle should be accessible to everybody at home or in the gym. Their cardio equipment is available to people regardless of their ability level, budget, and free time.

If you’re looking for a lightweight and compact shock absorbing treadmill that folds away easily, the SF-T7610 from Sunny Health & Fitness is a perfect choice. It's the smallest out of my top five choices, measuring 49.6" L x 26.5" W x 47" H, and also the lightest at 70.5 pounds. Despite this lightweight design, it can support a max user weight of 220 lbs.

When folded away the treadmill measures 21" L x 26.5" W x 51" H, giving you plenty of storage options if you need the extra gym space when you're not using it. To fold it away, twist the folding knob and pull the treadmill upwards. Once it clicks into place, wheel the treadmill to wherever you need it with the handy transport wheels at the bottom.

The 39" L x 14" W running deck is on the smaller end but shouldn't be an issue for general exercise unless you're over 6 ft. The 1.25 horsepower motor goes from 0 to 5 mph, with incline settings up to 10%. Under the deck, Sunny Health & Fitness has used a shock absorption system to reduce the running impact and improve your overall workout comfort.

At the sides of the desk, two non-slip handlebars extend out to improve your overall safety and provide a way to rest if the workout intensity becomes too challenging. At the front, the LCD monitor measures speed, distance, time, and calories burned. The user mode setting allows you to set personal workout goals such as a certain distance or amount of calories burned.

The SF-T7610 from Sunny Health & Fitness features a compact design, lightweight construction, and a convenient folding mechanism. It's a great budget-pick option if you need to move it around often or prefer something compact.

45 EXPERT SCORE

The SF-T7610 from Sunny Health & Fitness features a compact design, lightweight construction, and a convenient folding mechanism.


Monitor Functionality:0
Portability:0
Versatility:0
Comfort:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • The treadmill folds up to just 21" L x 26.5" W x 51" H, making it compact enough to store in most normal cupboard spaces at home
  • It's extremely portable, with a 70.5-pound frame weight and transport wheels underneath
  • he padded non-slip side rails add extra safety when exercising intensely

Could be better:

  • The monitor functions could be better, with no pre-set workout programs included

5. Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill

Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill
  • Speed Range: 0-10 mph
  • Max Incline: 10%
  • Folding: Yes
  • Weight Limit: 300 lbs
  • Item Weight: 180 lbs
  • Product Dimensions: 70" L x 34" W x 55" H
  • Display: Three LED Windows
  • Running Surface: 55" L x 20" W
  • Warranty: Lifetime Motor and Deck Warranty, 1 Year Labor, 1 Year Parts
  • Workout Programs: 10 Preset Programs
  • Additional Features: Three-zone Variable Response Cushioning System, Bluetooth Functionality, Integrated Speakers

Horizon Fitness makes great cardio equipment for real people living real lifestyles with no gimmicks. The brand wants fitness to be accessible, exciting, and effective for anyone who wants to achieve a healthier and happier lifestyle.

The Horizon Fitness Treadmill is one of my favorite-looking units, with a stylish front section using a blue, black, and gray color scheme. Out of my five treadmill choices, it has the most user-friendly console with several features to enhance your overall workout experience.

Horizon Fitness Treadmill Instagram
Photo by @muhdhazreeq

The innovative console design features one-touch controls allowing you to change the treadmill speed from 0 to 10 mph and incline up to 10% with a quick press on the center section. Each side of the center console has 10 pre-set workout programs, giving you the freedom to choose a predetermined workout if you prefer more direction.

Above the LCD display, the device shelf allows you to follow along to your favorite workout or music using your phone or tablet. On the far sides of the console, the integrated BlueTooth speakers connect to your media device to provide a more immersive workout experience.

The 55" L x 20" W deck gives you plenty of room to exercise and uses an innovative 3-way cushion response system. Horizon has broken the running area into three zones, with softer cushioning at the impact zone and finer cushioning at the push-off area. This gives you a responsive deck that helps to simulate the feeling of normal running and improves your workout experience.

The treadmill frame is made from durable aluminum and weighs 180 lbs. It has the joint highest max user weight out of my five choices at 300 lbs. With a footprint of 70" L x 34" W x 55" H, it's not as compact as my other choices so make sure you have enough space in your home gym.

The drive system uses QuietDrive technology which recalibrates after each step. This gives you a smoother running experience with less chance of lag when changing your intensity or stride pattern. The T101 folds away to 34" L x 46" W x 61" H using a soft-drop hydraulic lift system to protect the frame and your gym floor from possible damage.

Overall, the T101 treadmill from Horizon Fitness has a well-designed front console that offers an immersive workout experience. It uses a 3-way cushion response system to closely simulate normal running and improve your overall experience.

44.5 EXPERT SCORE

Pre-kaged pre-workout offers a powerful blend of ingredients, including caffeine for focus, beta-alanine to minimize digestive issues, and l-citrulline for an excellent pump, making it a reliable choice for boosting workout performance.


Monitor Functionality:0
Portability:0
Versatility:0
Comfort:0
Value for Money:0

Positives:

  • The 3-zone variable response system changes the amount of cushioning according to the deck area you’re running on to improve your workout
  • The motor QuietDrive technology re-calibrates after each step to give you a smoother running experience
  • The innovative console provides an immersive workout experience, with integrated BlueTooth speakers and a visually appealing center section

Could be better:

  • The larger frame size and weight may make it unsuitable for some smaller home gym spaces

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What are the Benefits of Treadmills with Shock Absorption?

