The Ultimate Guide To Treadmills For Bad Knees and How They Work
You want to get back on track – but you feel like your bad knees are holding you back?
You’re not alone. Knee arthritis is a deterioration in the joint cartilage. It’s a common disability for many people, and it can prevent them from fulfilling everyday activities – such as climbing stairs or even walking.
People need exercise – and most of us rely on readily available fitness apps to meet our goals. But for someone living with bad knees and joint pain, the choice of proper equipment – a treadmill for bad knees, for example – becomes crucial.
The right treadmill – one that has a running deck with a cushioning system – can make a difference. So, before making that choice, you should inquire about other specifications, too, such as weight capacity, speed range, incline, preset workout programs, and so on.
You should learn how these machines work, too.
On that note, if you’re looking for the best treadmill for bad knees – you just need to stay tuned.
Using A Treadmill If You Have Knee Joint Pain
Yes, working out with bad knees is allowed.
As long as you follow the advice of your doctor or therapist and don’t overdo it with your daily exercise routine, using indoor treadmills could do wonders for your health and speed up your recovery.
With things like this, it’s very important to keep in mind that there are several different models of treadmills – and not every type is suitable for people dealing with knee pain.
Plus, not all of them work the same.
It’s easy to get injured – especially if you already have joint pain.
So, before you actually set foot on your cushioned track for the next workout session, it’s best for you to learn the main differences between the best treadmill types and how do they work.
Types Of Treadmills
There are several main types of treadmills for bad knees. So, let’s go over them and briefly comment on each model, shall we?
1. Manual Treadmills
If you opt for a manual treadmill, you’re relying on the belt force and your own effort. Also, you get to set the level of incline.
With this type of treadmill, you have the option to go at your own pace – which is not so great if you’re the type of person that lacks motivation.
The belts are not that long, they’re a bit bulky, and that’s why they’re one of the cheaper options on the market.
2. Motorized Treadmills
Unlike the previous one, this type of treadmill for bad knees lets you set the pace, increase or decrease the degree of incline, and access different workout programs. The most notable difference between manual and motorized treadmills is that this type is much larger and needs a permanent location.
Does the robust feature make these treadmills bad for home use?
It depends on the free space in your home.
3. Folding Treadmills
What characterizes this type of treadmills and gives it a slight advantage over the others is that it has a folding deck and console – which makes it easier to transport and store in any corner of your home.
They’re usually motorized, easily portable – and they’ll save you a lot of space.
4. Commercial And Semi-Commercial Treadmills
What’s great about commercial treadmills is that they’re meant for 12-hour workouts – if that’s your cup of fitness tea.
Newer models generally come with a cushioned deck, interactive screens, and transport wheels. The only difference between commercial and semi-commercial models is the estimated time use:
Semi-commercial ones are originally meant for users that are not so keen on running all the time. If you’re the only one using the treadmill, you don’t need a commercial one.
5. Medical Treadmills
A medial treadmill is an excellent workout machine for someone who has suffered an injury and needs an alternative to their knee treatment. The workout intensity of these machines can be adjusted to the patient’s needs.
What’s more, these types of treadmills are excellent for tracking your blood flow and muscle tone; they usually feature built-in sensors.
Your health is your number one priority!
Treadmill Vs. Elliptical Trainer – The Difference Explained
It’s time to answer the much-anticipated question here:
What’s the difference between treadmills and ellipticals?
They are both popular and widely-used fitness machines. The main difference – besides the one in the structure – is the goal you’re after.
Unlike treadmills, ellipticals are cross-trainers. These exercise machines stimulate workouts such as running or stair climbing. Although they provide you with effective cardio training, they’re usually not motorized; most of them are self-powered.
Are Ellipticals Good For People With Bad Knees?
It’s not a strict rule, but not all elliptical trainers show great results with people with bad knees. These machines require full-body activity, and there’s a chance that someone might get hurt by using them.
