Ellipticals are reputed for their low-impact workout with cardio advantage. It also offers you a total body workout without putting much stress on your knees. They are also supportive of recovery exercises, especially of knee injuries, i.e., when you cannot perform high-impact workouts.
These are effective even when you have a cartilage breakdown issue under your kneecap. However, this cannot be termed as a sure-shot way of achieving fitness for people with all kinds of knee issues. Sometimes knee pain is for various reasons an elliptical cannot alleviate or support.
Treadmill Vs. Ellipticals – Forces
In comparison to walking or running, an elliptical trainer workout is a very low impact exercise as your knees need not bear the jolt with every step. However, the shear forces are higher when using an elliptical, meaning it does not always spare the knees, especially when using a high resistance level.
It implies that you should not be in a misconception that your knees are protected on every setting of the elliptical, as only lower resistance can offer that promise and higher levels do not. So, consider this and decide if that is what you need if you want to keep the knee issues at bay.
The patellar tendinitis is not a friendly condition for users choosing to work on an elliptical. Since this condition is associated with the tendons connecting your kneecap or patella and shinbones, it can cause pain while you move your legs.
As the patellar tendon participates in the action of extending your lower leg, you experience pain while doing things like pushing the elliptical pedals or of a bike. This pain is sharp and can occur during or after the activity.
It is also possible for the pain to increase when the intensity of the exercise is more. When the condition progresses, you are likely to experience pain earlier, throughout, and afterward the workout.
Difficulties With Biomechanics
During your elliptical exercise, the artificial workout can sometimes interfere with the natural biomechanics and cause pain in the knees. This happens mainly when the base motion is not as per the natural joint motion putting further stress on your joints.
When you have to make an artificial pause while moving your legs in a downward movement, it causes your knee joints and the hips to work out of sync resulting in higher stress on your knees.
It is true, especially with the machines having too wide a stance, as they easily disrupt your movement from a natural one and can lead to your knees being subjected to higher stress. These unnatural strides due to wide stance are the major cause of knee stress, according to the All Ellipticals website.
Overuse Injuries With Elliptical Workout
If you want to avoid injuries due to worsening, you need to consider muscle strength and knee joint function. If your muscles are imbalanced at your hip and thigh, then there are greater chances of knee pain risk with an elliptical.
Sometimes, you might be over-exhausting your body leading to knee pain by working too hard or doing too much workout, or by doing it too quickly. When you experience pain above the knee cap, it is due to quadriceps tendonitis, an overuse injury.
Your tendons that attach your quad muscles to the femur right above the knee cap become inflamed. It is mostly seen in users who do high-intensity training without first building a proper fitness base.
When the pain I felt outside the knee, then it is due to the iliotibial band syndrome. The friction of the iliotibial band over your hip and knee joints as you do repetitive motion is the cause of this syndrome. It is common in women with their knees less wide than their hips.