✅ Joint Health

Treadmill running is defined as a high-impact activity, with repeated contact with the harder belt surface commonly leading to different levels of joint pain. This joint pain can lead to time off training, reduced performance, and pain during normal daily activities outside the gym.

One of the main benefits of using treadmills with built-in shock absorption is the reduction in impact when contacting the running deck. The shock absorption systems can help get rid of joint pain, improve joint health, and enhance your overall quality of life.

If you’re someone who loves running, the last thing you want to do is stop. Treadmills using shock absorption systems allow you to keep doing something you love from the comfort of your own home.

✅ Injury Prevention

Even if you don't suffer from joint pain, a shock-absorbing treadmill can reduce the chance of impact injuries commonly seen in the knees, hips, and feet.

Whilst you might not be currently experiencing noticeable pain, repeated high-impact running may be causing issues that will affect you in the future. The best way to prevent this from happening is by reducing the impact by using shock-absorbing software.

Benefits of Treadmills

What to Look for in Treadmills for Shock Absorption?

When choosing the right shock-absorbing treadmill, consider these main factors:

1. Shock-Absorption System

As the article name suggests, the shock-absorption system is the most important factor to consider before purchasing. Firstly, make sure the treadmill has some type of shock absorption built-in under the running belt. Most brands will mention this in their product description due to it being a main selling feature or unique selling point depending on the system used.

Shock absorption systems may vary in the amount and type of absorption provided, with some systems varying the amount depending on the belt area. Some systems can also be turned on and off allowing you to customize your running experience according to your goals and needs at the time.

2. Treadmill Dimensions

Compared to other equipment, treadmills can take up a lot of home gym space. This may need to be a consideration when purchasing depending on your available gym space of intended use.

First, check your home gym space to make sure the treadmill can fit when fully assembled. Allow yourself some extra room to move when running and make sure the treadmill can be placed next to a power outlet if it's needed.

Alongside this, consider the size of the deck running area. Most running decks are designed to accommodate normal use but if you’re a taller athlete, check the deck dimensions and compare them to your running stride length to see if it fits.

running on a treadmill

3. Monitor Functionality

Most treadmills contain a built-in monitor at the front, with differences in their functionality and design impacting the overall workout experience.

When looking at monitor design, consider your intended use and compare it to the different design features. If you’re someone who likes using pre-programmed workouts, check what programs the treadmill you're considering has and how easy they are to access when running.

If you want to use an electronic device when running, make sure the treadmill has a device shelf or built-in holder to keep it secure and within your view.

The monitor functionality will depend on the treadmill brand, with differences in workout metrics, BlueTooth systems, and audio speakers all changing the running experience. If you want tangible feedback when running, make sure the monitor measures the metrics you need as you run.

Integrated BlueTooth systems that use apps and audio speakers can provide you with immersive trainer-led running experiences. If this is something you need or want, make sure to check the product description to see if this is included.

4. Portability

If you’ve got a smaller gym space or need to move the treadmill around your house, make sure it's easily portable. Convenient treadmill features such as transport wheels, carry handles, and foldable designs all help with portability.

Measure the storage space you want to use and check it against the folded treadmill dimensions to see if it fits. Some treadmills fold upwards whilst others can fold to the floor, allowing you to store them under a desk or table.

Jogging on a treadmill is classed as a high-impact activity

5. Price and Quality

Before you even look at different treadmills, set yourself a budget that you’re comfortable with and make sure you're able to pay for it. Check the payment method and whether or not you need to pay the cost upfront or in installments.

When deciding if the treadmill you’re considering offers good value for money, compare the construction materials, unique features, and company warranties before making a final decision.

FAQ

Are Treadmills Good for Low-Impact Activity?

Running or jogging on a treadmill is classed as a high-impact activity. However, they can also be used for lower-impact activities such as walking. Shock-absorbing treadmills provide excellent ways to reduce the impact and improve joint health.

Do Treadmills Have Good Shock Absorption?

Treadmills offer varying levels of shock absorption depending on the belt design and added features. Normal treadmills are classed as high-impact activity meaning they don't offer good shock absorption compared to other lower-impact activities such as cycling and ellipticals.

Conclusion

The five treadmills I’ve reviewed above all feature shock-absorbing designs that are built under the running belt to reduce the amount of impact when running.

The NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill is my top-pick treadmill with shock absorption. The FlexSelect cushioning under the running belt uses spongy orange dampeners that can be turned on and off as needed. Notable features include over 20 workout programs to choose from and a hydraulic lifting system to fold it away safely.

Have you experienced joint pain before when running? Have you used a shock-absorbing treadmill before? Let’s talk about your running experiences below!

Also read:

References:

  1. Carl J. Lavie MD a, Duck-chul Lee PhD b, Xuemei Sui MD, PhD, MPH c, Ross Arena PhD, PT d, James H. O'Keefe MD e, Timothy S. Church MD, PhD f, Richard V. Milani MD a, Steven N. Blair PED, "Effects of Running on Chronic Diseases and Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality," Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 90, Issue 11, November 2015, Pages 1541-1552.
  2. Ac Shilton, "What all runners need to know about joint health," Runner's World, https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/health/injury/a775718/what-all-runners-need-to-know-about-joint-health/ (May 02, 2017).
  3. Gina P. Duchossois, Michael L. Nance, "Injury Prevention," ScienceDirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/injury-prevention (2012).
  4. Sam Clark, "5 low impact workouts for everyday fitness," Live Science, https://www.livescience.com/low-impact-workouts (November 04, 2021).
  5. P. Ramakrishnan, "Shock Absorber," ScienceDirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/shock-absorber (2013).

Why Trust Us?

With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

The product testing process is described in more detail here

Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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