The Pros & Cons Of Using Treadmills
As far as treadmill running goes, some people are all-in – but others are not so pumped.
That got us thinking:
What are the benefits of choosing treadmills? Are there any major drawbacks that could make you skip treadmill running for good?
- It’s extremely easy to use – everyone can do it!
- You can control everything: speed, incline, warm-up period, the energy used, etc.
- You can design custom programs that fit your needs.
- Some treadmills are equipped with special features – heart monitors, step counters, etc.
- Walking/running is the fastest way to burn calories.
- They can be expensive, especially the newer models.
- Some models take up a lot of space in your room.
- Maintenance usually requires a professional.
What Is The Best Treadmill For Bad Knees?
Okay, so we’ve gone over the main types of treadmills and their key features.
You’re probably interested in models that can help with knee problems, and that’s exactly what we’re going to focus on from now on:
We’re going to list down the best treadmill options for bad knees.
Tie your shoelaces – here we go!
Nordic Track T 6.5 Si Treadmill – Best For Home Use
The Nordic Track T 6.5 Si Treadmill is the first on the list. This is your chance to get your hands on a budget-friendly – but high-quality – treadmill for bad knees.
The Nordic Track is not a model that’s recommended for heavy use because of its motor size. Still, it has everything you need if you need to walk regularly. The treadmill deck can be folded, and it’s pretty easy to lift up and fold because of the hydraulic arm that carries most of the weight for you.
Here, you have the FlexSelect cushioning system, which is joint protective and ensures normal stride length. The weight capacity for the Nordic Track T series treadmill is 300 lbs, which is above average for treadmills.
As far as display features are concerned, it has a touchscreen display that can help you take part in HQ online exercises. It also has a speaker, but it’s not Bluetooth enabled, unfortunately.
Now, start your routine by clicking the start button on your control panel – and make adjustments to speed if needed.
- 20 different workout programs
- Excellent cushioning
- 300 lbs weight capacity
- No USB
- Not competent for taller people
Bowflex Tread Climber TC 20 – Best For Cardiovascular Health
The Bowflex Tread Climber TC20 is a great choice for indoor use.
The reason why this is one of the best treadmills for bad knees is that it’s a combination of a stair climber, an elliptical, and a regular treadmill.
This model has an in-built heart rate monitor and workout programs that can be set for personal needs. The LCD helps you monitor the speed limit, calories burned, and heart rate, making this an excellent choice for cardiovascular fitness.
Another useful feature includes a weight loss plan, a quick start, and transportable wheels – all of which can help the user maximize training efficiency.
- A combination of a stair climber and a treadmill
- Monitors your cardiovascular health
- Equipped with transportable wheels
- The price can exceed $3,000
- Comes with a short warranty
Sunny Health And Fitness Walking Treadmill S7-T7857 – Best For Beginners
The third on our list is the Sunny Health And Fitness Walking Treadmill S7-T7857.
What makes this treadmill exceptionally useful is the fact that it comes with non-slip handlebars and that it offers shock absorption for low impact on the knees.
The speed limit stretches from 0,6 mph to 5 mph, which allows you to go for a walk or a quick jog – your call!
You can stop your workout immediately by using the safety feature.
- Equipped with non-slip handlebars
- Offers good resistance
- Not comfortable for shorter people
- Manufacturer support is slow
Proform Performance 300i Treadmill – Best For Intense Workouts
The Proform Performance 300i Treadmill is like winning the lottery if you’re looking for an affordable multi-function treadmill.
This model is equipped with a special cushioning system that protects your bad knees while walking or running. It also has a normal-sized treadmill belt.
But that’s just the beginning – it’s loaded with workout programs for walking, jogging, or running.
The motor is HQ and it will stay cool – thanks to the installed cooling fan – even during intense workouts. During your workout sessions, you’ll have the opportunity to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth and insert your own workout data if you like.
