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Is Peloton Good or Bad for Your Knees ?

Knee pain is common among cyclists, so it is only normal that you would be concerned about the challenge with the Peloton bike. Add the many comments on the Peloton platforms of people who actually had knee pain from riding Peloton, and your concern cannot be more verified.

Nonetheless, the truth is that Peloton Bike is actually good for your knees if you get the right seat height and depth, as well as have the pedals and cleats installed appropriately. On the other hand, if you have all this hardware wrongly set, Peloton becomes bad for your knees. 

Peloton Cycling Good or Bad for Knees?

In general, On level ground, walking produced forces that were 2.6 times that of the body weight. On the other hand, Peloton Cycling generated the least force, with an impact of approximately 1.3 times the individual’s body weight. It is a low-impact cardio exercise, meaning it does not strain or put weight on the joints, including the knees.

Is peloton Bike good for bad knees?

Studies that have been looked over by experts have shown that low-intensity cycling can help people with knee osteoarthritis. It can help with function and walking, reduce pain, and improve aerobic fitness.

Moderate pedaling can help your knees and hips move more freely and make your quadriceps stronger.

In addition to working your glutes and hamstrings, cycling also strengthens the muscles surrounding your knees, which can help support and protect your joints.

So, People with knee issues who are unable to perform certain exercises (such as running) can use the Peloton bike for cycling as an alternative form of exercise.

Does Peloton Hurt Your Knees? As long as your seat and pedals are properly adjusted, the peloton won’t harm your knees. Adjusting the seat will position you so that you exert minimal pressure on your knees. Additionally, selecting low-impact classes helps to redistribute pressure across the muscles.

However, Peloton has features that, if not set in the right way, are prone to cause knee pain.

We will venture into both sides of Peloton cycling for the knees, how it is good and bad for the knees;

Ways Peloton Can Be Good for Your Knees

Technically, Peloton is good for the knees because it is a low-impact cardio activity. Actually, among the cardio equipment, the bike has the best shot at ensuring that you don’t get any injuries, compared to equipment such as the treadmill and the rowing machine.

According to the Dr. Tanaka

“Cycling is a nonweight bearing activity, so it is better for your knees and joints, and it does not cause much muscle soreness.” 

Usually, you will spend a significant amount of time sitting while on the bike, which takes the pressure off your leg joints. Therefore, you don’t impact the knee joints, which prevents knee pains.

In this regard, cycling is actually used to alleviate knee pain. While the exercise is low-impact, it still allows for joint movement, preventing stiffness. Thus, it acts as a mode of active recovery.

Moreover, there is a range of cycling exercises on Peloton that allow you to choose from the most appropriate for the knees. My favourite knee therapy Peloton exercises are the low-impact rides. Here, the whole cycling training takes place on the saddle, so you don’t have to stand and bring an unwelcome impact on the knees. At the same time, the exercises are tough and could be long, bringing with them most of the cardiovascular exercise benefits.

Over and above that, Peloton has post-ride sessions, which help stretch your muscles and joints after the ride. While they may not get rid of possible lactic acid in your leg muscles, they help reduce the pain while ensuring that all the muscles and joints are better.

Ways You May Be Damaging Your Knees While Cycling

Unfortunately, with all the amazing benefits of cycling on a knee with injury or at risk of injury, there is a negative side. Research indicates that at least 25% of cyclists suffer from knee injuries. Sadly, most of these injuries are on cyclists using clipless bike pedals and cleats. Since the Peloton bike is in this category, let’s see what could be causing this challenge;

A) Having the wrong seat height and fore and aft

It is essential to set the seat height and depth that is best for you. Peloton does not have a specific seat height for specific heights since people have different height and inseam combinations. Therefore, we all have a customized perfect seat height. Usually, most users can identify their best seat height on their own using guidelines; others need a bike fit professional. You can engage either or both to ensure that you set your seat height correctly, which helps prevent knee pain.

The wrong seat position leads to front and back knee pains, which is the most common cause of knee pain among riders.

B) Installing the cleats loosely on the shoes and wrong cleat alignment on the pedals

When the cleats are loosely attached to the shoes, you risk experiencing knee pain. The same case happens when you don’t align the cleat position appropriately while on the bike.

