There is some debate over whether or not treadmills are bad for your knees.

Some people argue that the impact of running on a treadmill can be hard on your knees, while others argue that the adjustable incline and support of a treadmill can actually be beneficial for knee health.

So, are treadmills bad for your knees? 

Keep reading for more information.

Are Treadmills Bad For Your Knees? How Running On A Treadmill Affects Your Knees

is treadmill bad for knees

Running on a treadmill is easier for your knees than overground running. A treadmill has shock absorption which decreases the impact and stress on your knees. As long as you are properly aligned and maintain a good posture, running on a treadmill won’t cause knee pain or overuse injuries.

The complex network of joints that make up the knees is called the “Network of Joints”. They can therefore bear more weight which leaves them susceptible to injury. Running, which is a high-impact exercise, puts a lot of stress on the knees. These repetitive activities leave a permanent stain. Running hard can lead to knee injuries.

Treadmill running is less impactful than outdoor running. A treadmill also allows for faster stride rates and shorter stride durations. A report suggests that this can have less stress and impact your weight-bearing joints.

Moderate exercise, such as running on a treadmill, can benefit Osteoarthritis. It doesn’t worsen symptoms or cause disease progression. According to a report, OA affects more than 200 million people around the world. This group can get rid of their knee pains through a low-impact exercise program.

A second study showed that light exercise results in healthier knee cartilage. A low-impact cardio exercise such as treadmill running is beneficial for arthritis-prone knees.

It will first strengthen the muscles around the knees. This will decrease the wear and tear on your cartridge and reduce pressure on your knee joints. It will also encourage weight loss and reduce stress on your knees. The workout will also increase blood flow to the cartridge. It will help them stay healthy and provide them with vital nutrients.

Aside from these benefits, it is essential to exercise caution when using a treadmill. Particularly if you have osteoarthritis symptoms, you should not increase the intensity of your workouts. For example, increasing the speed on your treadmill can put more strain on your knees. This could cause more pain and irritation in your knee joints.

Treadmill Running vs. Outside

Treadmill Running vs. Outside

In 2019, a study was conducted to determine if treadmill running is biomechanically equivalent to running overground. This research involved 33 participants examining the differences between running outside and on treadmills.

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This research revealed that treadmill and overground running have similar muscle activity and muscle-tendon levels. These differences can be seen in the measurements of foot strike, knee flexion range of motion, and vertical displacement (how high your body bounces up and down while running).

Researchers made the following points to show that running on a treadmill has a lower impact on your knees than running outside.

Running on a treadmill had a significantly lower vertical displacement than running on all surfaces.

Some situations can benefit from treadmill running biomechanics for knee rehab or training. The treadmill’s less rigid surface is better for rehabilitation with lower vertical loading rates than stiff overground surfaces.

Running on a treadmill has shown that the soleus and gastrocnemius have higher muscle forces, making them suitable for rehabilitation from lower limb stress fractures.

Running at a relatively steady speed (treadmill belt speed) has been shown to reduce the propulsive force.

Running on a treadmill produces a lower impact on the knees, which results in lower braking forces.

Read full our comparison: Running On Treadmill Vs Outside

Choose The Best Treadmill Belt For You

The right treadmill belt will give your knees and legs more comfort and cushioning. The thickness of the treadmill belt is a critical factor in determining how much impact your knees have on the treadmill and whether or not you can comfortably run on it. The treadmill belt is what the runner is directly touching with their feet.

When choosing the thickness of the treadmill belt, you should consider how much grip it can offer and how much impact it will have on your knee joints. Treadmill belts can be divided into three types depending on their thickness.

Single Ply: A treadmill belt made from a single piece of rubber

2-Ply: The treadmill belt’s upper part is made from high-quality PVC rubber, while the lower side is made of cotton, monofilament and polyester

3-Ply: An additional layer of rubber was added to provide “cushioning”.

The 2-Ply treadmill belt is the best for running. It’s made from high-quality PVC rubber that can provide sufficient grip while you run, and the cotton on the underside reduces the impact on your knees. The treadmill’s noise can be reduced by using cotton.

A treadmill belt with 3-Ply might not be the best choice. The extra layer is heavier for the motor to work, which can have a negative impact on its durability.

The most important thing is that the additional layer can cause the treadmill belt to become too soft to use and make it challenging to maintain a good posture, putting unnecessary strain on your knees.

Knee Pain On The Treadmill But Not Outside

Running on a treadmill can cause knee pain for some people, but it is not common outside. The treadmill provides better grip than other surfaces and shock absorption.