- A folding deck and a hydraulic system
- A cooling fan for intense workouts
- Has Bluetooth connection
- Plus-sized users can find the deck narrow
- Not meant for beginners
Lifespan Fitness TR3000i Treadmill – Best For Losing Weight
If you want a treadmill that you can fold and unfold in the blink of an eye, you should definitely turn your attention to the Lifespan Fitness TR3000i Treadmill.
It’s yet another model that has shock absorption, and it’s equipped with 21 configured workout programs. The max user weight for this treadmill is 220.46 lbs – which is decent but not great.
This model also has a 3-speed cooling fan that protects the motor from overheating. So, feel free to spend more time than anticipated on your treadmill, and don’t worry if the motor will overheat and stop working.
- Can easily be folded and unfolded
- Has shock absorption
- A 3-speed cooling fan installed
- Can’t handle more than 220 lbs
Sole Fitness F80 Treadmill – Best For Hill Training And Long-Distance Running Exercises
The Sole Fitness F80 Treadmill is special because it’s one of the finest choices for hill training and long-distance running.
With this model, the user is equipped with six standard, two heart, and ten preset workout programs.
Once again, the LCD helps you keep track of calories burned, heart rate, etc. It also has a built-in cooling fan, tablet holder, and speakers – if you want to take part in online exercises.
A clear advantage here is that the cushioned deck reduces the impact on your joints by a remarkable 40%, which most treadmills are not capable of.
It’s an electric folding treadmill, which makes everything easier. You can just release the deck, step back and watch it unfold automatically.
- Offers a real-life experience
- Numerous preset programs
- Unfolds automatically
- Not meant for light exercises
Horizon Fit T202 Treadmill – Best For Comfort Workouts
The Horizon Fit T202 Treadmill is great for indoor workouts at your convenience. This treadmill is not meant for intense training but workouts with comfort – which works for lots of people suffering from knee arthritis and doing their exercises at home.
It comes with a 31-day goal training and customizable workout options. The treadmill also lets you save all of your data and enable quick adjustments.
It features a quiet motor with cooling fans installed and has a built-in pulse and heart monitor.
Storing this treadmill is effortless and quick, too!
- 31-day goal guarantee
- Pulse and heart monitor
- Quiet motor with a cooling fan
- Not meant for intense training
Horizon Fitness T101 – Best For Light Exercises And Step-Goal Workouts
Horizon Fitness T101 is meant for light exercises.
The treadmill speed ranges from 0.5 mph to 1o mph. It comes with pre-loaded workout programs, including 10 distance and 10 step-goal workouts. It also features Bluetooth connectivity and a cooling fan.
It’s fairly easy to store, too.
However, the track is short and might be inconvenient for people that are not of average height.
- Loaded with different workout programs
- Has Bluetooth connectivity
- Taller people might find the track too short and narrow
- Poorer quality cushioning
Exerpeutic TF900 Electrical Treadmill – Best For Fitness Walking
The Exerpeutic TF900 Electrical Treadmill is another fantastic electric folding treadmill.
This treadmill offers a 100% painless running experience for users. It has a soft drop folding system, and the motor speed reaches 1.5 HP.
And if you’re worried about a malfunction occurring – don’t be. The treadmill comes with a 5-year warranty!
Another great feature of this flat treadmill is that it can bear weights of up to 350 lbs.
- Supports 350 lbs
- 100% painless workout experience
- 5-year warranty
- Newer models can be expensive
- Repairs require a professional
Smooth Fitness 5.25 Folding Treadmill – Best For Speed Walks
The last in line among the best treadmills for bad knees is the Smooth Fitness 5.25 Folding Treadmill. It offers variable speed walks and heart rate control.
Here, the user is equipped with an arm suspension system – ensuring less impact on the joints while walking or running.
The maximum speed reaches 10 mph, and it has an impressive 2.5 HP motor to boot.
If you come across this model, you should definitely consider it. Oh, and it comes with a lifetime warranty – we’ll explain why that’s important in a minute.
