Treadmills might be a great piece of equipment to fulfill your cardio workouts, but some people constantly complain of knee problems and other pains or discomfort after exercising on it.
If you have bad knees, that would be a tough thing for your daily life. According to NCBI’s study (1), (2), walking on a cushioned treadmill helps release your knee pain and improve your body’s balance and stability, thus enhance your life quality.
So, which treadmill is good for bad knees? We know that not all treadmills can improve your knee problem. But according to LiveStrong.com and HealthLine.com, if you want to choose a treadmill for your bad knees, a treadmill with supportive cushioning and at least a 3% inclination is necessary.
In a hurry? The following is the list of the best treadmills for bad knees:
- NordicTrack T 6.5Si Treadmill
- Horizon T303 Treadmill
- Horizon Studio 7.4 AT Treadmill
- Bowflex T216 Treadmill—Best Reviewed
- Schwinn 810 Treadmill
- ProForm 2000 Treadmill—Best Cushioning
- XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill—Best Budget!
You can see the overviews, pros & cons below. Enjoy!
How to Choose a Treadmill for Bad Knees
Having a bad knee doesn’t cause an individual to come up with lame excuses to refrain from exercising.
Still, practically, it is evident that exercising is truly a painful affair for them.
Contrarily, the same exercise can reduce pain, provide flexibility to joints, and even improve one’s balance and stability.
There are different treadmills, each having its highlight designs and advantages.
For someone specific about reducing knee pain/joint problems by walking on a treadmill, it is ideal to choose those models with features that can minimize stress on the knees.
Once you are given a green signal from your doctor for working out on a treadmill (doing low-impact exercises such as walking), there comes the primary problem of choosing the best treadmill for bad knees.
The main features that must never be compromised when you plan to buy a treadmill for knee pain include a cushioned belt and stability. A treadmill equipped with supportive cushioning is best for those who have osteoarthritis, as it lowers the impact on your joint, either for walking or running.
The presence of a cushioned track reduces the impact of the workout on the knees/joints by as much as 40% compared to working on hard surfaces.
For greater stability that causes no surprise impact on your joints, it is always preferred to select a model that weighs 50 pounds or more.
How to Protect Your Knee While Running on a Treadmill
Firstly, running is a high-impact activity, and secondly, running on a treadmill is different from running outside on the park/road.
If individuals don’t understand this difference and don’t take extra care to stay safe from injury, they can hurt themselves badly.
Given here are some tips to protect your knees from further pain aggravation while running on a treadmill. Posture is of utmost importance while running on a treadmill, as this helps in muscle conditioning.
Rather than forcing yourself into a specific posture, try to stay in a natural position making sure that your joints are not overextended or stressed too much.
For those of you who wonder how different is a treadmill surface compared to the ground surface, here is the answer to your lingering doubt—the treadmill surface is very flat, which’s not so good for the legs and feet.
When there is a 3% inclination on the treadmill, it becomes as good as running on the outside ground surface and helps protect your knees and joints from injury.
Running on a treadmill with zero inclination causes pain and muscle strain for the runner’s knees and feet.
This is mainly because the individuals run with the knees in an extremely straight position instead of slightly bent. In such a position, the knees cannot absorb shock properly.
It is better to use a treadmill without any motor for mimicking the same experience as running on the ground.
Also, never hold onto the bars in the front of the equipment or even the side railings as these can interrupt the balance and cause the exerciser to fall/stumble as he/she gains momentum.
Besides sticking to the right posture, also ensure that you take short and quick strides to experience minimal impact on the legs.
Never push yourself any further than what your body could handle, as this can aggravate knee injuries.
Keep an eye on any indication given by your body, and act accordingly.
Above all, wear good-quality shoes that fit properly, absorb shock, and are specifically designed for running purposes.
Top 7 Best Treadmills for Bad Knees
In a world where there is no shortage of new brands and exercise equipment, choosing the right one for your needs seems to be a headache.
That’s why we have curated the top 7 best treadmills that protect bad knees from pain/injury by prioritizing cushioning, inclination, and speed.
NordicTrack T 6.5 Si treadmill is an entry-level treadmill equipped with FlexSelect Cushioning, which helps the user mimic the outside running surface or even add extra cushioning to minimize the impact on the injured joints.
We know that cushioning is a must for running without causing injury to knees/joints, and the company understands this very well.
You suffer from joint problems yet find it difficult to motivate yourself to stay active by regularly exercising.
If this description fits you perfectly, don’t hesitate but get going and buy the NordicTrack treadmill that comes with a one-year iFit membership and various exercise programs (as many as 20 built-in programs) to help you break the monotony of exercising.
The free iFit membership helps the user access live fitness classes where you are helped with cushioning, speed, and inclination levels by your expert trainer.
You can even experience serene gardens, rocky surfaces, or snowy mountain peaks as iFit’s Google Maps option gives you a choice to select from various backgrounds.