C) Using cleats with too much float or with no float at all

Cleats that have a float give the rider lateral leg movement while clipped into the pedals. This helps prevent knee stiffness, which leads to knee pain when using cleats with a zero float system.

However, when the cleats have too much float, they allow the leg and knee to move too much, and the excess lateral movement leads to lateral knee pain.

Ways You Can Reduce Injuries to Your Knees

The good news is that you can get rid of the knee pain or, better still, prevent the risk of injury. 

  • Adjust your seat height and the fore and aft position to ensure you have the best fit.
  • Ensure that you install the cleats on the cycling shoes appropriately and tightly.
  • Always align the ball of your foot to your heel when you clip in to avoid medial and lateral pain.
  • Go for cleats with moderate floats, such as 4.5-9 degrees.

This video explains cleat float in more depth.

In addition to these remedies, try the following;

  • Engage in lower body strength training, which will improve your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quad muscle endurance.
  • Always ensure that the pre-ride and post-ride workouts are part of your schedule, preparing the muscles and smoothening the way for a ride with less injury.
  • If you have an outdoor bike, ensure that it is your best fit, one, you can adjust the seat height to suit your height without straining.

Cycling Knee Pain Symptoms and Remedies

Interestingly, all the above factors cause knee injury in different knee muscles. Therefore, it is easy to identify the cause of your knee pain and correct it without having to consider all the other remedies.

painful Knee AreaRemedy
Front of the kneeIncrease the saddle height; also move the saddle fore and aft position farther from the handlebars: [Saddle ↑  & ← (backward)]
Back of the kneeDecrease the saddle height; move the fore and aft position of the seat closer to the handlebars [Saddle ↓ & maybe →(forward)]
Lateral knee pain (outside the knee)Keep the foot out and away from the pedal while clipped in (cleat in) ← →
Medial knee pain (inside the knee)Foot in or closer ← → (cleat out)
AchillesFoot forward (cleat back)

Is Peloton (Tread) Running or Biking Better for Your Knees?

As a whole, Peloton biking should be better than treadmill running for your knees. The simple reason for this answer is that cycling is non-weight-bearing, while running on the treadmill is the opposite: weight-bearing.

Usually, the bike has an option to sit, which reduces the body weight going into the knees. This prevents knee injury while providing therapy for existing knee pain. 

Other than that, the Peloton bike locks the foot in the clipless pedals, reducing knee movement.

On the other hand, treadmill running has the highest benefits for calorie-burning and weight loss, which reduces the weight that the knees have to handle. Therefore, it still works to help the knees minimize strain.

However, running brings down all the body weight on the knees, which can be damaging for the knees. Therefore, too much running will lead to depreciation of the knee joint fluid, hence pain and injury.

So, between running and biking on Peloton, biking is better for your knees, whether to prevent injury or heal from an injury.

Is Treadmill Walking or Biking Better for Knees?

While treadmill running is the least recommended for knee benefits, the treadmill has the option to walk, which is also soft on the knees. Walking brings less body weight to the knees; hence better preferred for bad knees.

However, while walking is often recommended for the knees, cycling still wins over walking on the treadmill. This stems from the fact that walking is minimal weight bearing, while cycling is even less weight-bearing. Research indicates that cycling bears 1.3% of body weight while walking bears 2.6% of body weight.

Best Peloton Rides for Your Bad Knees

Fortunately, Peloton considers people with bad knees who still need cardio training for recovery and fitness. Usually, these classes are under the low-impact cycling category, where all the cycling takes place on the saddle to lower the impact on the knees further.

Luckily, these classes are available with all the Peloton cycling instructors, and you will also get them in different durations, from 10 minutes to 45 minutes.

The best low-impact Peloton classes for knees include the following;

  1. 20 min low-impact ride with Ben Alldis
  2. 30 min low-impact ride with Kendall Toole
  3. 15 min low-impact ride with Emma Lovewell
  4. 45 min low-impact ride with Mayla Wedekind
  5. 10 min low-impact ride with Alex Toussaint

In a Nutshell;

The peloton bike is good for your knees. Actually, cycling is rated among the best options for knee pain therapy, which means that cycling prevents knee pain and helps alleviate it.

However, there are conditions to ensuring that cycling and spinning remain therapeutical to the knees and not detrimental. For example, the position of the saddle and how your cleats align on the pedals, among others, are factors to consider when using Peloton for the knees.

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Written by

Luky k.