How to Find the Best Cushioned Treadmill (2017 version)

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Cushioned treadmills provide a running , walking or jogging experience that’s easier on the joints. The cushioning of the track absorbs much of the impact your joints (mainly your ankles, hips and knees) experience with each step.

3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill

Our Pick for the Best Cushioned Treadmill

NordicTrack Desk Treadmill

The Best Cushioned Desk Treadmill for Business Professionals

Treadmill S5400 (Black)

The Best Cushioned Treadmill for Budget Shoppers

If you’re an older user, you’ll want a cushioned treadmill that’s easier on the joints.

A pro runner is running on road

How to Choose the Best Cushioned Treadmill

If you’re serious about finding the best cushioned treadmill, there are a lot of little features that you’ll want to consider. Of course, your main priority is to find a deck that is cushioned, but what else should you consider?

  • Weight Capacity: Users who are trying to lose weight may find that the treadmill they prefer doesn’t have a weight capacity that can accommodate their weight. If you’re a heavier user, make sure the treadmill you choose has a weight capacity that is right for you.
  • Speeds: The speed of a treadmill is important to some degree. If you want to get into a jog or run, you’ll need a treadmill that has speeds that go over 5 miles per hour.
  • USB Charging: When looking at more advanced models, you’ll find some neat features, including USB charging. The ability to charge or keep your devices running while on the treadmill is very beneficial in the digital age.
  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Monitoring your heart rate is key to losing weight. A heart rate monitor ensures that your heart rate is in the ideal range to benefit from your treadmill. Mayo Clinic provides a great guide on heart rate during aerobic exercise.
  • Folding: A folding design is a must-have in smaller spaces. If you live in a flat or apartment, you may want a folding treadmill that can be placed nicely in the corner. Treadmill decks can be 60″ or longer to allow for enough room to run on the deck, so they take up a lot of space.
  • Incline: An incline system is great for burning more calories. Inclines also put more tension on your muscles, allowing you to increase muscle strength when you’re walking or running. While not a must-have, inclines are recommended if you plan to build strength or lose weight when using your treadmill.
  • Audio: If you plan on using your treadmill daily or using a treadmill in a gym setting, audio inputs are a must. These ports allow you to pass the time while listening to your favorite music right on the unit’s built-in speakers.
  • Fans: A true luxury. Fans allow you to keep cool while running and are present in high-end machines.
  • Pre-sets: Advance your workout with pre-set courses and programs. While not necessary, these pre-sets ensure that you follow a treadmill routine that forces you to push your limits and meet your goals.

Not every treadmill will have all of the features listed above, so make a checklist of the features that you really want. The checklist will make it easier to make a decision when choosing between different models.

A runner is on pain

Why Cushioned Treadmills are Preferred

Active addresses one of the key injuries that runners face: runner’s knee. This is a condition caused by running. The condition can cause pain directly above or underneath the knee. The knee may swell or pop, too.

But this is just one of the many conditions that running presents.

Runners also mention that they have problems  with their:

  • Hips
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Spines
  • Toes

Your joints will absorb a lot of the impact when you walk and run. If you run on hard pavement, there is little shock absorption aside from the absorption provided by your shoes. Your joints take the brunt of the shock, leading to pain.

If you plan on using a treadmill, the extra cushioning will provide you with the added protection to keep your joints free of pain.

Benefits of a Cushioned Treadmill

Cushioned treadmills have a deck that is cushioned. These decks may also have “shock absorption,” which is the same thing. Why people recommend and choose cushioned treadmills is that the manufacturer has addressed one of the key issues people suffer from when running.

If you have the option to reduce your risk of injury and pain, it only makes sense to use a cushioned treadmill.

