Is a Rowing Machine Good for Bad Knees? Benefits and Considerations

If you’re someone who is dealing with bad knees, finding a workout that doesn’t put extra pressure on them can be a challenge. You want to exercise and stay active, but you don’t want to aggravate your condition any further. So, what’s the solution? Consider getting yourself a rowing machine. Yes, you read that right! Rowing is a low-impact workout that can be a great option for people with bad knees.

One of the best things about a rowing machine is that it offers a full-body workout while staying gentle on your joints. It not only strengthens your legs, but also your core, back, and arms, without putting any unnecessary stress on your knees. Unlike running or jumping, rowing is a fluid motion that doesn’t involve any hard landings or jarring movements. This makes it a great choice for anyone with knee issues, or even those who are recovering from knee injuries.

But, that’s not all – rowing can also help reduce knee pain and improve mobility. When you row regularly, your body gets used to the movement and starts to respond positively. Your knees, which may have been stiff or sore before, begin to loosen up and feel more flexible. Plus, rowing helps lubricate the joints, which can lead to decreased knee pain and an overall improvement in knee health. So, if you’re wondering whether a rowing machine is good for bad knees, the answer is a resounding yes!

How a rowing machine works

Rowing machines are exercise equipment that replicates the motion of rowing a boat. The machine has a seat, footrests, a handle, and a flywheel, which is the main mechanism that provides resistance. When the user sits on the seat and fastens their feet in the footrests, they grip the handle and pull it towards them, as if they are pulling an oar in the water. As they do so, the flywheel begins to spin, creating resistance against the motion of the handle. The resistance is adjusted by changing the settings on the machine.

  • When the user finishes the stroke, the flywheel slows down, and the handle returns to its original position.
  • Rowing machines can replicate the sensation of rowing on water, with some models featuring water-filled resistance systems that mimic the feel of paddling through water.
  • The motion is low impact, putting minimal stress on the joints, making it a popular choice for people with bad knees.

The Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines have been gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts around the world. It is an efficient and low-impact exercise that can benefit your whole body. In this article, we will discuss the various benefits of using a rowing machine, including how it can be suitable for those with bad knees.

  • Full-Body Workout: Rowing machines allow you to work out your entire body, including your arms, legs, core, and back muscles. It is a cardio workout that helps burn calories and improves your overall fitness level.
  • Low-Impact Exercise: As rowing machines are low-impact, the exercise does not put strain on your joints, making it ideal for people with bad knees. It is also an excellent exercise for people with arthritis or who are recovering from injuries.
  • Improves Cardiovascular Health: Rowing is a cardio exercise that can help improve your heart and lung function. It increases your heart rate and helps deliver oxygen to your muscles, making them more efficient.

These are just some of the benefits of using a rowing machine; let’s discuss them in detail below.

Firstly, rowing machines provide a full-body workout. You must use your arms, core, leg, and back muscles simultaneously when using a rowing machine. This movement improves your overall strength and muscle tone, making it ideal for those looking to build their strength and stamina.

Rowing machines are also gentle on your joints. Unlike other cardio exercises like running or jumping, rowing machines are low-impact, making them less stressful on your knees. This makes them suitable for people with conditions like osteoarthritis, as it reduces the risk of injury to your joints.

Secondly, regular use of a rowing machine can improve your cardiovascular health. Rowing is a cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart rate up and works all your major muscle groups. This increases your heart strength and your capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles, making your body more efficient when exercising. People with cardiovascular disease can benefit from regular use of a rowing machine as it improves their heart health and reduces their chances of other cardiovascular complications.

Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine Explanation
Low-Impact Exercise Rowing machines are gentle on your joints, making them ideal for people with bad knees.
Calorie Burn Rowing machines can help you burn calories faster, making it an effective way to manage your weight.
Muscle Toning Rowing machines work your muscles in your arms, legs, core and back, improving overall strength and muscle tone.
Cardiovascular Health Rowing machines are an excellent cardio workout that can improve your heart and lung function, reducing your risk of heart disease and other complications.

Overall, using a rowing machine has several benefits, and it can be an effective way to stay fit, manage your weight, and promote overall health and wellness. It is a low-impact exercise that can be suitable for people with bad knees or injuries, making it a versatile piece of workout equipment ideal for everyone.

The Impact of Rowing on Knee Joints

When it comes to exercising with bad knees, certain activities can do more harm than good. The repetitive impact and pressure put on the joint can cause further damage and inflammation. However, rowing may be a low-impact alternative to traditional forms of cardio, like running or cycling.

