How Do You Protect Your Knees on a Treadmill?

Running makes high impacts on knees and creates issues if you are not careful. Moreover, you have to be more careful in case of any history of knee pain.

So, how do you protect your knees on a treadmill? Well, if you are jogging or running, then it’s crucial to maintain the right form and technique.

But, this is not it. Read further to know all the tips to protect your lower body joints while running.

How the Treadmill Impacts Knees?


How the treadmill impacts knees

Have you ever analyzed your movement? You might be surprised to know that you absorb hundreds of pounds of pressure with each step. Start running and this intensity goes even higher.

When you force the strides, the pressure increases, and you have to absorb all of them. Your ankles are the first joint to take the jerks, but your knees are taking more damage.

Hence, the chances of knee pain treadmill increase. The running style differs according to the person. But, most of the users run on their toes on a treadmill.

When you run on the toes, it means your knees are bent to a large extent when your feet land on the belt. Plus, the constant speed on a treadmill with built-in tv is unnatural.

Hence, the pressure prolongs and deteriorates your knees. So, it is better to land on your mid-foot to reduce the impacts.

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How Do You Protect Your Knees on a Treadmill?


protect your knees on a treadmill

Pick the right treadmill

Invest in a treadmill with a high-quality cushion and keep it maintained. If you are visiting a gym, then choose a functional treadmill.

Check multiple machines to make sure you enjoy soft landings. These fitness machines are not as soft as grass, but they make minimal impacts on your knees because of the cushion.

However, over time after regular usage, the treadmill loses the jerk absorbing abilities. So, try to pick something relatively new.

Warm-up before stepping on your treadmill

Stretching is the best way to loosen joints and all your muscles. So, spent some time warming up your body before starting the workout. (know details from fitness blog)

Afterward, start jogging or running at a slow speed for the first 3 to 5 minutes. Speed up your movement once you feel charged and confident. Walk or run at the center of your treadmill. Also, focus on your steps and oxygen intake.

Drink lots of water

Our body comprises approx. 60 percent water. Even the bones contain 31 percent, and joint cartilage contains 75 percent of water. So, your body suffers a lot if your water level is low.

Hence, drink a glass of water before starting the workout sessions. Plus, keep drinking water during your physical activities.
Prefer to walk instead of running

Walking is better, especially if you already dealing with knee pain. So, walk at a speed of 3 or maybe 4 mph. Such an activity improves your cardiovascular system and strengthens the lower body. Start by walking for 10 to 15 minutes initially.

Once you are comfortable on an apartment treadmill, increase the walk time to 20 minutes and keep adding 5 minutes every week. For instance, if you are walking for 20 minutes for the 1st week, try for 25 minutes in the 2nd.

Wear the right shoes

Prefer walking or running shoes. The right pair of shoes can reduce the amount of pressure on your knees. So, make sure the footwear fits and has a base of comfortable cushioning.

Choose footwear according to the size of your feet. If you are dealing with any knee or lower body-related troubles, then get a recommendation from your doctor.

Manage your weight

If you put on a lot of weight, your ankles, knees, and hips are in danger. Because they have to carry the extra weight while you walk, jog or run. Your legs have to withstand around 6 to 7 times of your heft while running.

So, do not start running immediately if you were out of practice for a lot of many months. As we discussed earlier, start by walking and then run once your body adapts to the new movements.

Shorten your stride

If you want to stay safe from knee pain from running on a treadmill, then shorten your strides. Small strides mean your feet will land under your body. Don’t think you will cover a longer distance with the help of longer strides.

Instead, taking your leg too forward while jogging or running can ruin your alignment and make adverse effects on your hips as well as knees. On the contrary, short strides help you to walk, jog or run more so that you can cover more distance without any risk.

Maintain good posture

Keep your body straight while walking, jogging, or running on a folding treadmill. In other words, keep your torso centered right above your pelvis. Don’t lean forward, because it makes an improper form and misbalances your body. Plus, leaning forward while running makes significant impacts on your knees.

Instead of leaning forward, it’s better to keep your spine straight, lift your chest, and elongate all the abdomen muscles to keep your knees safe. Plus, keep your shoulders away from the ears.

Do not use high inclines

Most of the treadmill comes with incline levels between 0.5 to 20 percent. But, it’s better to use the treadmill at low inclines, especially if your knees are not strong enough. There are chances of knee pain treadmill incline if you are moving on a high gradient.

Running on a treadmill with a high gradient is fun and challenging, but it’s not favorable for your knees. At sharp slopes, your ankle joints don’t move much and both your knees carry your body weight for the distance. So, we suggest that you focus on an incline level within 3 percent.

Avoid overdoing the workout

Your body needs up to 8 weeks to adapt to new physical activities. So, you might feel pain, stiffness, and some welling in the initial days. But, all these barriers will leave your body within a few days.

