A treadmill seems simple enough, but you can still develop bad habits that can sabotage your results—and even lead to injury. Here are the three most common treadmill blunders and how to correct them:

1. You wear the wrong shoes

Go for function before style. Look for shoes with extra padding in the soles to protect your heels and foot bones from the high impact of each foot strike.

2. You look at your feet

Looking at your feet while walking on the treadmill can cause you to lose your balance, strain the back of your neck and misalign the rest of your body. Gaze straight ahead and keep your shoulders level and chest open. Your hips, knees and low-back will follow, making a relatively straight line from the head to your feet.

3. You hold the bars on the incline

Walking on an incline burns more calories than walking on the level treadmill — unless you sabotage results by hanging on. You burn fewer calories when you support part of your own body weight. Walk naturally on the incline as you would normally walk up a hill outdoors. You should be nearly vertical with a slight lean (five degrees), not way forward so you’re grabbing onto the front of the treadmill. Your feet should come down underneath your centre of gravity, not far out in front.

Burn the calories but don’t overdo it.

Excess muscle soreness, elevated resting heart rate, and little aches and pains that get worse with each workout are signs you’re overtraining. If you notice any of these red flags, stop your current workout, re-evaluate your exercise programme and get some rest. High-intensity workouts should be done only two to three times a week. For general fitness, moderate workouts of between three and five times a week should work for most people.