When using these treadmills, you’ll:

  • Reduce impact on the joints
  • Reduce risk of injury
  • Improve health without setbacks

It’s all about safety. Even “young joints” are under threat from the repeated impact of running. A few tips from Runners World  to further reduce your risks of joint pain and injury include:

  1. Train properly
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Avoid hard surfaces
  4. Wear the right shoes
  5. Maintain proper form
  6. Stretch often
  7. Incorporate strength training into your routine
  8. Eat right

A cushioned treadmill helps, but if you combine all of the points above, you’ll be at a much lower risk of injury and strains when running.

The video below has a few tips on how to run properly.

Our Top Picks for the Best Cushioned Treadmill in 2020

NordicTrack Desk Treadmill Review

NordicTrack’s desk treadmill is the ideal choice for anyone who wants to get up from their seat at work and stretch their legs. You’ll be able to run and place your laptop on the desk to work at the same time.

This model features:

  • 18″ x 40″ work surface
  • iFit smart capability
  • 0 – 6 MPH speeds
  • USB charging station
  • Cushioned deck
  • Spacesaver design
  • Heart rate monitor
  • 300-pound weight capacity
  • LCD window and controls

The Desk Treadmill features a length of 75 inches, with the deck being 60 inches long. The width of the treadmill is 27 inches, with the deck having a width of 18 inches. The space allows a person to run confidently on this treadmill.

Designed with a desk, the 18″ x 40″ work surface is large enough to hold important documents and a laptop. Now you can walk while working.

You’ll find that there’s a USB charging station for plugging in your most important devices, including: phones, tablets and other electronics.

A heart rate monitor is included to ensure that the user knows their heart rate when running or walking. You’ll be able to adjust the speed between 0 and 6 miles per hour – fast enough to enter into a full sprint.


  • Large workspace
  • USB charging system
  • Heart rate monitor included


  • Difficult to assemble

The main issue with this NordicTrack model is that it’s very difficult to assemble. Some retailers do provide expert assembly if you don’t want to spend too much time on the assembly process. Otherwise, this is a cushioned treadmill that’s ideal for the business professional.

Goplus Folding Treadmill Review

Goplus’ folding treadmill provides a shock-absorption system which acts as a cushioned deck. The system is designed to take pressure off of the knees and joints thanks to the shock absorbers located on both sides of the deck.

This model has an array of features, including:

  • Shock absorption system
  • Multi-function computer
  • G-Fit Bluetooth connect
  • Foldable design
  • Incline up to 15%
  • 5 – 7.5 MPH speed
  • Hand pulse
  • 220-pound weight capacity

Goplus’ shock absorption alleviates stress on the knees and joints, while the multi-function computer allows you to track: calories, time, distance, speed, pulse and modes. There’s also easy adjustments for speed and incline.

You can adjust the incline of this model to 15% – perfect for burning more calories.

The speed can be adjusted up to 7.5 miles per hour, and there is a hand pulse to track your heart rate.

A maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds is featured, but this may be too low for some heavier users. There’s also G-Fit Bluetooth connect that provides you with a personal report after your session.


  • Folds up to save space
  • Offers an include up to 15%
  • Extremely quiet


  • Low weight capacity

The only small complaint, if you can call it that, is that this treadmill has a weight capacity of just 220 pounds. Aside from that, the shock absorption system, computer and incline provide a great workout without knee or joint pain.

3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill Review

The 3G Cardio is designed for the elite runner, but it’s a treadmill designed for serious use. This model features an Ortho Flex Shock suspension, and it has an over-sized platform of 22″ x 62″ for users with longer strides.

The Elite Runner boasts:

  • 22″ x 62″ deck
  • Shock absorption system
  • Pre-programmed courses
  • Built-in speakers
  • Maximum speed of 12 MPH
  • 15% incline maximum
  • MP3, Audio connections
  • 1-touch speed and incline
  • Built-in fan with adjustable speeds
  • Heart rate grips
  • Monitoring system
  • 400-pound weight capacity

The Elite Runner is meant for commercial gyms, but it can also be used in the home. Pre-programmed courses allow users to test their limits, while speeds of 12 miles per hour are pushing most people’s limits.

