Why Your Client has Elliptical Knee Pain

Why Your Client has Elliptical Knee Pain

Elliptical Knee pain resulting from an elliptical machine is likely the result of various factors.

I was in the recreation center, and a patron asked me:

“What is better, an elliptical trainer or treadmill?”

Before I could answer the question, I needed more information. I needed to get a better idea of which is best for him.

I asked him these questions:

  • What is your fitness goal?
  • What is your previous fitness experience?
  • What is your present fitness level?
  • Are there any injuries that may prevent you from reaching your fitness goal?
  • What have you done in the past that was successful in reaching your fitness goal?

He let me know that he was trying to get fit. He had exercised frequently but was inactive as of right now. Plus, he had an old knee injury and liked using the elliptical machine in the past.

I told him to give the elliptical a go and see how it feels. If the elliptical trainer starts to bug your knees, then switch over to the treadmill.

He asked, “Why might my knee bother me while using the elliptical trainer?”

This was the answer that I gave him:

3 Reasons Why Your Client has Knee Pain While on the Elliptical Trainer

Hip Width is Not Your Natural Hip Width

The distance between the pedals or hip width is built for the average individual. It is supposed to be okay for someone 5 feet or 6 feet. The hip width may be too narrow or broad depending on the elliptical machine’s brand, design, style, and pedal. If the hip width is outside your average hip width, this will change the biomechanics of your leg. This will lead to undue stress on your knee, hip, and back.

Fixed Foot will Affect the Position of the Knee.

If your client fixes their heel on the pedal, it will affect how their knee tracks. If the knee is not tracking correctly, this will put more significant stress on different parts of the knee, leading to knee irritation or injury. Try to get your client to keep their heel off the pedal and to pivot on the ball of their foot until they have a position that makes their knee happy.

Some people should not have their heels off the pedal. Make sure you read the next tip to find out why.

Weight Shift onto the Toes Leads to More Quadriceps Activity

When one shifts their weight onto their toes, this creates greater quadriceps or thigh muscle activation. This will generate a greater force on the knee cap (patella). This excess stress may lead to knee irritation and pain in some clients. If your client has knee irritation, get them to use the elliptical with their heels down and see if this modification changes how their knees feel.

Those were my thoughts on which is better, the elliptical trainer or treadmill, plus a few reasons why your client’s knee may be irritated by being on the elliptical machine.

I wonder if there is any research on the topic. The above is my opinion on things. I wonder what the study says.

I will dig into the journals and get back to you.

Have a great day!

Rick Kaselj, MS

Details on Elliptical Knee Pain Program:

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