Is Riding a Stationary Bike Good for Bad Knees?

Knee pain has a habit of holding a lot of us back. When you want serious cardio, getting on your feet is tricky when your joints are hurt so much! But is there a way for cyclists to help mitigate knee pain? Is riding a stationary bike good for bad knees?

The short answer is yes! Riding a stationary bike can be great for bad knees, as the exercise doesn’t pressure your knee joints. It’s a great way to get more flexible and boost cardio. But before you try indoor cycling, consult a doctor if you have a knee injury.

Key Takeaways

  • Stationary cycling can be good for bad knees, as it doesn’t pressure the knee joints and can improve flexibility, muscle endurance, and balance.
  • Stationary cycling can also provide great cardio without the strain, and you can start and stop whenever you like.
  • You can choose between upright and recumbent stationary bikes, depending on your preference and comfort level.
  • You should always consult a doctor or a physiotherapist before starting stationary cycling if you have knee pain or a knee injury.
  • Also, check your posture, saddle height, footwear, and intensity level to avoid further knee pain.

Why Is Stationary Cycling Good for Bad Knees?

Stationary cycling doesn’t actively punish your knee muscles. Unlike cycling outdoors, using a stationary bike works other muscles. For example, you’ll work your glutes and hamstrings. 

You can even use a recumbent indoor bike if you’d prefer to recline a little while riding. This type of bike may take even more pressure off your knees!

There’s also less pressure to stop and start again. For example, if you cycle outdoors and choose to stop, you may need to walk your bike back home if your knees start to hurt.

Let’s explore these points in more detail.

It Can Improve Your Flexibility

Stationary cycling can help to keep many of your joints and muscles moving. It can help you maintain a healthy range of motion across your body.

Stationary cycling is excellent for working and building flexibility. You’ll feel it working in the hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. It can also help to improve the motion range in your hips and knees. 

Studies show that stationary cycling can, over time, help boost muscle endurance and balance. Therefore, you can expect to become more flexible and agile the more you ride!

That could help you take the strain off your knees elsewhere. For example, if you lack flexibility when walking or jogging due to bad knees, cycling could help you build strength.

It Can Actually Take a Lot of Pressure off Your Knees

Did you know that indoor cycling doesn’t put pressure on your knees? It’s more likely that pedaling will work your hamstrings, your quadriceps, and your calves, leaving your knee joints relatively stress-free.

Riding a stationary bike is normally safe if you have bad knees, and some experts may recommend it. It’s vital to seek the advice of a doctor, physician, or personal trainer before you start.

There may be circumstances where you experience knee pain when cycling indoors. However, this may likely be due to how you position yourself. Check you’re riding in the correct posture and that your bike positions correctly on the floor.

Cycling is also ideal for controlled movements across other muscles in your legs. By sitting while exercising, you’re immediately taking away a lot of pressure from the knee joint.

It’s Great Cardio Without the Strain

Cycling burns a fantastic amount of calories and is great for heart health. You won’t burn as many calories cycling as you might when running, but there’s less pressure on your knees.

If you have knee problems or arthritis, you may find cycling a little gentler. You can lean back a little on a recumbent bike while still working your legs. 

Over time, cycling can potentially build more muscle than running, though you’re more likely to target more groups on foot. If you want to get fitter but can’t walk far, stationary cycling lessens the strain.

Again, cycling may cause knee pain in some cases, especially if you push too hard or for too long. Always ask your doctor or PT for help.

You Can Start and Stop Whenever You Like

Have you ever had to push your outdoor bike back home when your knees start aching? If you go out cycling with leg pain or knee strain, you may find it hard to stop and push your bike home if you’re in agony. 

With an exercise bike, you can stop any time you like, with models providing emergency stop buttons so you can safely dismount. Again, it’s also very easy to dismount from models such as recumbent bikes.

Make sure to set timed programs or workouts within your physical remit. Follow exercises and classes such as those on Peloton, and calculate your ideal heart rate zones.

You Can Try Different Types of Exercise Bike

Stationary bikes generally split into upright and recumbent styles. As mentioned, a recumbent bike angles you back a little, so you can relax while cycling. 

Upright bikes, when set up correctly, can support your whole body. You certainly won’t worsen knee pain if you adopt the correct posture. They can be more difficult to pedal than a recumbent bike, but both help burn the same amount of calories.