Do not try to walk or run for extended durations without taking any breaks. Little pain in the muscles is common after doing a workout of 60 or 90 minutes. But, overdoing anything might result in severe treadmill knee pain.

Include cross-training in your workout

You might enjoy walking, jogging and running. But, you cannot ignore the importance and benefits of cross-training. Most of the beginners try to complete the distance without getting into the correct state. Avoid such a mistake.

So, include some cross-training and balance-boosting practices in your workout schedules. We suggest glute bridges, clamshells, thrusts, and sidestepping. Stand on one foot on an uneven surface like a foam pad or BOSU ball.

Keep your lower body strength to keep knee pain treadmill at bay. In addition, you can also take in some strength training in your routine.

Wear an orthotic device

If your knee has some strain or pain, which is making you uncomfortable, then use an orthotic device to support the joint. Stop wearing it once you start feeling better. Do not make a habit of using support devices if you are not dealing with any pain.

Consult a health professional

If you are experiencing frequent knee pain after working out, it’s better to consult a doctor. Talk to the experts even if you twist the ankles frequently. Also read the best treadmill under 600 dollras.

Frequently Asked Question


Is treadmill bad for your knees?

If the weather is not favorable, then you might be left with only one choice – to work out on the treadmill. However, some of the users miss the natural views and a few also complain that they are experiencing knee pain after running for a while on a treadmill.

Over-aggressive workouts might indeed take a toll on your knees, especially if you are recovering from an injury.

You absorb hundreds of pounds of pressure while walking. When you start running, the pressure increases, but your muscles and joints can take that.

So, are treadmills bad for knees? The answer is no. There are no chances of pain or injuries if you are following the right technique. It’s not applicable only on the treadmill, but for all the fitness machines and exercises.

Is walking on a treadmill bad for the knees?

Walking on a treadmill is not bad for your knees. Doctors suggest walking, jogging, and running on a treadmill if you had injuries in the knee. The treadmill is a low-impact fitness machine, especially if it has high-quality cushioning.

So, is walking on treadmill bad for knees? No is the simple answer. However, chances of knee pain or injury rise if you are using a manual treadmill without any shock absorbers, or you overdo the workout without following the right technique and posture.

Is running on a treadmill worse for your knees?

Running is one of the best exercises, but a lot of users think that it could be harmful if you are on a treadmill. Well, running on a treadmill is not bad for your joints, including your knees.

It’s safer to work out on a treadmill because running outdoors exerts more pressure on your knees because they have to constantly adjust to different types of grounds.

A treadmill makes running easy because of its shock-absorbing qualities. So, the impacts on your knees are minimal when you are running on a treadmill.

So, running on a treadmill is not worse for your knees until, and unless you run on a high incline continuously, your posture is incorrect or you are not taking any breaks while working out.

Can I do treadmill with knee pain?

Walking, jogging, or running on a treadmill with knee pain feels uncomfortable. But, these physical activities are better for the knees. Keeping your knees still can stiffen them to worsen the pain, which makes your daily activities difficult.

If you have osteoarthritis, walking on a treadmill lessens knee pain, improves your balance, and makes your body stronger. Plus, walking is a low-impact physical activity, which helps you to recover fast.

How to use a treadmill with bad knees?

Start slow and warm up your body. Walk for around 3 to 5 minutes and increase the speed if you don’t feel uncomfortable. Hold the handrails to maintain the balance initially. But, do not make a habit of taking support while working out on a treadmill. Apart from that, follow the given points.

Get ready: If are experiencing knee pain, then apply heat for approx. 20 minutes to relax the joint. You can also muffle a warm towel around your knees.

Wear running shoes: Pick an athletic shoe with a sole of at least 1 inch. Such a supportive pair of shoes support your ankles for comfortable running sessions. Thread the shoelace tightly to ensure a secure fit.

Select the right treadmill: Choose a full-size treadmill that has a comfortable workout surface with at least 20 inches of width. The recommended length is 50 inches. Make sure it has the following qualities
A high-quality cushioning system

  • Handrails on both sides. Only front ones are not helpful if you are dealing with a bad knee.
  • Safety clip that you can attach with your clothes. It stops the treadmill if you lose your balance.
  • An emergency button to stop the machine.
  • An easy-to-use console with a one-touch button for speed.

Warm-up: Before you step on the treadmill, do some light stretches to loosen your knees, other joints, and muscles.

Do not walk for a long time: Start with short walks. You can keep it as little as 5 minutes, especially if you were not working out lately. Increase the minutes once you start feeling comfortable. But, do not walk, jog or run for long without taking any breaks.

Final talk


Now you know how do you protect your knees on a treadmill? Consult your doctor before you start walking, jogging, or running on a treadmill, especially if have any problems related to the knees.

Do not use the fitness machine if you feel knee pain after running on the treadmill. Talk to a physician or health professional for help.

  • August 8, 2021
  • Blog
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