The treadmill is a space saver, too, as it comes with a folding frame design using the SpaceSaver design patent specially designed by the brand.
The EasyLift Assist technology helps fold the equipment in a jiffy though the construction supports as much as 300 pounds of user weight.
The machine comes with an option to increase inclination up to 10% and a speed capacity of up to 10mph.
- 20 different exercise programs
- 10-inch HD touch screen
- Free 1-year iFit membership takes your exercising experience to the next level
- Easy to fold without much need to bend or lift
- Extremely affordable
- Excellent cushioning
- Reasonable accessories in terms of 2 built-in speakers, cup holders, and auxiliary audio input
- No built-in fan
- The speed is only 10mph
- No USB port for charging
- Very compact, making the treadmill quite unfriendly for taller people
- Not great speed and inclination options
The Horizon T303 easy-folding treadmill seems to be the best fit for beginner trainers, entry-level runners, casual joggers, and walkers who are getting used to the concept of home gym training forming a new fitness routine for themselves.
The 60” 3-Zone cushioned deck lowers the impact on your knees by 40% and provides comfortable low-impact training.
Horizon is a brand that’s proud of its design and construction. The 3.0 CHP motor is optimally powerful, makes no noise, and runs steadily, making it an ideal pick interval training as it adapts to instant speed changes compared to other models in this price range.
That’s why the brand hasn’t hesitated to provide a lifetime warranty for the motor.
The absence of online connectivity or provision to sync with training apps is liked by many as the machine is simple to use.
The user can get onto the treadmill, set his/her required metrics, and start exercising in no time.
The machine is easily foldable, making it comfortable for users to fold and put it aside, helping them use the space for something else once they are done with the workout.
Coming to the equipment’s speed, Horizon doesn’t disappoint us much, given the low pricing of the machine.
It has a maximum speed of 12 mph, but it’s the inclination that bothers us more.
The equipment can be inclined by 12%, not even up to the standard inclination levels suggested.
In general, those seriously into fitness are prone to jogging, running, or walking by increasing inclination levels as this helps burn calories faster and lose weight sooner.
But, if you are someone who suffers from knee/joint problems or recovering from an injury, looking to perform some low-impact exercises without giving much trouble to the knees, you might never be using high-inclination levels, and a 12% incline must be more than sufficient.
The treadmill comes with a large backlit LCD console that displays all essential information such as speed, time, calories burned, and inclination level.
It also has several built-in exercise programs that help users in boosting performance and breaking boredom.
But remember, the Horizon treadmill is only a basic home gym equipment that doesn’t come packed with provisions for syncing with interactive training apps like iFit or sophisticated technology use.
- The motor offers top-class performance and helps in changing speed without any lags.
- Decent deck size
- Three-zone cushioning helps to absorb much of the shock.
- Lifetime warranty on the motor and frame, a three-year warranty period on the parts and electronics, and one year on labor.
- Durable and sturdy
- A 15% inclination is normal, but the machine offers only 12%, which could be a disadvantage for some
Horizon has done an excellent job of moving away from the entry-level models by designing the Horizon 7.4 AT foldable treadmill loaded with ample features.
The equipment is specially built to accommodate tall and heavy users with its extra-large deck space.
If you suffer from joint/knee pain and would like to work out on a treadmill, the Horizon 7.4 could be an appropriate choice as the company has come up with an ortho-lite belt design that minimizes strain on joints with softer settings. The cushioned running belt also has harder settings that mimic outside ground settings.
Users love greater resistance levels and higher variations in exercise programs.
Called the Sprint 8 training program, this is effective and commonly used by runners.
But above all, the one feature that makes this treadmill stand apart from the rest is its interactive training factor.
The treadmill comes with a 3.5 CPH motor that promises longevity due to the use of Rapid Sync Technology by the company.
This technology promises rapid speeding up and slowing down compared to the performance of other conventional motors.
Speed is on the average side at a 12 mph maximum speed while inclination is optimal up to a maximum of 15 degrees.
Apart from offering certain common program features such as iFit, the equipment also offers users an option to use several online training programs such as Aaptiv, Studio, and Treo.
This aspect is sure to lure customers as more and more individuals are moving towards online training solutions.
- It comes with four different running apps, any of which could be chosen according to your needs
- The company provides users several online training apps at a discounted price
- Lifetime warranty on frame, five years on motor, and two years on parts
- One must have their own tablet/smartphone to use any of the apps as the equipment does not come with a screen integrated into the console
Bowflex T216 is one of the best heavy-duty treadmills in the industry, known for its world-class performance and ample features.
The Comfort Tech deck cushioning system of the Bowflex T216 treadmill minimizes the impact on users’ knees and provides optimal comfort for those running with knee/joint pain.
