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Are Treadmills Bad For Your Knees

Treadmill Vs Running Outside: Verdict

How to Use a Treadmill With Bad Knees & Hips

Overall, both treadmill running and outdoor running have their benefits. Treadmill running is convenient, lower-impact, and much more precise but comes with a bigger overall cost. Running outdoors can often feel more engaging, reduce poor mental health symptoms, and is cheaper overall but can bring weather or injury issues.

Regardless of which type of running you choose, having a key foundation of consistency, a nutritious diet, and plenty of rest are key to a healthy lifestyle.

What Type Of Surface Are You Running On

It makes a big difference to your overall knee health when running to know what type of surface youre dealing with. Are you running on concrete or asphalt, which tends to be harder and more impactful on your knees?

Or perhaps youre zipping around a composite track that is softer as you strike it? Some people run in sand or grass, which can be the softest impact on your knees.

Myths About Running On The Treadmill

Many people think they will get overuse knee injuries because of the constant repetitive motions from running on the treadmill. The reality is that running on the treadmill is actually easier for your knees than running outside because there are no obstacles and treadmill belt is a shock absorber to reduce impacts on your knees.

Running on a surface like concrete is harder for your knee joints than running on a cushioned surface like the treadmill belt. Other surfaces like a grassy field or dirt field do not provide sufficient grip for running which can put more stress on your knee joints and you might encounter obstacles to twist your knees.

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Why Is Running On A Treadmill Regularly Bad For You

Many people dont agree that a treadmill workout regularly is suitable for health and fitness. Its a great edition for improving your muscle and cardiovascular health but unnecessary for a regular workout. Now, you can ask me why it is bad for regular exercise. The main reason is, it has some disadvantages of regular walking or running on the machine such as knees problems. Here are some disadvantages of walking on a treadmill.

It can Change the Bodys Normal Mechanism

You will be surprised after knowing how the machine can change the body! But it is true that when you walk or run at a running desk, your legs, knees and lower limbs can prepare your body for excessive walking or running. So, you probably understand how the machine changes your body.

The high impact energies moving through the bodys joints

Running on a treadmill is a high-impact workout in the gym, there is no doubt about it. A high-impact exercise also gives you a bad experience for your knees and joints. Sometimes it can lead to wear and tear on our joints cartilage. If you compare, other exercise equipments like elliptical machines and exercise bikes are very low-impact workout devices from treadmill machines. However, if you compare walking outside and inside, the results will not be acceptable. Walking outside is always acceptable.

The motivation factor is very low

Why Do My Knees Hurt When I Run On A Treadmill

Is the Treadmill Bad for Your Knees?

“There are a combination of factors that could lead to knee pain when running on a treadmill, including using different biomechanics when running on a treadmill versus outside, as well as using a different stride,” Alexis Colvin, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Mount Sinai and chief medical officer for the US Open, told POPSUGAR.

In fact, any knee pain you experience while running is very likely related to your form. If you’re experiencing pain in both knees, ” is often caused by alignment issues stemming from our foundation: the feet,” explained Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist in TriBeCa. “If the feet are not transferring ground reaction forces properly up the chain, alignment is thrown off and knee joint concerns arise.” Poor form is often to blame for this chain reaction, Dr. Lobkova added, “especially when on the treadmill.” You might also start to lose your form as you grow tired regardless of the surface you’re running on which can take a toll on your joints.

Even if your form is solid, outdoor surfaces are often more shock-absorbent than a treadmill, helping to reduce joint pain. “Running on the grass and dirt increases the shock absorption from the feet and up the musculoskeletal chain, since the surface has a higher energy return,” Dr. Lobkova told POPSUGAR. The same can’t be said for pavement, which means that maintaining your form is just as crucial when running on roads or sidewalks as it is when using a treadmill.

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Running On A Treadmill

Using a treadmill isnt the same as running on a track, but it can be a great alternative for people who are concerned about their physical safety or live in a place where the weather is bad. Anyone who starts an exercise program must keep any muscle or other health issues in mind and tailor the workout to fit their body. Even Eric Heiden, a five time Olympic gold medalist believes that treadmills are great for indoor workouts. He says that they offer stride control and are low impact.

Its important for each person to listen to their body and do a workout that works for them and doesnt cause pain or injury.

Treadmill Vs Running Outside: Impact On Knees

As running is a repetitive load-bearing exercise, many people who are starting to run regularly can feel concerned about their joints, especially their knees. While the Journal of Sports and Medicine advises that having proper shoes can help mitigate the force of your foot-strike, running can still affect your joints.

