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Elliptical; isn't it suppose to be gentle on knees?

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Every time I've used the elliptical, I feel a very uncomfortable feeling in my knees. Especially my left one. I don't have problems in my knees normally though (at least not that I have noticed) and when running on the treadmill my knees feel fine.

Am I doing something wrong when on the elliptical? Or is this just normal?

Mostly I use the treadmill anyway but I wanted to be able to change things up a bit to prevent from getting bored.

The gym I go to is just a free fitness room for anyone living in our apartment complex, so there is no one working there who I can ask about the machines and if I use them right.



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Well the last time i used the elliptical The trainer of my gym Told me that i was stretching to much my knees. The next day, i woke up with my knees purple.

The elliptical reduces the amount of impact, but it forces your legs to move in a certain pattern. It could be that this particular machine has a longer stride length than you're used to, or the decks could be a little too far apart for you to be comfortable. Try it a few more times, but stop immediately if you start experiencing pain of any sort.

That's a good point, if your position on the machine is unnatural for your gait - your legs are too far apart or the stride is too long, it will cause pain.  I have had that problem with some machines where my feet were too far apart.  Switch machines if you can, use another brand or design and see how that works.

I have noticed that when I use the elliptical at my apartment complex's fitness room it just isn't as good of a machine as I would have liked.  Perhaps the machine you used isn't as high quality, sometimes the lower quality machines do little to reduce the impact on your knees.  Sometimes when I'm using my own elliptical at home I realize that I'm uncomfortable and it's because I'm not using proper form.  Sometimes when I'm fatigued I find myself not moving my legs in a fluid motion which puts pressure on my knees.  I guess you could check yourself for proper form ensuring that your not slamming down on the elliptical foot beds, but moving in a smooth motion.

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Make sure you are positioning your feet with your knees( straight)
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If you want to minimize overall damage to your knees, just run. Our bodies are built to be the best long-distance runners on the planet, and long-term knee injury is much more likely to happen to bikers (whose motion is similar to an elliptical's) than runners.

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Does your gym have an arc trainer? Ellipticals have always bored the crap out of me, but now with a knee injury, I have to be a little more careful with cardio. I really like arc trainers, and it's an easier movement on your knees, supposedly. Also, newer ellipticals allow you to modify the stride, which might also help

I'm an x-runner. I've had a knee and hip replacement already and need the other knee done. So I don't know that I agree. Yea, I'm a bit overweight and worked on my feet 8-12 hours a day on cement floors but I see a lot of people overweight that don't have knee problems.  Maybe running on soft surfaces like cushioned tracks would be good.  I don't think we were created to run on cement!! ha ha


Also, we were not meant to run in shoes. Our feet were meant to support our legs-not NIKE

Pushing rearward with a nearly straight leg can definitely bug your knees. I've had that problem from power walking gentle inclines outdoors. The solution for me was to do some quad specific exercises (to equalize strength with my hamstrings and glutes). Some ellipticals can go to steep inclines, which may help (more quad involved, and your leg isn't as straight the whole time). The arctrainer goes super steep, and has a very different path than ellipticals.


I am just shy of 6'2" tall, so the stride on the eliptical is the opposite for me -- too short.  As a result, I found it was rather hard on my knees and hips as I attempted to make up for the awkwardness of an unnatural movement.  To compensate, I increase the pitch and the resistance of the stride and it really helps (and it burns more calories).  To me, this mimics running uphill where I would naturally take shorter, more powerful strides.

Just play with the settings.  See if it helps.


Thanks for the replies everyone.  I did actually figure out how to make it more comfortable by playing with the settings. Basically I think I didn't stretch my legs enough when on the machine, because by messing with that setting the discomfort went away.

I have had a knee replacement, and still need the other one done so all your replies you got may help me if I try too!!!


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