- Comfortable speed walks
- Monitors your heart rate
- Lifetime warranty
- Low incline
- Can be expensive
True Performance 3000 Treadmill – Best For Therapeutic Exercises
Before you click “Buy,” know that the True Performance 3000 Treadmill is the most expensive one out there.
So, why buy it?
Because it guarantees knee recovery and comes with an orthopedic belt that lowers the impact on your joints.
And if you remember previous examples, none of them had this feature. With most of them, you had to rely on handrails.
Another neat feature allows you to lock in your heart rate – and the machine will automatically adjust your workout time.
- The best therapy for people with knee pain
- Monitors your heart rate
- Speed adjustment
- The most expensive model
- Not meant for intense workouts
What Is The Best Exercise For Bad Knees?
Okay, we’ve gone over the 10 absolutely best treadmills for bad knees. That means the equipment is taken care of – but what about the exercise itself?
Most treadmills have already pre-programmed workouts, but these don’t suit just anyone. If you’re suffering from knee arthritis, you should take it easy once you start exercising on treadmills.
So, what’s the plan?
First, you should confine yourself to walking – meaning no intense exercises, and most importantly, no running! That way, you won’t overdo your exercise, and you’ll have the time to control your every step.
If your knees are hurting, try applying some heat for 15-20 minutes before stepping on the treadmill. You can take a hot shower or just use a heated towel to wrap around your legs.
Another thing – choose the right footwear.
You need comfy sneakers. That means you’ll have to buy a separate pair for your treadmill exercises. You shouldn’t be doing your treadmill exercises with your everyday shoes on.
If you want to find out more, jump to our Treadmill Reviews section!
Things To Consider Before Buying A Treadmill For Bad Knees
Buying just any treadmill isn’t a good idea – especially if you’re looking for a specific model of the best treadmills for bad knees. Different specifications and treadmill features will suit individual needs.
But no matter which treadmill you’re looking for and whether it’s for the purpose of light exercise or intense workouts, you should take a couple of things into account before you click that “Buy” button.
The Belt Size And Speed
Your treadmill workout will include walking and/or running. Either way, gym equipment must be safe during the entire workout process.
When it comes to the belt size and treadmill models, the belt size should be at least 48 inches long and 18 inches wide. If you’re taller than 6 feet, the belt should be at least 54 inches in order to have a proper workout.
Just as the size should suit people of all heights, the belt shouldn’t slow you down as you start walking or running.
As a rule, treadmills come pre-lubricated, but that’s always the case. So, before you set it up, check the instructions. Perhaps there’s an indication in the instructions whether you should lubricate the belt a couple more times.
The best treadmill for bad knees will feature interactive touchscreen control panels.
If you’re old-school, you might have trouble with the newer versions, though.
For example, it can take you twice as long to adjust the speed controls, and you might lose your desire to exercise by the time you’re done. So as not to feel out of place, go through the manual and get fully acquainted with the control panels before you start exercising.
Note that different treadmill brands could have totally different control panels.
Connecting Your Phone Or Tablet Device
Yes, it’s possible.
With these newer models, you have the chance to connect your smartphone or tablet device to your treadmill via Bluetooth. Lots of people with knee injuries rely on online exercise videos and go through with them on their treadmill indoors.
One more thing:
Once it’s connected, your smartphone automatically becomes your visual control console. Fascinating, right?
If you’re planning on engaging in workout programs for weight loss, you’ll need the best treadmill that goes up to 10 mph per hour. A high-quality running deck with a cushioning system should absorb the intensity and force of your step without collapsing – even more so if you’re dealing with knee pain.
The treadmill’s belt shouldn’t shift with each foot strike – even as you hit maximum speed – and you should be aware of the horsepower:
If you’re a person that likes to jog, you should be looking for a treadmill with at least 2.0 HP.
Since you’re on the lookout for treadmills for bad knees, you should take into account the weight capacity and whether the desired treadmill has the capacity for your weight.
Lower-end treadmills include a weight capacity of about 200-300 pounds, while some high-end models claim that their best treadmills have a running deck that can handle up to 800 pounds.
