Finding the best exercise equipment for bad knees is crucial to reduce pain and help you in your recovery journey. If you suffer from knee pain, you know it can hold you back from doing the things you enjoy most. Even bending down, taking the stairs, and doing your favorite activities can become painful and frustrating.
One of the best ways to relieve knee pain is through safe and effective exercise. In fact, Harvard Medical School reports that strengthening the muscles around your knees through effective exercise can help support the joints and reduce pain.
Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. John Steedman, explains that low-impact exercise is an essential part of rehabilitation after knee injury or surgery. Watch the video to hear how strength and cardio exercise help to restore range of motion and reduce joint inflammation.
So, what exercises should you do to strengthen your knees and find pain relief?
First off, it’s important to know what NOT to do, especially if you’re trying to stay fit and healthy at home. We’ve outlined the dos and don’ts of home exercise machines and provided an answer for one of the most commonly asked questions:
What is the best exercise equipment for bad knees?
If your bad knees stem from knee replacement surgery, arthritis, ACL tear, tendonitis, dislocation, or any other painful cause, it’s important to select the best exercise equipment to avoid worsening your symptoms or preventing healing.
Consider the motion of your legs and knees during your workout:
- Are you bending your knees repeatedly?
- Are you placing a lot of weight and impact on the joints as you move?
- Are you pushing your body to do movements that don’t feel good?
- Do you feel increased pain after your workout?
If so, you’ll want to re-think your exercise routine and explore more knee-friendly, zero-impact exercise machines that support the joints while giving you a great cardio and strength workout. But first, let’s cover why high-impact machines are causing you so much pain.
How Treadmills and Stairmasters Can Cause Knee Pain
Treadmills and Stairmasters are big ‘don’ts’ for people who suffer from knee pain. The consistent impact of running on a treadmill puts severe stress on your ankles, knees, and hip joints and can even lead to joint conditions like arthritis.
Walking on a treadmill is less impactful, but your knees still bear all your body weight for a long period of time which puts stress on the joint. You’ll also miss out on the benefits of cardio and strength training exercise by reducing speed and exertion.
Stairmasters isolate body weight onto one knee at a time and require a severe flexion of the joint, making it a high-impact and painful exercise for knee pain sufferers.
Additionally, treadmills and Stairmasters engage only one muscle group, so you’ll reach muscle fatigue more easily and give up on your workout faster. This means you’ll actually get less calorie burn and reduced benefits from exercise!
Why Ellipticals Are Hard on the Knees
Ellipticals are considered a ‘low-impact’ cardio machine because they don’t require you to pick up your feet and place your full weight back down on them. Many ellipticals also include handles that integrate arm movements for more stability and full-body exercise.
However, ellipticals still require your knees to be full weight-bearing and can place too much pressure on the joint, causing a flare up. The handles that engage the arms move along with your leg motions (they’re just going along for the ride) so you’re unable to isolate muscles and switch between upper and lower body exercise.
The Downsides of a Recumbent Bike
Recumbent exercise bikes are often thought to be one of the best exercise equipment options for bad knees because they feature a reclined seated position that reduces the weight load and impact on the knees.
Although this is an improvement to other weight-bearing machines, the repetitive circular, pedaling motion of a recumbent bike can cause knee shearing and inflammation.
A recumbent bike doesn’t engage your arms or core muscles, so you’ll burn less calories and miss out on the benefits of a combined upper body workout.
The Solution for Pain-Free Exercise? Try the FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer.
The FreeStep offers pain-free home exercise that strengthens and protects your knees. This knee-friendly cardio machine uses a smooth stepping motion that takes all the stress off the joints and still builds muscles and endurance.
It also distributes muscle exertion between your upper and lower body for an easier, more effective workout. You’ll get a great full body workout and burn more calories with less effort and less pain.
Just like machines you might have used in physical therapy, the FreeStep is designed for people who suffer from knee and joint pain but still want to maintain healthy, active lives. Plus, it’s a more affordable option if you’re looking for PT-quality exercise you can do every day from home and offers the same level of relief. In terms of quality, affordability, and effectiveness, the Teeter FreeStep is among the best exercise equipment for bad knees.
If you’re wondering how effective the FreeStep is, watch Nealie’s testimonial below. The FreeStep helped her transition from a broken knee cap to walking, exercising, and conquering the stairs, without any pain. To her, the FreeStep was a “lifesaver.”
*Always consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.