Running on the treadmill can cause tighter calves due to fatigue. You cannot change your speed or pace, and you may feel tighter. In some cases, muscle fatigue can cause pain or discomfort in the knees.

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Another reason that running on a treadmill can cause knee pain is that some people lead their legs too far out, which can cause the treadmill to push against their knees. Experts recommend that people ensure their foot is under the treadmill’s surface and not in front.

Is The Treadmill’s Incline Too Steep For Your Knees?

Is it possible for a treadmill to cause knee pain by inclining? Is it wrong for your knees to run uphill on a treadmill?

The short answer is no. The treadmill should not be set at low to zero inclines. This is bad for your legs and knees. Research shows that a tread belt propels people forward. This can cause them to land their foot in front of their bodies, leading to knee injuries.

Philip Riches, a Scottish expert, also stated that running on a treadmill without an incline can cause runners to keep their knees straight. When the knees are straight, they can’t absorb impact as well.

You can set the treadmill’s incline at +1 to 2% to simulate running overground. Your knee will naturally land under your body to ensure proper running posture. Running on a treadmill with a 1-2% incline will not cause injury to your knees.

How to Avoid Knee Pain While Running on a Treadmill

is running on a treadmill bad for your knees

A treadmill can be an excellent option for running outdoors. However, the treadmill can inflict injury on your knees if it isn’t used correctly. However, this doesn’t mean treadmill running causes knee pain. However, it can lead to other injuries if you misuse it.

There are many ways to avoid these injuries. These include:

1. Good Posture is Important

Good posture is essential for maintaining good muscle conditions. Your body should be natural when you run on the treadmill. Importantly, don’t overexert your joints or stress them more than necessary. Avoid the treadmill exerciser’s tendency to run vertically.

Instead, keep your posture natural and forward-leading. This reduces the chance of experiencing leg pain while running on the treadmill.

2. Proper Running Shoes are Essential

Before going on a treadmill, make sure that your shoes are appropriate. You should ensure that your running shoes fit correctly. This will protect your feet from being injured by the shoe.

However, I recommend that you replace your shoes after 300-500 miles. Running shoes are lighter and wear faster.

They are not suitable for intense workouts, but regular tennis shoes can also be worn as casual footwear. They may not be able to absorb the impact on the treadmill’s surface.

On the other hand, running shoes are very effective at absorbing shock. Running shoes absorb shock less effectively, so your knee joints and muscles are more resilient to impact.

3. Moderation is Key

The best treadmill for bad knees is often bought by people who want to lose weight or stay fit. Many people put too much stress on their bodies than they need. This can lead to strained muscles and irritated knees.

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This will prevent you from getting frustrated. Increase your speed, duration, distance, and pace over time. This will allow your muscles to adjust to the workouts. Treadmill-related injuries can be exacerbated. You can also increase the speed or incline of your treadmill too fast.

Particularly if you have an injury, avoid running on the treadmill for extended periods. Keep your running sessions short, no more than 30 minutes each session. This will decrease wear and tear on your knees and reduce injury risk.

HIIT is great for treadmill running. HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It is less demanding and more productive. It allows your muscles and joints to relax. Stop if your body isn’t feeling right.

4. Pay Attention To The Inclines

A treadmill with a 0% incline is not suitable for your knees. The treadmill simulates running downhill at a 0% gradient. This puts more strain on your knees and patellar tendon, leading to knee injuries. Your muscles will have to work harder to control and balance your movements. Overuse of the knee muscles can lead to injuries.

This will make it easier to overcome the challenge. This simulates outdoor conditions and will make you feel like you are running outdoors.

5. Warm-up & Cooldown

Cold muscles lack flexibility and blood flow. It is vital to warm up your muscles before you place stress on them with exercise. Walking slowly for 10 minutes is a great warm-up. Next, do various motion exercises and static stretching.

After completing your treadmill run, it’s a good idea to cool off. You can prevent your muscles from getting tighter quickly by cooling down after completing your run on the treadmill. You can cool your muscles by running or walking slowly towards the end of your workout. Stretch your lower back, legs and hips to increase flexibility.

6. Minimize Impact

When running on a treadmill, try to reduce the stress and impact on your knees. Your stride should be quick and short. Likewise, you should lift your feet when running. The treadmill belt will transfer less force to your legs this way.

Rotating your pelvis to each idea is a great idea. Also, your hip should be pulled back along with your hip. This allows the lower body’s vertical axis to rotate. This rotation absorbs shock when each foot hits the treadmill belt.


Treadmills are a common piece of cardio equipment found in gyms and homes across the world. Though they provide a great workout, some people worry that they may be bad for their knees. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide what is best for their own body.

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