Always check setup guidelines and watch videos on the correct cycling posture if you choose an upright bike.

Should I Cycle With Bad Knees?

Cycling can be a fantastic way to get bad knees back to good health. It’s also great at supporting your body in bouncing back from knee injuries. Indoor cycling can also help to support arthritis, as it can help to produce synovial fluid. 

Cycling is a ‘low impact’ exercise, but you may struggle with knee pain if your muscles need to develop. PTs or doctors may advise you to try and develop muscles elsewhere in your body. That way, you can balance out those you’re building up.

In some cases, if you have knee pain or a joint condition, it may be worthwhile taking up physiotherapy, and be sure to ease yourself in slowly. Charging into cycling too early with bad knees can make things worse, so try and follow a training regime and warm-up program before pedaling away.

Some studies show that overusing a bike does not directly cause extensive knee pain. But, if you already suffer from bad knees, it’s never good to exacerbate pain.

Always try cycling on an indoor exercise bike if you have painful knees. Bike riding outside means covering lots of different terrain and gradients. You’re fixed in one spot at home or the gym and can stop when you like.

Once again, always seek medical advice before you start indoor or outdoor cycling with knee pain.


How Do I Stop My Knees From Hurting When I Cycle?

Your knees may hurt when cycling if you sit incorrectly. Make sure to sit upright on a standard stationary bike and that your saddle is in the correct position.

You should also ensure to warm up and cool down properly after every session. Check your footwear before you ride, too. Are you wearing shoes appropriate for exercise?

Finally, make sure to keep your limits in mind. If your knees ache a lot after cycling, you may need to lower the intensity level or reduce how much you’re riding.

Why Do I Get Pain in the Front of My Knees When Cycling?

Pain towards the front of your knees may mean your saddle position is incorrect. Many cyclists’ knees ache when their quad muscles pump too much force over their joints.

Try and sit on your bike with the pedals at the six o’clock position. Your heel should rest on the pedal, and your knee should be straight. You need to change the saddle height if this isn’t the case.

Pain in the back of your knees, meanwhile, means you may be over-extending them. Try lowering the saddle height.

Is Walking or Cycling Better for Bad Knees?

Cycling tends to be easier for people with bad knees. There’s less pressure placed on your weight-bearing joints. 

Depending on how far you intend to walk (and at what pace), cycling may also help you to burn more calories per session.

If you enjoy walking but suffer knee pain, cycling may help build muscle strength. Always speak with a doctor if you have a knee condition that restricts your walking. 

It’s also wise to ask for medical advice if you have knee problems and are cycling for the first time.

What’s the Best Exercise for Bad Knees?

Both cycling and swimming are great exercises for people with bad knees. Neither put pressure on your knee muscles and are great whole-body workouts.

Swimming will usually burn more calories per hour than cycling. It’s also important to stick to cycling indoors on an exercise bike (such as a Peloton) if you have bad knees.

Running and jogging can also burn lots of calories per hour depending on your physical profile. However, don’t try to get into on-foot training unless a doctor advises you to.

What Exercise Should I Avoid With Knee Pain?

You should avoid power walking, jogging, running, and stretches and weight exercises such as lunging and squatting. Any exercise that puts pressure on your knee joints will likely worsen your pain.

You can build up to these exercises with help from a physiotherapist. If you have a chronic knee joint condition, stick to cycling or swimming.

What Type of Stationary Bike Is the Best for Bad Knees?

Both upright and recumbent bikes can support bad knees as they facilitate low-impact exercise. Recumbent bikes offer more support and are more relaxed (great if you’re just getting started with cycling workouts).

Highly-rated stationary bikes for bad knees include Schwinn, Exerputic and Marcy models.


We hope you’ve found this article useful. There are some great ways you can still keep active with knee pain. Cycling is great for weight loss and improving your overall health if you have knee problems.

Thankfully, cycling at home or the gym won’t put undue pressure on your knees. Stationary bikes can also help build muscles in your legs and thighs. Please speak to a doctor or physiotherapist before trying a new exercise.

If this guide has helped you, don’t forget to share it with your family and friends. Knee pain doesn’t have to be the end of regular exercise! If you have any active tips you’d like to share, please do so below.

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