You might be a running champion, an intermediate fitness lover, or someone who is simply new to using a treadmill.
This model doesn’t disappoint anyone and does more than simply catering to any user’s needs—it satisfies all their requirements.
The Bowflex treadmill comes loaded with enough capability to withstand an exercising army.
It comes with a 4.0 CPH belt motor that is a full 1 CPH more than the average home gym treadmill power of 3.0 CPH.
The belt size is quite bigger comparatively, and apart from this, it runs on a wider roller, which makes it extremely durable.
Its 2.75″ diameter roller measures far more than average home gym rollers (1.9″).
The treadmill provides users with accurate heart rate monitoring using chest straps that come along with the product.
The machine is also Bluetooth-enabled, helping users sync with its own ‘Results’ mobile app and others.
Don’t worry about monotony, as the treadmill comes with 11 built-in exercise programs that cater to various user needs. The maximum inclination of 15% is sufficient for average users.
- The higher motor capacity runs the treadmill smoothly withstanding multiple exercising sessions
- Zero maintenance on the belt
- Belt roller diameter prevents easy wear and tear of the belt and the motor
- Accommodates the feature to show per-minute calorie burn while treadmills, in general, show total calorie burn
- Easy to fold and unfold with the help of hydraulic assist
- Full-color 9 inches widescreen LCD monitor
- Might cause problems with folding
This model can hold two user profiles and runs on a 2.6 CHP motor that cannot be graded above-average. So the maximum speed is only up to 10 mph.
On the brighter side, the treadmill comes with a Softrak deck cushioning system that offers shock absorption for low-impact walking, supports users with knee injury/joint problems to run easily on the treadmill without any injury.
The inclination is only up to a maximum of 10%, which is average.
You can tour around the world, visit sandy beaches and waterfalls using the ‘Explore the World app,’ and simultaneously track metrics too using your smartphone.
- SoftDrop folding system helps users to fold and move the treadmill around the house easily
- Accessories such as water bottle holder, built-in speakers, USB charging port, and media shelf
- 16 different workout programs
- Apt for any type and level of user
- Heart rate monitoring enabled using contact grips
- Average inclination and speed capability
Proform 2000 treadmill comes with ProShox responsive cushioning for low-impact training and makes working out a comfortable experience.
The wow factor about this treadmill is its 50 built-in exercise programs that offer any trainer level enough challenges that help him/her stay glued to the treadmill for a lifetime.
The treadmill’s highlight is its incline feature in perfect sync with the built-in workout programs increasing or decreasing to complement the resistant levels in each of the chosen programs or match the elevation present in any of the online training apps.
Proper inclination levels are integral for runners, especially those suffering from knee/joint pain. The inclination (3-15%) provided in this treadmill mimics the real-world scenario helping marathon trainers benefit.
The machine comes with a 3.5 CHP motor with a maximum speed capacity from 0-12 mph.
It is also easy to fold and store despite having a maximum user weight of 300 lbs.
- 7 inch HD touchscreen helps to measure various metrics and experience 100s of training videos
- Lifetime warranty on frame and motor, five years on parts and two years on labor
- Accessories such as tablet holder, sound system, audio auxiliary port and speakers
- No fan
- Average customer service
The XTRASoft cushioning system reduces the impact generated by 20%, protects your knees while walking, as well as helping individuals with joint/knee pain run more comfortably.
The entire unit weighs around 108 lbs but is provided with transport wheels in the front and comes with a folding design, and the machine could be stored away easily.
Speed is only up to 10 mph, and this machine comes with a manual inclination option only at 0.5, 1.0, or 2 degrees.
The motor provided is par with the speed and inclination options coming at 2.25 CHP, quite optimal for jogging and running.
A clear and large LCD features all essential metrics, and the treadmill has 12 built-in exercise programs that are fixed for a standard duration of 30 minutes each.
But other than this, the equipment does not feature sound systems, cooling fan, or a USB charging port.
- Simple assembly and easy to maintain
- Sturdy construction but easy to fold and move using transport wheels
- Minimal power consumption
- 1 MPH speed adjustment option helps you find your correct workout pace
- No Bluetooth feature or compatibility with fitness apps
- Inaccurate calorie reading
- No backlight for the console
One is forced to use a treadmill for walking, jogging, or running when the weather is bad outside or if you cannot move out of the house due to various other reasons.
Low-impact cardio workouts benefit people with bad knees. It strengthens the muscles around the knee, increases blood flow to the cartilage, and even increases the chances of weight loss, thereby reducing stress on the knees.
Running on the treadmill, especially when you suffer from bad knee problems, must be done with utmost caution.
You must consult a professional before making any decision.
Go for a model that has an optimal cushioning option, inclination levels, and speed.
Never overstrain trying to achieve better bone health, as this could only lead to further damage to your knees/joints.
Before starting to work out, always get in touch with your physician and get his/her approval.