Are Elliptical Machines Bad For Your Knees? [2023]

Keeping your body in movement is always a good option to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For that, many prefer jogging or walking and many choose gym machines for exercise. An elliptical machine is a worthy choice for walking or jogging alternatives. But one more question arises when thinking of elliptical machines ‘Are elliptical machines bad for your knees?’

Are Elliptical Machines Bad For Your Knees

Well, the answer can be both. An elliptical machine has got its own cons whereas it also depends on the user. A wrong way of using it can result in painful knees and aching back.  But the proper usage of this machine rather helps to mitigate your old knee pains. As you can see, both answers have got their own reason.


The best way to find out the answer is to check out the probable drawbacks of an elliptical machine. Despite being a low-impact machine, ellipticals have certain drawbacks which you must know before taking the first step with this machine. For that, continue reading the whole passage.

Hazards Of Using An Elliptical Machine

Going straight to the cons of using an elliptical machine will give the idea about the practical situation when using it. And it will also help you to follow the precautions correctly so that you do not end up injuring yourself. One of the common injuries, when an elliptical machine is not used correctly, is having a bad knee at the end of the day.


Separation Between Foot & Pedal:

One of the biggest disadvantages of an elliptical machine is the separation between its foot and pedal. For this reason, there are frequent cases of slippage or lift-off of the foot. Slippage causes your foot to slip off the pedal which may happen due to lack of friction between your foot and the pedal.

The foot pedal is far too bigger than a human foot, this is to give your foot a larger surface area so that you feel comfortable when using it but unfortunately it also increases the chance of slipping as friction is reduced. Slipping off can cause many injuries such as back pain or you may hurt your legs. But mostly it can cause knee pain as you are most likely to fall on your knees.

Lift Off:

Lift-off can be a problem too. Sometimes when your foot is not adjusted to the foot pedal but still you are exercising at some point you may lose your grip and fall off. The motion of the machine causes inertia which may cause you to fall down if your feet do not grip tightly to the ground (foot pedal). Lift-off can be more dangerous than slippage as it practically throws you off the machine and improper position of the fall may cause serious injuries such as knee pain.

But these two problems can be avoided if you use gym shoes which cause greater friction eventually increasing the grip reducing the chances of fall-off or slippage. Minimizing the speed of the machine will also help in not falling off as there is less inertia.

Improper Foot Strap:

One of the other reasons behind hurting yourself when using an elliptical machine is the improper use of foot strap. Foot straps help your feet to hold firmly on the pedal, reducing the chances of slipping off. After adjusting the foot strap, if you are able to move your foot a centimeter or more in any direction then you did not adjust your foot strap correctly and there is a high chance of slipping or falling off the machine.

On the other hand, if the foot strap is too tight there blood circulation may be hampered and after a while you may begin to feel pale. This may cause serious injuries too. When you adjust your foot strap make sure it’s tight but not rough. Not adjusting the foot strap correctly can be the cause of many injuries including knee pain.

Over Training:

Over training is probably one of the perfect answers of ‘Are elliptical machines bad for your knees?’. Most people actually think that training hard is good, but overtraining is not just bad but may be worse than normal body aching. Your training is limited by your age and so is your body performance and overtraining can make it worse.

When you exercise too much your muscle works much harder than normal which results in primary body aching. Although most of it recovers and some negligible injuries remain but the result of overtraining pops only after weeks of doing it or even months. This may cause the ball and socket in the knees joint to be damaged which may cause severe pain for the rest of the life.

How To Use An Elliptical Machine Correctly?

Most of the minor injuries start from not using the elliptical machine correctly. An improper position or misuse of a certain part may lead to injuries such as back and knee pain. Here is how to use an elliptical machine correctly.


Attaining Position:

Before starting to exercise in an elliptical machine you must learn how to position yourself in the elliptical machine. For that follow these steps.

Getting On Board:

Getting on board may be a bit annoying as the pedals start to move right away. But the correct way to get on board is to grab the stationary handlebars, then place a foot on the pedal so that you do not fall off.

Support Your Feet:

Most elliptical machines come up with large size foot pedals. This is to allow your feet to be comfortable while using the machine also as different foot sizes may vary. But if you tilt your feet in the wrong way this may end up straining your hips. To avoid that, keep your feet parallel to the edges of the pedals.

Keep Your Back Straight:

Keeping your spinal cord straight plays a major role in using the elliptical machine correctly. Grub in your abdominals and push the pelvis a bit. Keeping your head straight aligning with the spinal cord helps to avoid any spinal cord aching.

Position Your Arms:

Almost all elliptical machines have two sets of handlebars. One of them is the stationary handle and another one is moving handlebars which you can grab onto if you want to move your upper body too. But the main point is to grab the handles lightly. Most people grab it too tightly. Also, remember to pull your shoulders slightly down and back.

Start moving:

Now that you have positioned yourself, start pedaling! You must ensure a proper balance when you’re taking the first swing, otherwise, you may fall into trouble.

Pedal Forward:

Once you’ve grabbed the handlebars, start pedaling forward. Bend your knees a bit when moving, this helps to increase speed and keep tension on the quads, maximizing muscle strength benefits. Moreover, if you keep your feet locked straight it will ache after a moment and doing exercise would be uncomfortable.

