Is Running On A Treadmill Bad For Your Knees

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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? Let’s learn in this article.

Is Treadmill Good for Knees?

Many orthopedics, including physiologist Jerry Snider, state that spending a long time on a treadmill can be bad for the knees. Though the suggested time for running on a treadmill is 30 minutes, many people might be doing it all the wrong way in those 30 minutes. Some are even extending it to 2 hours. Hence exerting lots of pressure on knees for straight 2 hours. 

So, to know if running on a treadmill is bad for your knees, we need to consider an example.

The Analogy of Slabs and Knees

Consider the example of two wooden slabs being rubbed together. The force of friction in between these slabs can vary with the sliding speed. 

So, let’s imagine that you are sliding these slabs against each other on an average speed level. You won’t be able to see much of the effects of friction in some time. Now, speed up the sliding process and rub both the slabs against each other with the maximum speed. 

After some point, you will observe some erosion on the top layers of both slabs. It happens due to the rubbing effect or gliding effect. When these two slabs glide over each other with great speed, they might erode the top player of each other due to force. 

This motion causes erosion on the top layer of both slabs. Now, if you continue this same motion, you may witness an end of both the slabs.

What’s Common Between Knees And slabs?

Now apply the analogy mentioned above on your knees while running on the treadmill.

When you walk, you usually place your heel first on the ground, followed by your toe. This pose balances the posture. Also, it gives no direct effect or force to your knees.

However, when people run on the treadmill, they generally place their toe first, and, in most cases, they don’t even place the heel on the mat. This posture directly puts all the pressure on the knees, that too with the maximum speed.

Hence, this motion can cause knee joints to lose the cushioning fluid that absorbs all the shocks and helps glide movement. This is what exactly happens when you rub two slabs together. With increasing pressure and speed, you can make your knees lose the cushioning fluid that is present in between them.

Can You Counter This Shocking Impact?

The answer is yes!

But for that, you will need to change your posture while running on the treadmill. So, let’s start working on walking posture. That means you will need to place your whole foot on the mat. This helps in minimizing the number of jerks on the knees.

This method provides additional support to your knees by putting almost equal force on lower bones. Thereby, this equal (or sometimes unequal) division of power helps lower the knee’s direct force. This also distributes all the pressure on the lower area instead of applying directly to the knees. 

However, the posture is not easy to follow. Because most of the time, we practice placing only our toes on the treadmill. However, you can start practicing correcting your posture.  For that, you can also start by walking on the treadmill first. This way, you can force yourself to place your feet properly on the belt. 

Is There Any Best Treadmill for Arthritis Knees?

Exercising and running on a treadmill are not limited to fit or obese persons. Even arthritis patients can do a cardio workout. Most of the time, psychologists suggest that cardio and exercise can increase blood flow. This helps to improve the issues of swelling joints or pain in the knees. 

However, if you are an arthritis patient or may have a genetic history of arthritis, you probably think twice before starting treadmill exercise. To avoid the situation, you can opt between an Elliptical Trainer and a Treadmill. But to make a sound decision, you need to know the difference between these two. 

Treadmill Versus Elliptical Trainer: Finding Difference

Both of the machines are perfect for indoor exercises. When it comes to indoor cardio, none can beat the performance of these two machines. However, there is a difference between both machines. 

On a treadmill, the belt under your feet moves and helps you move and run. Its speed enables you to increase your running speed. However, on elliptical machines, you need to roll and move the belt under your feet with the motion of your feet. 

Hence, you can adjust your running speed accordingly on an elliptical machine.

Treadmill Versus Elliptical Trainer: The Best One for Arthritis

Although you can adjust the running speed on the treadmill, once acclimated, you cannot control it from your foot. As a result, an arthritis patient can end up exhausting his knees and joints. Therefore, many physiologists and orthopedics suggest that an elliptical trainer is the best for arthritis patients. 

The reason is apparent; you can control running speed or belt speed with your foot’s movement. In addition to this, the posture remains correct on an elliptical trainer as you place the complete foot on the belt. 

This flexibility helps you put less pressure on your knees. Consequently, there is lesser pain and more workout in elliptical machines for arthritis patients. 

Is There Any Safe Treadmill for Knees?

Is There Any Safe Treadmill for Knees

Well, we cannot entirely discard the idea of using treadmills. There is no harm in running on a treadmill. It is suitable for weight loss and even for blood flow. However, it is the posture that we need to focus on. 

To state the truth, almost all treadmills are safe for knees. It is all about how you are placing your feet on the belt while running on the treadmill. If you place your feet correctly, you can avoid pain in your knees and lower limb area.

Do They Make Your Joints Strong?

Arthritis patients complain about the swelling in joints and knees. This happens mainly due to lesser or low blood flow in arteries around the knees. As a result of which, the tissues of joints get less nourishment. This causes the joints and knees to swell.  

However, if you work out properly and do exercises to increase blood flow around the knees, this problem can be addressed. Running on a treadmill or even on an elliptical machine increases blood flow in lower body nerves. That, as a result, provides sufficient nourishment to joints and bone tissues. Thus, it lowers the chances of swelling joints and knees.

What Is the Alternative to A Treadmill/Elliptical Machine?

The shortest answer is, walk and jog. 

Though none of these can replace the benefits of treadmills and elliptical machines, it is better to keep moving your feet. This way, you can improve blood circulation in your lower limb area. Thus, making it less prone to arthritis and joint-related issues.  

However, there are the following benefits of jogging and running:

  • You can increase or decrease your running speed as it is not dependent on any machine
  • It is healthy to walk and run-in open areas, like parks, as it is suitable for overall health
  • You can dedicatedly work on other parts of the body instead of focusing on only cardio
  • Jogging and running help you maintain a better posture which you might not be able to do while running on a treadmill


Treadmills are the ideal solution for indoor cardio. Just spare 30 minutes a day to run on the treadmill; you will see overwhelming results in your body. Also, it is a healthy exercise, after which you won’t need additional exercise.

However, if you are performing this exercise in the wrong way, the chances are that you might end up hurting your knees. Most of the time, people only place their toes on the belt of the treadmill. It leads to pain in the knees. Thus, if you are thinking that running on a treadmill is bad for your knees. So, probably you will have to work on your body posture,

Both are good for joints, knees, and overall health, be it a treadmill or an elliptical machine. But just be focused while choosing, as it can save you from any lethal pain.

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