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Are Rowing Machines Good for Bad Knees?

Are Rowing Machines Good for Bad Knees?

Rowing machines are a great way to get a cardio workout in if you have bad knees. An exercise equipment that gives you a low impact full-body workout is going to be the best for your overall health and fitness.

Anytime you can replace high-impact exercise with low-impact exercise, you should find that your knee pain improves. Don’t avoid working out your lower body, as you want to strengthen the muscles in your legs and around your knees. Rowing machines make use of strong posts to allow you to easily row forward in a fluid motion.

Part of the reason exercise equipment like a good rower is the best workout for bad knees is that you can get a low-impact workout without straining any of your joints. Use machines for fitness when you want to get in an easy workout that you can’t get with free weights or on your own.

If you’re in any kind of pain, it can be scary just thinking about starting a new workout regime that may cause more pain. On the contrary, some workouts can actually help reduce the pain you’re experiencing. Take things slow and pick the right exercise like rowing.

What Is the Best Exercise Machine for Bad Knees?

A rowing machine is going to be the best type of cardio machine if you have bad knees, but you could also consider an elliptical, which will not cause the same type of pain in your joints as running does.

lady working out on rowing machine at the gym

Tailor your training towards equipment that offers less bend and strain on your knees. Exercise bikes are not terrible, but you need to proceed with caution. While there is not a tone of strain on your back or knees, the fact that you are riding in one position over and over again could cause some wear and tear problems with your joints.

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What Type of Fitness Routine Can You Establish with Joint Pain?

Whether it’s pain in your arms, knees, back, or another body part, one way to regain your health is to make time for some easy exercises. Here are a few tips about workouts when in different types of pain:

  • Workouts also have many benefits including improving your mental well-being and alleviating stress
  • Don’t focus on working out one particular muscle – a good home work out will work out all the muscles in your upper and lower body
  • Keep at it – home equipment and exercise machines don’t do any good if you give up
  • Look for offers and social media posts from companies who put their machines and equipment on sale; home equipment should not break your bank account
  • Make sure the seat on your equipment is in the right position to avoid strains and sprains

You can also look online at other posts by people who have had pain and successfully used rowing machines to improve ailments from their arms to their legs. Rowers can help with all types of pain, and many people get well by alleviating the stress on their knees by focusing on exercises that use their arms.

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Can Rowing Cause Knee Pain?

Rowing does not usually cause any knee pain, as it is a low-impact exercise that lets your muscles do most of the work without pounding on your joints. The important thing to remember is to always use the proper form and techniques. You will also be seated while rowing, so your knees will not bear your weight. The only type of exercise that will aggravate knee pain is going to be high impact.

lady in yellow tshirt at the gym holding knee showing bad pain

Pain can cause your overall health and fitness to suffer. Fortunately, rowers can help you get in top fitness while avoiding pain. Rowers can actually help you lose weight, and getting excess pounds off your frame should actually help your knee, since it will be easier to move around.

Exercise like power walking or running can cause knee pain, but even many hours on a rowing machine should not cause pain. In fact, you can look forward to the possibility of alleviating your injury with some exercise.

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How Do You Row without Hurting Your Knee?

The benefits of rowing far outweigh any potential setbacks. The best rowers are going to help your back, knees, and your full body. There is nothing you need to do differently when rowing to protect your knee. Exercise like you normally would on a rower.

Rowing should give an added benefit of losing some weight, regardless of how fit and strong you are, and this may find you feeling much better just by your knees carrying less weight.

man on a knee work out using a rower

Don’t make the resistance too strong on your rower if you have knee or back problems, as the resistance can make it harder and add strain on the painful joint.

Make sure the seat is at the right height whenever you are using exercise equipment in your home gym, as some people may have problems after performing exercises in the wrong position.

Man rowing on a rowing machine

A Good Rowing Machine Will Strengthen the Muscles Around Your Knees

The best exercise equipment helps strengthen the muscles in your back, upper body, and lower body, which includes around your knee. Strengthening muscles is a great way to take the pressure off your knee.