It’s more like running, you don’t keep your feet straight while running, right? That’s it.

Challenge Your Muscles:

Now set your resistance level. The higher the resistance level you’ll adjust the harder it will be for you to run thus your muscles will work harder and the product is a muscular body. Remember to keep your motion smooth throughout the exercise and the whole running process should gain an oval motion.

Continue This Way:

Now that your resistance level is set keep running to your best. Most sessions last 30-35 mins but initially, it can be 20 minutes. You may increase or decrease the resistance level but do not stop running. Do it during running. Nothing should hamper your running motion.

How To Choose A Right Elliptical Machine For You?

Congratulations! Now you fully know how to use an elliptical machine. Keeping in mind of all the tips you can now avoid any injuries like knee pain. So go and train your muscles. But if you are thinking which elliptical machine is good for you, you’ll need a proper buying guide.


There are a few things that you need to consider before buying an elliptical machine. They are—

The Fly Wheel Weight

It is one of the main criteria of an elliptical machine. If the flywheel weight is less you will be able to attain a certain speed easily which is NOT our main target. If you attain the maximum speed easily then your muscles would not work hard. So to get your muscle work hard the flywheel weight should be quite heavy. Here are some categories.

  • 21 kg: for professionals who use the elliptical machine 2-3 times a day.
  • 11-21 kg: For frequent users who use it 1-3 times a week.
  • 7-10 kg: For occasional users who use it 1-2 times a month.

The Stride Length

The stride is also one of the important things to consider. The stride length determines the amplitude of your leg motion; that is how high your leg will rise during the movement. The target is to have a stride length that raises your leg in a perfect manner. Too much or too low a leg raise will not help much thus it will not be efficient. A stride length of 40 cm is generally recommended.


Mechanical and magnetic resistance are the two options to increase or decrease the resistance. For the mechanical one, you have to turn the wheel to fluctuate the resistance.

For a magnetic one, you can directly modify it from the front screen. The magnetic resistance is recommended as it is easier to handle.


Most elliptical machines come with a Bluetooth console while some don’t. Bluetooth console allows you to connect your device wirelessly with your phone in which you can monitor your speed and your resistance level on your phone. In a manual console you have to do it on the screen. A Bluetooth console is recommended.

Front Wheel Or Back Wheel Trainer

Generally elliptical trainers come up with a back wheel, while some come with front wheels and some contain both. But one cannot say which one is better than what for each has its own benefits and cons. But if you are still confused go for the back wheel one.

Maximum User Weight

The weight of the elliptical trainer and the maximum weight capacity are directly connected. The more the weight of the machine the more weight it can carry. Medium and high-end machines have a weight of 130-150 kg and can carry up to 90-100 kg. Usually a medium elliptical machine is recommended.

Price Of The Bike

All that matters is the quality for which the price is registered. Elliptical machines have this straight comment: A cheap elliptical machine will not have the best features. An elliptical machine below 200 or 300 $ will not have the same pedaling comfort as more expensive ones. So unfortunately or fortunately there is now way to get a good machine at a low price.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few more things that you should know about an elliptical. We are answering some questions about ellipticals which will further help you enhance the experience with your machine. Here are the answers—

Are ellipticals bad for hips?

Ellipticals aren’t bad for hips, rather it is super beneficial if you have hip arthritis. It doesn’t exert much for on the joint while working out, which is a really great thing for arthritis. Plus it helps to correct your posture which further benefits the hip.

What exercises are bad for knees?

If you already have a bad knee, certain exercises like squatting, jumping, lunging, stretching can further deteriorate your knee condition. Even if you don’t have any knee problems, make sure you’re taking proper precautions before starting these exercises and follow proper instructions.

Does elliptical count as steps?

You can count your elliptical counts as steps if you have a proper fitness tracker with you. Certain fitness trackers like FitBit or Apple Watch can automatically detect elliptical workouts and keep track of it accordingly.

How to protect knees on elliptical?

The first thing about protecting your knees on an elliptical is stopping right when you feel even the slightest discomfort while using the machine. You must use the elliptical correctly to avoid any side effects, and most importantly, buy an elliptical with a proper stride length that fits your height.

Are ellipticals bad for joints?

The best part about using an elliptical is this machine has an extremely low impact, which means it won’t cause much side effects to your body. If you use the machine for too long than recommended, your joints might be tired and aching. But that won’t happen if you use the machine as per instruction.

Wrapping It Up

So ‘Are elliptical machines bad for your knees?’ I hope you got your answer by now. It all depends on how you use it and it also depends a little bit on your age and if you have any previous health issues.

I hope this article helped you to get a proper answer and clear some confusion in your mind. Proper use will not lead you to damaged knees. Looks like it’s time to get to training again. Have fun & keep grinding!

William Gordon

Hi! William Gordon here, I'm a 33 years old fitness trainer with an avid interest in the human body. Working at several gyms for almost 8 years, I can say I'm pretty content with my profession of changing the lives of people. The happiness that I see in people's eyes after guiding them to pull off a successful body transformation really inspired me to open this blog site. Making people happy & comfortable is my job & I think I can do my job better by promoting fitness & comfort through this blog. Keep grinding!

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