The 15% incline, audio connections, advanced monitor, heart rate grips and shock absorption system make this a leading treadmill.

You can even create your own custom courses with the Elite, allowing you to take full control of your fitness level. The unit also features a 10-year parts warranty, so you’ll have peace of mind when making your purchase.


  • Pre-programmed courses
  • 12 MPH speed limit
  • Extra-large deck


  • Extremely heavy
  • Doesn’t fold

The Elite Runner is very heavy at nearly 400 pounds, and it doesn’t fold. But, it’s one of the industry’s leading treadmills and is built-to-last. The built-in programs, high speeds, extra-large deck and high weight capacity make this a great choice for gyms and home use.

Treadmill S5400 Review

The S5400 comes with a damping system on the deck which provides eight shock-absorbing springs to disperse the shock across the running deck. User-friendly, this model can reach maximum speeds of 10 miles per hour and features:

  • Heart rate monitoring
  • 5 – 10 MPH speeds
  • 8 shock-absorbing springs
  • 12 programs
  • Quick-speed key on handrail
  • Auto-stop function
  • Folding design
  • LCD display
  • USB Port
  • Audio Port
  • Incline
  • 308-pound weight capacity

The S5400 offers ideal shock absorption along with 12 programs that help users push themselves to work harder on the treadmill. A quick-speed key on the handrail allows for rapid speed adjustments without needing to remove your hands from the handrail.

Heart rate monitoring is provided, and there are two pneumatic shocks that assist you when you want to fold up or fold down the treadmill deck.

Wheels in the front of the unit make moving the folded treadmill into the corner a breeze.

If you’re at risk of falling off the treadmill and have attached the safety clip to your clothes, the unit will power down.


  • Folds up and down with ease
  • 12 built-in programs
  • Quick speed adjustment key


  • No custom programs

There’s not much wrong with this treadmill, but if I had one feature I wish was included, it would be the ability to add custom programs. Aside from this, the S5400 is one of the best cushioned treadmills on the market – and it has a ton of features.

AFG Sport 5.5AT Electric Folding Treadmill Review

The AFG 5.5AT is an electric, folding treadmill that offers a lifetime warranty, 10% incline maximum, easy setup and response cushioning. Response cushioning adjusts to your running speed to provide better overall shock absorption.

This model features:

  • Variable response deck
  • Integrated fan design
  • 3 LED screens
  • 9 workout programs
  • Audio jack
  • 5 – 10 MPH speeds
  • 10% incline
  • Hydraulic folding lift
  • 300-pound capacity

AFG’s 5.5AT offers three LED displays with a staggering 20 quick-touch keys to see detailed information about your workout. The unit has nine built-in workout programs and an audio jack that allows you to listen to your favorite music while walking or running.

The 10% incline is more than enough to burn excess calories and strengthen your leg muscles.

When you’re done with your session, the hydraulic folding lift makes it easy to store your treadmill upright. There are also speeds as low as 0.5 MPH for walking and 10 MPH for running.


  • 20 quick-touch keys allow for quick control
  • 9 workout programs and 3 LED screens
  • Hydraulic lift makes it easy to fold


  • 20″ x 55″ deck

The deck on this treadmill is my only complaint. A lot of experts recommend a deck length of 60″ for running, and the 5.5AT falls short at 55.” While this won’t hinder the average person’s session, very tall users with a large stride may have issues running on this treadmill.


If I could pick only one treadmill, it would have to be the 3G Cardio Elite. This model offers everything: 10-year warranty, high weight capacity, ample programs, high speeds, incline and so much more.

It’s a treadmill that meets the needs of beginners and track stars.

NordicTrack’s desk treadmill is a great choice for business professionals because of its large desk attachment. If you’re trying to stretch your legs and get your blood moving instead of sitting behind a desk, this may be a great option for you.

But when it comes to the most complete treadmill, we have to go with the Elite – it simply outpaces the competition in every way.