Researchers have found that runners often have a shorter stride as well as a higher overall stride rate when on a treadmill vs running outside. A 2014 review from Sports Health found that this can translate to less impact on joints such as your knees, ankles, and hips.

Modern treadmills also have belts that are designed to absorb the force of our footstrike and increase cushioning. Meanwhile, a 2017 study from the Osteoarthritis Initiative analyzing exercise habits of over 2,500 people suggests that running regularly may actually decrease the chance of frequent knee pain.

If you are still concerned about the impact of running on your knees, you can work to minimize damage by:

Doing knee exercises to strengthen the muscles around them Wear the right shoes Ensure that you have proper posture while running Try wearing knee straps Try to use shorter strides Minimize bouncing while running

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Running On A Treadmill Vs Outside

Treadmill running and overground running were compared biomechanically in a study published in 2019. In this research, 33 healthy, uninjured runners were enrolled to compare the differences between running on treadmills versus running outside.

The findings found that both treadmill and outside running produced the same loading forces on muscle activity and muscular tendon. The changes can be seen from the measures of foot strike, knee flexion range of motion, and vertical displacement .

Researchers observed that running on a treadmill has a lower impact on the knees than running outside: The results are as follows:

  • The vertical displacement of jogging on a treadmill was much smaller when compared against running on all overground surfaces.
  • In some instances, the properties of treadmill running biomechanics can be advantageous for training or knee injury rehab since treadmill has a less stiff surface which is favorable for rehab with lower vertical loading rates compared to stiff overground surfaces.
  • Higher muscular forces have been identified using a treadmill, hence this can be helpful for rehabilitation from lower limb stress fractures.
  • During treadmill running, the reduced propulsive force was identified which provides less pressure to your knee joints, because the running speed is relatively steady.
  • When running on a treadmill, reduced braking forces are detected, resulting in less impact on the knees.

What Do Most People Believe

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Is it true that treadmills might harm your knees? The quick answer is no. However, they will only prevent injuries if they are used correctly.

If you workout and experience pain while doing so, you are doing it incorrectly. This isnt just for treadmill jogging We can also use it for weightlifting, chin-ups, and other exercises.

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Treadmill Vs Running Outside: Price

Once youve decided to start running regularly, its time to put your money where your mouth is. But which is cheaper: running on the treadmill vs running outside? For both types of running, the common costs that may or may not apply include:

Fitness clothes Safety gear i.e. head torch, reflective jacket, or strips

With the optional purchase of accessories such as:

Body weights i.e. wrist or ankle weights A fitness app or music platform subscription

However, when using a treadmill, you may need to factor in certain costs depending on your location. If you choose to use a gym, you need to factor in the cost of a membership, which costs an average of $58 according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute. However, this cost can actually rise to over $100, depending on where you live. Fuel or travel costs may also be a factor if you live further than a walk or cycle away from your local gym.

You may also need to frankly consider if you will regularly use your gym membership. If you prefer not to go to gyms, purchasing a treadmill could be an alternative option, but that may mean spending between $100$4,000 alongside the general running purchases above.

Its clear that running outside is the cheapest option when discussing running on the treadmill vs running outside however, prices and preferences will vary. Only you can decide if either option is worth it for you.

How Hard Is It

A hard surface makes high-impact exercises such as running even higher impact. Your knees act as a type of shock absorber, and the harder the surface, the more shock they must absorb — up to three times your body weight with each step, according to “Runner’s World.” A soft surface such as grass and dirt — as long as it’s not hard-packed — absorbs more of the shock and gives you more bounce in your step. As far as firmness goes, a treadmill and asphalt are about the same. A “Runner’s World” list of the best running surfaces gives treadmills a 6.5 and asphalt a 6. Concrete, however, is much harder, earning a rating of 2.5 — avoid it if possible when you’re running. That means dodge the light-colored sidewalk and stick to asphalt road surfaces if it’s safe to do so or look for asphalt-paved paths. These paths will be dark gray, almost black, with solid surfaces, compared with concrete sidewalks that are nearly white with evenly spaced, built-in cracks.

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When Will Running On A Treadmill Be Bad For Your Knees

Okay, before we answer this question, we need to talk a little about treadmills.

So, here are the basics:

A treadmill is a machine that is designed for running. The person who uses a treadmill will remain in a fixed position during their run staying at the same spot throughout the whole session. That is what makes a treadmill practical for indoor use.