Safety Key Feature
A safety key is a crucial element to look for in the best treadmill for bad knees.
It’s a small key that’s connected to the front control panel of the treadmill. The purpose is to enable the user to stop the treadmill if a malfunction occurs or you have an accidental fall. It’s like an emergency treadmill feature for users.
Once you turn it on and officially start your workout session, try to listen closely to the noise levels.
If your treadmill is working smoothly throughout your entire exercise session, you’re good. However, if you hear rough noises coming from the machine or even short “stops” in the belt – that’s not good news. And who wants an annoyingly loud treadmill, anyway?
The incline adds a certain degree of intensity to your fitness routine.
Simply, it’s an additional function that makes your walk – or run – more interesting. It helps you vary the incline while you’re exercising. While certain machines have an in-built “hill system” that already has an adjustable incline, others need to be stopped and adjusted.
If you go for the treadmill that has to be inclined manually, you’ll have to put your exercise on hold, turn off the treadmill, adjust the incline, and get back up. Bear in mind that these types of treadmills are somewhat cheaper, though.
What if something goes wrong with your treadmill?
Even with the best treadmills for bad knees, the chances of a malfunction are not ruled out. In that event, you’ll probably want to look at the warranty of the manufacturer.
Here’s a tip:
Look for treadmills that have a lifetime warranty – that’s the best-case scenario. If you can’t find one with this type of warranty, then look for a minimum of 10 years. Who knows what could go wrong with your machine, and you don’t want to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for repairs every now and then.
You’re out looking for the best treadmills – but do you have the money for it? Among other factors, you have to take your budget plans into account.
The most important thing for you is to find a treadmill that is well-made but affordable. It would not be wise to get an overpriced treadmill and break your budget – or to just take any cheap treadmill and risk it breaking down after just a couple of brisk walking exercises.
Keep looking; we’re sure you’ll find a budget-friendly treadmill.
Safety Tips For Treadmill Users
Injuries due to the incorrect handling of gym equipment are not uncommon at all.
Whether you’re a first-time user or not, you should stand by a couple of tips that will guarantee a safe exercise.
Here are a couple of tips on how to stay safe while using a treadmill:
- Don’t go barefoot: It doesn’t matter whether you’re exercising in the gym or in the comfort of your own home – you shouldn’t get on your treadmill barefoot. Spending too much time on the belt can cause blisters and even burns. You’ll end up having one more problem on your list, not just bad knees.
- Don’t step off a moving treadmill: It may sound unnecessary, but under no circumstances should you step off a moving treadmill. Otherwise, you could end up badly injured. You should be familiar with the emergency shutdown button or if the treadmill won’t stop – the safety key.
- Know your limits: If you have bad knees, you should be extra aware of your own limits and not push too hard. Pushing too hard will only achieve the opposite effect – and you’ll end up getting injured.
- Keep children away: Each year, thousands of injuries occur as a result of children playing with treadmills. If you have children in your home, keep them away from treadmills.
- Don’t rely on handrails too much: It’s advisable to use handrails while you’re getting used to your treadmill. However, relying on them too much can put pressure on your shoulders and hands. It can also affect the calorie-burning process. Moving your arms freely helps burn more calories than holding onto handrails.
Our Final Thoughts On Treadmills
As you could see for yourself, deciding on the best treadmill for bad knees is not a piece of cake.
Before settling on the right one, you have to go through lots of different types, see how they function and familiarize yourself with safety-related aspects beforehand.
After in-depth research, we singled out a couple of possible picks when it comes to treadmills for people with knee problems.
There’s the Nordic Track T 6.5 Si Treadmill, the Horizon Fit T202 Treadmill, and the Horizon Fitness T101 – you have your options.
Each of the models we’ve mentioned so far has unique features that suit different user requirements. However, you should look at the same factors while shopping for the best one – cushioning, display panels, weight capacity, incline, and, of course, your budget!