How to Use a Treadmill With Bad Knees & Hips

Injured runner

Those with bad knees or hips tend to stay away from any type of running, thinking it will do more damage to their joints. According to Lynn Miller, Ph.D., assistant director and associate professor of physical therapy at Andrews University, running cross country or on uneven surfaces poses the greatest risks. Treadmills provide an even surface that absorbs some of the shock when you run. If you have bad knees and hips, there are some precautions you can take to make the best use of a treadmill.

Try different treadmills because all treadmills are not made the same. The running deck may be soft, hard or even bouncy. Your personal style of running may match better with a specific treadmill design. Don't take the word of other runners. Try out a treadmill yourself and see how your joints feel after a workout.

Invest in good running shoes. Go to a specialty shoe store with knowledgeable sales staff. They will help you select a pair of shoes that will minimize the impact when you run. Replace the shoes as needed. If the tread on the bottom is worn away, purchase a new pair.

Start slow and progress gradually. Begin every workout with a 7- to 10-minute warmup. When you first start your treadmill training, set the machine at the lowest incline and the speed to a comfortable pace. Allow your body to adapt gradually. Over time, you can increase the speed and incline settings. Advance only one at a time. If you are increasing your incline, maintain your speed for a few workouts to allow your joints time to adapt. Then you can increase your speed at the new incline setting.

Listen to your body. If you feel pain during or after a workout, stop the workouts and consult a physician.


Follow the directions of your medical doctor or physical therapist.