Keep in mind that there is a giant moving belt at the bottom of the machine. This belt is what keeps you at the same spot while youre moving. The belt will continuously rotate to keep you stationary while running.

If you want to read more about treadmills, check out these articles:

Now that we got that out of the way, lets discuss why running a treadmill COULD be bad for your knees:

If you jump on a treadmill and start running without rhythm or your body form is inspired by Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons you will definitely stress your knees.

In other words:

Dont get on a treadmill and start running wildly, flailing your body while having bad posture, or running awkwardly. This will, in time, cause your leg problems. Your ankles, knees, and other joints will feel the pain and suffer.



How To Get Ready For A Treadmill Workout

15 Best Treadmills For Arthritis, Bad Knees &  Joints

If your knees are bothering you before walking, apply heat for 15-20 minutes to relax muscles and ease aching. You can take a warm shower or wrap a warm towel around your legs.

When your body feels ready to go, itâs important to put on the right footwear. Supportive, closed-toe athletic shoes with soles 1-inch high or lower are the best choice to avoid hurting your ankles. You need to thread the shoelaces all the way through the top loop for a secure fit.

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Is Trail Running Better For The Knees

Running can have a big impact, both on your waistline and on your joints. According to, running at a fast 8-mph clip can burn 861 calories per hour for a 160-pound person. However, you’re also jarring your knees with every step. Some surfaces are softer on your knees than others, but treadmill and asphalt are about the same hardness. The jury’s still out on which surface is better for your knees, since both have pros and cons.

Does Warming Up And Stretching Make A Difference On Your Knees

Yes, warming up and stretching do make a difference on your knees.

Hear me out.

When you stretch your legs and knee joints, youre preparing them for strenuous activity. By doing so, youre gradually preparing your body for action. And your body really appreciates being prepared before being thrown into physical activities.

People who run on a treadmill should use a warm-up routine before they start. Actually, either what kind of exercise or workout you plan to do you should do some form of warm-up first.

Doing so will reduce the risk of muscle injuries, and you dont want to get injured, right?

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What To Check Before Purchasing A Treadmill

Like stationary bikes and elliptical trainers, treadmills can be fairly expensive, so it is a good idea to try a variety of different models to find equipment with the right combination of features. Some factors and features that should be considered include:

  • The power of the motor. Many models of treadmills have a continuous power rating, usually from 1.5 to 3.0 a higher rating generally indicates a smoother motion and more powerful and quieter motor.
  • The area of the running surface. It should be both long enough and wide enough to accommodate the typical walking or running stride of the user to prevent falling or tripping
  • Cushioning quality. It should provide enough absorption to minimize impact on joints but not so much bounce that it feels unstable.
  • Electronic or manual controls that are easy to use, read, and program
  • An acceptable noise level, checked while in slow mode and running mode
  • Quality of the workmanship and stability, including whether the equipment has handrails and, if so, how securely they are attached

Is Running On A Treadmill Bad For Your Knees

Does Exercising on a Treadmill Damage Your Knees?

According to a source, in 2020, the graph of overweight adults reached up to 39%. To counter this, exercise and a balanced diet play a vital role. One of such magical exercises is running on a treadmill. Though it does a tremendous job in weight loss, many health-related departments are now pointing towards a new underlying issue is running on a treadmill bad for your knees?

Usually, if you spend your 30 minutes on a treadmill, the chances are that you will lose 250 to 350 calories, depending upon your weight. Despite this advantage, orthopedics is claiming that this exertion may lead to some joints and knees issues.

As an alternative, they are prescribing other ways to counter arthritis and joint-related issues. But how exactly is it impacting your knees? Lets learn in this article.

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How To Prevent Injury When Using A Treadmill

As mentioned earlier, there are several ways you can minimize the risk of developing knee injuries while working out on a treadmill.

The first thing you should do is make sure youre keeping your back straight. This will help ensure that your weight stays evenly distributed over your entire body instead of just being placed on your knees.

Next, you should try to maintain a neutral spine throughout your workout. This means that your head, neck, shoulders, hips, and ankles should be aligned in a straight line.

You can achieve this by lifting your chest upward as you inhale and lowering your chest downward as you exhale.

Another important tip for preventing knee injuries is to use proper foot placement. Make sure that your feet are positioned directly under your hips so that they stay level during your workout.

If you dont do this correctly, youll likely end up leaning forward, putting extra stress on your knees.

Another factor to consider is to purchase supportive and comfortable running shoes as this may help prevent knee injury by ensuring that your feet remain stable.


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