No, when used properly, a treadmill is no worse for the knees than running on asphalt. Before blaming your treadmill, there are a few things you should look at first to make sure you are using your machine the right way.
The most common reason people experience joint pain while running on a treadmill is incorrect speed settings.
It may seem obvious, but you will be amazed at the number of people that crank up the speed to the highest setting and then pound away as if they’re in training for the 100 metre spring against Usain Bolt!
If you are a beginner or suffer from joint pain, start slowly and build up your speed as you go.
Overusing a treadmill can lead to painful joints if you are not giving yourself enough time to recover after a workout. If you’ve lowered your speed and still feel sore, add an extra day or two in between runs to see if a bit more recovery time helps.
Another common issue that can lead to discomfort when running is poor running skills/technique.
If your running technique is okay when running outside, it should be the same when running on a treadmill. But if you feel like you’re running a bit differently on your machine, it may be that you are a bit more upright than you would be when running outside. An easy way to correct this is to add a little incline to your run. Try raising your level of incline until your running stance feels more natural.
Is your footwear the cause?
Never underestimate the effect a good pair of sports shoes can have on your joints. Using the wrong footwear can cause issues, and if you are experiencing discomfort when jogging or running, your shoes may be the problem.
Incorrect shoes that do not fit the shape of your feet or even worn-out shoes can lead to pain when running. Try to find a pair of shoes that provide a high level of shock absorption to help reduce the impact on your knees.
Are elliptical machines better than a treadmill for the knees?
Yes, when compared to running on a treadmill, elliptical machines are considered to insert less stress on the knees. But walking on a treadmill exerts the same amount of force on the knees you would get from an elliptical.
The reason the elliptical machine is less stressful on the joints/knees is that your feet are always touching the pedals. The impact of your feet hitting the ground when running or jogging can aggravate any underlying issues you have with your joints, so an elliptical can often be the better choice.
What is the best exercise machine for bad knees?
Your doctor would be best to give you this answer as he/she will understand what is causing the pain in your knees. The only thing we can do is give our recommendation as to what are the types of exercise machines that exert less impact compared to running on a treadmill.
As we mentioned earlier in the post, the elliptical cross-trainer is a good option.
Ellipticals are low impact machines that still allow you to get a high-intensity workout and are often used by people that are recovering from injury. If you are concerned you won’t be able to maintain a high level of fitness on an elliptical, don’t be. Studies have shown they are a good alternative to the treadmill and can help you burn the same amount of calories and reach the same heart rate as you could on a treadmill.
The great thing about ellipticals is they allow you to switch direction and work backward. Which is handy for targeting different muscles in the legs and can help keep your workouts interesting.
Although elliptical machines are great for low impact workouts, you will more likely see less muscle development than you would by running on a treadmill.
Another option to consider if your knees get sore when using a treadmill is an exercise bike. Cycling allows you to take the weight off of your knees, some of it at least, while the hamstrings muscles, and quads doing most of the work.
Cycling provides a great cardiovascular workout and helps to strengthen the major muscle groups in the legs, thighs, and back. Strengthening the quad and hamstring muscles can help to protect and support your knee joints. And because pedaling is predictable, there is less chance of getting caught out and jarring the knee when working out.
Using a stationary bike is considered to be more gentle in the joints than walking, which makes it a good alternative to the treadmill. You will be able to get a good workout while putting minimum pressure on your knees.
Rowing machines provide good strength-building benefits while giving you a cardiovascular workout at the same time. If you are overweight or have existing joint problems, high impact exercises and workouts can carry more risks than benefits. The rowing machine is a great alternative if you’re unable to perform load-bearing exercises as the motion of rowing is low impact and puts minimal stress on the joints.
Rowers are similar in a way to exercise bikes as they are great for building up the strength in your legs and joints and are great for injury prevention. If you suffer from back pain, a rowing machine may not be the best option for you. But if this is a concern, you can minimize the risk by using the correct rowing form. You can take much of the pressure off of your back if you maintain a good rowing posture and let your legs do the work.
I hope this post has provided you with a bit more information which you need to make a better decision. It is always recommended you speak to a health professional if your joint pain is prolonged or beginning to get too painful to cope with on a daily basis.
If you do decide to go with a treadmill, always start slow and build up your speed over time. Look for a good quality machine that provides good shock absorption and get yourself a nice pair of running shoes that provide a lot of support and comfort. Thank You!