Are treadmills bad for your knees?

Treadmills and knee problems

If you are a fan of the treadmill, then you’ll know that it is a great exercise that can be done at any time of the year. It also shows rhythm and distance. Cardio workouts on a treadmill are high impact exercises, and that’s why so many people wonder if it has any effect on their knees.

While many high impact exercises can affect the knees, there are some preventive measures that you can take in order to prevent injuries, pain or swelling.

Uneven surfaces

Often, it is the type of surface on which you run is what causes knee problems. As a general rule, if the surface on where you are running is hard, your knees will have to absorb more energy. This is the reason why hard surfaces as pavement or treadmills have been linked to an increased knee and lower back stress. If you often suffer from knee or back pain, then maybe you should run on softer surfaces, such as a golf court.

Running on treadmill

The right shoes are very important to run on a treadmill

In an ideal situation, the shoes you wear are the best to absorb most of the impact with the ground. When running on a treadmill, your shoes must properly support your knees and ankles as well as other joints.

Running shoes must be changed every 300 or 400 miles. Be sure to buy real running shoes, because they tend to be lighter and provide better support. You can even get your running analyzed on a treadmill to determine the exact type of shoe that fits your feet.

What is the best way to use the treadmill?

There is a proper way to use a treadmill in order to reduce the impact on your knees and get the best cardio workouts benefits as well as calorie burning. These include not clinging on the supports because you may inhibit the proper way to run. Focus on your abdominal muscles instead (keep them activated) because doing so will help stabilize other body parts. Also focus on a fluid movement when running on a treadmill.

Progressive training on treadmills

According to Columbia University, there is little evidences to suggest that using a treadmill have a significant incidence on knee problems or arthritis when compared to other forms of running. However, this is based on progressive training, which means you start with a low intensity program per session. Then, slowly progress to a constant rhythm instead of running too hard or too long right from the start. While working to achieve this, try to alternate treadmill cardio workouts with other cardio machines or activities, such as bicycle riding, swimming or weight lifting. This will prevent your muscles to suffer from injuries.


Stretching before running on the treadmill can help prevent injuries and pain, Stretches that stretch quadriceps (front muscles of the legs) and the hamstrings (back of the leg) also help to warm up and support the knees. Be sure to stretch at least 3 to 5 minutes before doing cardio on the treadmill. Stop running if you start to experience pain or feel that there’s something wrong with your knees.

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