When you’re shopping for a treadmill, one of the most important factors to consider is the thickness of the mat. When a mat is too thin it can often cause knee injuries or some discomfort, while the tradeoff with thicker mats is that they can cause the treadmill to become more difficult to use. So, what’s the ideal thickness for a treadmill mat and what are the factors that go into deciding that? Read on to find out.
What Makes Some Mats Thick or Thin
It is all about the material that makes treadmill mats thicker or thinner. The three most common forms of mat material are foam, rubber, and PVC. PVC has the tightest range of thickness, tending to be 5-8mm thick. Rubber can range anywhere from 3-20mm. Foam mats are often the thickest, starting at 10mm. Material plays a large part in affecting the durability and stability of the mat so it has to be considered in the context of thickness.
Picking the Right Mat Thickness
What type of mat thickness and material you choose will depend on all sorts of factors including what room you plan on putting the treadmill in, how you plan on using it, and what kind of runner you are. For example, if your primary goal is to protect your floor, then a thicker mat made from a harder material is a better choice. If you want to use your treadmill primarily for running or use a folding treadmill, then you’ll want a thinner mat that absorbs shocks better.
Type of Training
For more intense training activities like increasing the incline, harder sprints, or prolonged distances you will want more durable mats. This tends to be thicker mats that will better sustain through any wear and tear.
Vibration and Noise
A thinner mat is going to vibrate and make a lot more noise. So depending on your floor type, if you are in an apartment or are putting the treadmill near bedrooms in your house, the best bet is to get a rubber mat and make sure it is thick. This will help to dampen the noise and vibration.
If you need a mat that can handle a few different scenarios, room types and usage patterns your best bet is to get a medium sized foam mat. This will give you the most versatility and can be used in a variety of settings. For example, if you have a home gym and want to use your treadmill in multiple rooms, or if you want to be able to move your mat around easily, a medium sized foam mat is ideal.
Value is obviously a very important consideration for the majority of people. For regular treadmill users they don’t need the heaviest usage mats, a PVC mat that has a medium thickness is going to be the most affordable and works well for most people.
Different mat thickness and materials vary widely in terms of durability. As a general rule, if durability is your number one concern the best option is a thicker rubber mat. It will not tear as easily and will be able to sustain longer treadmill routines.
Are There Ways to Alter a Treadmill Mat Thickness
If you are having issues with the thickness of your treadmill mat, there are a few temporary fixes you can try.
Use a Towel
One is to place a towel or two over the mat. This will add some extra padding and should make it more comfortable to run on.
A Sheet of Amenable Material
Another option is to place a sheet of plywood or foam over the mat. This will also add some extra padding and should help make your run more comfortable.
Pieces of Rubber
If you’re looking for a way to increase the thickness and dampen the noise of your treadmill mat, rubber tiles do a good job of simulating a thicker mat. Not only will this reduce the amount of noise that your machine makes, it will also help to reduce the wear and tear on your current mat.
Find an Extra Thin Mat
If you want to increase the thickness and comfort of your current treadmill mat, you can use other thin mats. There are a lot of different forms of thin mats that you might have laying around like a yoga mat or any other kind of exercise mat. These are fairly versatile and let you simulate a thicker mat. This is especially helpful if you’re new to running or working out on a treadmill, as it can make the experience more comfortable. Just make sure that the mats are all compatible in size, and try not to use too many mats at once, as this could create a tripping hazard.
Now that you know the different thicknesses and materials available, it’s important to think about how the treadmill will be used. If you have a home gym and are mostly concerned with noise reduction, then a thicker mat made of rubber or foam would be a good choice. However, if you’re looking for something more temporary that can easily be moved around or stored when not in use, then a thinner mat made of PVC or vinyl may work better for you.
No matter what your needs are, we hope this guide has helped make the process of choosing a treadmill mat a little less daunting.