Elliptical Benefits for Sore Knees

Elliptical Benefits for Sore Knees

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Knee pain can slow down, or even completely halt, an exercise program.

Barry Austin/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Elliptical machines offer a low-impact alternative to walking or jogging, making it an ideal piece of exercise equipment if you have sore knees. Training on an elliptical machine offers similar health benefits to working out on a treadmill - calories burned, muscle stimulation, stronger lungs and heart -- but without the added stress on your knees. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting an elliptical workout program.

Benefits Galore

Elliptical exercise strengthens the quadriceps, glutes and hips more effectively than walking on level ground or a flat treadmill. Recovery following an elliptical training workout is quicker compared to recovering from a jogging workout since it's a lower impact form of exercise. Elliptical training also can help alleviate certain types of knee pain, including patellafemoral arthralgia, chondromalacia patella and IT Band Syndrome.

Scientific Study

A 2008 study conducted at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago tested 13 individuals suffering from knee pain to see if elliptical training helped improve symptoms. The results showed improved lower limb function and less knee pain. The conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that elliptical exercise can, in some cases, have a beneficial effect for knee pain sufferers.

It's Not Right in Every Case

Although elliptical exercise can help alleviate knee pain in many cases, as previously discussed, there are certain instances where it may not be beneficial. If you suffer from patellar tendonitis, check with your doctor before training with an elliptical because it may not be good for your knees. Likewise, pain on the ball of your feet or hip and buttock pain may become aggravated during elliptical exercise. In general, avoid any exercise that aggravates existing injuries or chronic pain you have in your knees or ligaments.

Knee Pain Elliptical Workout

The last thing you want to do is re-aggravate your knee pain, so start out slow. Use one of the lowest resistance levels on the elliptical machine, and do just five minutes each day for the first week. Increase your workout time by five minutes the following week. Continue adding five minutes to your workout until you hit 20 minutes. At that point, you start increasing the resistance level of the machine a bit to help build strength in your knees and muscles. The key to avoiding pain during a workout is to use good technique - keep your back straight, head looking forward, and feet planted on the pedals. If you ever experience knee pain during the exercise, stop right away to avoid further injury.