The best way to reach your fitness goals is to start with low-impact exercise so that no joint in your body is overworked. You don’t have to go to the gym to do this, as you can get a core, back, leg and total body workout just by using the right exercise equipment or walking a lot.

Is a Rowing Machine Easy on Joints?

Yes, in fact, some doctors recommend this type of exercise for patients in rehabilitation after surgery (learn more – rowing machine acl rehab). You wouldn’t do it right away, but after a month or so with a physical therapist you might be able to use a rowing machine as part of recovery after surgery and regain some strength.

group of people working out on a rower

You will feel much better without the constant pounding on your joints after you build up the strength in the muscles in your legs, which can help make your knee stronger.

Avoid Exercise Equipment Like a Treadmill If You Have Bad Knees

People with knee pain should avoid treadmills since the repeated pounding from running takes a toll on the knees. This type of equipment should be avoided as much as you can, as even one time running on a treadmill in your home can set you back in terms of your knee pain recovery and fitness goals.

people running on a treadmill

Any type of training that puts a strain on your knee should be avoided. Walking is hit or miss. Some walking is OK as it can help keep you limber, but it does pound on your knee in the same way that running does. Don’t make walking your primary form of fitness since the benefits do not outweigh the problems that it contributes to your knee pain.

If you have knee problems, you shouldn’t avoid exercise, just avoid the wrong kinds of exercise that might make your injuries worse. Rowing is an exercise that should actually be good for your knees and not cause them any additional harm or injury.

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Consistency Is Important

We have seen those social media posts bragging about weight loss and loving exercise. You don’t have to go that far. Part of the reason a home gym and a rower is nice is that you will see it in your home every day. Don’t be the person that lets it sit in a corner collecting dust blaming your knee pain.

Believe it or not, regular exercise – think 4 or 5 30-minute rowing sessions a week – should improve your health and lessen the amount of pain your knee is in. As long as your exercises aren’t injuring your knee, which rowing would not do, you should get in a good strength-training cardio workout a few times a week.

As your muscles get stronger, you will find yourself relying less on your knee, taking the strain off it, and helping any inflammation subside. If you forget about working out for long periods of time, you’ll keep reverting to step 1 and start with building up muscle mass all over again.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is rowing bad for knees?

One of the ways to avoid aggravating a bad knee is by keeping your body weight down, strengthening the muscles around the knee, and improving its flexibility. All of these you attain by getting into a good cardio and range-of-motion exercise that is low impact and does not pose a risk of injury to an already bad knee or joint. According to Ashcroft Surgery, one way to do this is by working out on a rowing machine.

2. Does rowing strengthen knees?

Regular low-impact exercises, such as rowing, help to strengthen the knees. Knees weaken due to age or injuries, and one way to strengthen the knees is to keep the muscles supporting them strong. Rowing workouts strengthen the quads, hams, glutes, and calves (among the many muscles that rowing works). With stronger lower body muscles, you remove the strain on your knees, reduce the pain and inflammation, and allow your knees to recover. This is the first step to stronger, more stable knees. However, if rowing hurts, you should immediately stop and refer to your doctor.

3. Can you use a rowing machine with knee arthritis?

The Mayo Clinic recommends low-impact, cardio and aerobic exercises to strengthen bad knees and reduce arthritis pain and stiffness, and rowing machines perfectly fit this prescription. Rowing will help improve bone strength, control weight, lessen stiffness, and strengthen muscular support to your bones. Of course, you should check with your physical therapist or doctor first before attempting any rehab program for your knee arthritis.

3. What exercises should I avoid with bad knees?

High-impact exercises that pound or cause trauma to the knees should be avoided to preserve the knee cartilage, according to Instead of running, you should look into other cardio exercises, such as working out on a rowing machine or elliptical trainer. Another source discourages jumping sports, skiing, squash, outdoor cycling, running, and walking on rough surfaces for people with bad knees and advises on postponing these activities until their knees are stronger or fully recovered.


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