When I first started using the treadmill my legs were weak and I had to go slow to avoid gripping, ie 1 mph, then slowly increased to 1.5 mph as my sense of balance and legs improved. Now I am up to 2.2 mph without holding on, just gotta work at it. I found that holding, rather than swinging arms at sides stressed my back.
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That happens to me when I hang on to anything for any length of time no matter how tightly, but I've never hung on to the treadmill. Maybe you could try to hold on with one hand and then alternate and see if that helps?
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