Is The Treadmill Bad For Your Knees?

Running on a treadmill is helpful in many ways; staying fit and losing weight being just a few. But this is not to say there aren’t downsides as well. For example, you won’t be able to enjoy your favourite scenic views while you’re taking a sprint in the comfort of your home gym or receive fresh air while running. The most important one, however, is that exercising on treadmills tends to affect people’s knees in unpleasant ways.

Though people are different, and treadmills may not affect everybody, in the same way, it has been found out that high-impact workouts on these machines can leave your knees with some pain. If you already have an injury, then the possibility of it affecting your knees is even higher.

That said, there are things you can do to lessen the effects or completely stop treadmill workouts from killing your knees. How can you do this? Find out below.

Understanding Treadmills And Knee Impact

Will you be going out for a walk or jog soon? If so, consciously study the way you move. James Shapiro, a fitness expert says that though you don’t realize it, you take in so many pounds of pressure as you take each step. However, anytime you increase that force by sprinting on your treadmill belt, your muscles and joints wind up absorbing all the extra impact and thus get affected.

Whenever you force a step and land, you automatically boost the intensity of pressure that you have to soak in. It doesn’t matter whether or not your ankles make the contact first, your knees are susceptible to the most damage. As a matter of fact, the force settles between the hips and the ankles and cause injury.

In the opinion of Jerry Snider who is an exercise psychologist, a person’s style of running does determine how the force will impact their knees. However, he adds that a lot of people like running on just their toes. This is the wrong thing to do.

Anytime you run like this, your knees become bent, especially the minute your foot land on the treadmill. This makes it take in more force easily which will obviously affect your knee. This is so different from when you’re running outside where things are a lot more natural. As a rule, always land on your mid-foot, it goes a long way in reducing impact.

Why Not Walk First?

Another way to save your lower body from pain while working out on your treadmill is by taking things slow. A leisurely walk session on your tread is not a bad idea at all if you wish to keep using your exercising machine to stay fit.

Snider explains that a good number of people land on their whole foot whenever they’re walking normally. This style will keep your knees healthy. You can try it for a while on your treadmill till you master it and learn to do the same as you run.

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Pay Attention To Your Posture

According to Katie Dunlop, a fitness instructor, many people keep having troubles with their treadmill workouts simply because they never pay attention to their posture. Running on your treadmill and watching your favorite TV show at the same time is low-key wreaking havoc.

This is because it causes you to distort your posture as you run. So, what is the right posture? Katie says, your shoulders must be pulled downwards far from your two ears, your core must be engaged, and you must always stand tall, so your body remains aligned.

Make Cross-Training a Priority

No matter how much you love and enjoy running, for the sake of your health and safety, introduce cross-training to your exercise—and prioritize it too. Lauren Lober, a therapist, strongly suggests this.

Running is good, it helps with weight loss. However, your body also needs to build strength and balance. By doing both treadmill running exercises and non-treadmill related exercises that can strengthen you and improve your balance, you’ll have a better chance of developing more healthily.

Some good workouts include glute bridges, clamshells, sidestepping and hip thrusts. Also, you can try standing on a single foot on a rough surface. Keep your hips and knees strengthened and you will be healing or preventing knee pains

Take it Easy

Sometimes you just have to go easy on yourself. Granted, there are pounds to be shed and endurance to be built. However, this may be the point where you calm down and take things slow, especially if you’re already battling with a knee injury.

If you focus on doing long but slow runs, you’ll find a stride that is natural for you without all that extra intensity and tension. This way, you give your knees a break and minimize additional damage.

Snider also suggests that you close your eyes while jogging or walking on your treadmill. This is obviously somewhat dangerous but if you can pull it off, it’ll help a lot. You can support yourself by placing your hands on the rails. The idea behind this is to find your ideal strike and pace without distractions.

Find Your Perfect Running Shoes

Want to improve your treadmill running game? Get fitted for your own running shoes! Dunlop strongly advises it. You can simply walk into an athletic store near you, consult with their professional and they’ll recommend shoes that’ll do your knees and body justice. Plus, they can give you valuable advice on how to get your feet to feel more comfortable.

When you wear the right pair of shoes, you’ll notice a big difference in how your body feels during and after workouts. They go a long way in elimination pains.


It is true that running on a treadmill time and again can affect your knees over time. However, as you’ve read, there are ways to work around that.

You don’t have to go through knee pains just because you want to up your treadmill running game. Always be conscious of your form, your posture, and your strides. Correct anything that feels unnatural as early as possible. If pains persist, go to your doctor for assistance.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2024