  • Low impact: Rowing is a low-impact exercise because your feet never leave the pedals, and therefore, there is no impact on your knees. Additionally, the rowing machine’s motion includes a smooth, continuous gliding motion that provides a gentle, non-jarring workout that doesn’t take a toll on your knees.
  • Full-body workout: Rowing is a full-body workout that strengthens your muscles, including your knees’ supporting muscles. As a result, your knees will have better stability and support, which can help reduce pain and improve function.
  • Range of motion: Rowing can help improve your range of motion by moving your knees through a wide range of motion. The movement can help lubricate the joints and reduce stiffness in the knee area, which can also be helpful for those with arthritis.

The Benefits of Rowing with Bad Knees

Rowing provides a comprehensive cardiovascular workout that is beneficial to anyone looking to work out in spite of bad knees. Here are some additional benefits of rowing:

  • Low-impact: Rowing does not put the same kind of pressure on your knees as running or jogging, making it a great option for people with bad knees.
  • Full-body workout: Rowing is a full-body workout, which means you are working all of your muscles, especially those in your legs and core.
  • Improves cardiovascular health: Rowing is a great cardiovascular exercise that works your heart, lungs, and circulatory system, helping to improve overall cardiovascular health.

Using Proper Form

While rowing can be a great exercise option for those with bad knees, it is essential to use proper form to avoid injury or exacerbating existing knee conditions. Here are some tips to help maintain proper form when rowing:

  • Keep your back straight and core engaged throughout the entire motion.
  • Don’t lock your knees when you push back. Keep them slightly bent throughout the motion
  • Use your legs and core to drive the motion, not your arms
  • Start with low resistance and gradually increase the intensity as you get used to the motion and build up strength.


While rowing on a machine has many benefits, including low impact, full-body workout, and cardiovascular health, it’s important to remember that proper form is essential. By maintaining proper form and slowly increasing the intensity of your workouts, you can experience the benefits of rowing while minimizing the risk of injury or exacerbation of knee problems.

Pros Cons
Low impact exercise Some may find rowing uncomfortable or too tough for their knees.
Full body workout May not provide the same cardiovascular benefits as high-impact exercises like running or jumping
Improves cardiovascular health Some may have difficulty maintaining proper form at first

Overall, rowing on a machine can be a great exercise option for those with bad knees seeking a low-impact, full-body workout that improves cardiovascular health. By using proper form and slowly increasing intensity, it can be an excellent addition to any fitness routine.

Alternative Exercises for Individuals with Bad Knees

Rowing machines are a great option for full-body workouts, but for individuals with bad knees, it may not always be the best solution. However, there are still plenty of alternative exercises that can provide similar benefits.

  • Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can provide a great cardiovascular workout. It takes the pressure off your knees and can help to improve your range of motion.
  • Cycling: Cycling is another low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints. You can use a stationary bike or go for a bike ride outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine.
  • Elliptical Trainer: An elliptical trainer is a great alternative to a rowing machine. It provides a full-body workout and is gentle on the joints.

If you still want to use a rowing machine, there are modifications you can make to reduce the impact on your knees. You can adjust the foot straps to provide more support and use a slower, smoother stroke to reduce the impact on your knees.

It’s important to choose exercises that are appropriate for your fitness level and consult with a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any new exercise regimen.

Adjusting a rowing machine for knee comfort

Rowing is an excellent low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints, making it a perfect option for individuals with knee pain. However, improper use of a rowing machine can cause knee strain, leading to more discomfort and possibly long-term damage. By adjusting your rowing machine to ensure knee comfort, you can reap the benefits without causing further pain.

  • Adjusting footrests – the footrests are the foundation of your rowing machine workout. Adjusting the footrests to ensure they are at the correct height can help alleviate knee strain. The key is to make sure your shins are vertical when your feet are in the straps. If your feet are too low, your knees will bend more, making it difficult to achieve a complete leg extension when rowing. By contrast, if your feet are too high, your heels may come off the footrest, causing excess stress on your knees.
  • Checking seat height – it’s essential to adjust your seat height to ensure you can maintain proper rowing form. If your seat is too low, your knees may rise too high, exacerbating knee pain. At the same time, a seat that is too high can place extra pressure on your ankles and hips. As a general rule, your knees should be slightly bent when you are at the end of your forward rowing motion.
  • Modifying stroke rate – rowing machines have adjustable resistance settings, allowing you to increase or decrease your stroke rate. By slowing your stroke rate down, you can ensure that your knee joints don’t have to work too hard. On the other hand, if you find that you are not getting enough of a workout, then gradually increasing your stroke rate could help make up the difference, reducing shock and impact on the knees in the process.

Another option to consider is using a rowing machine that is specifically designed to be gentle on knees, such as a hydraulic rowing machine. However, this isn’t always necessary if you follow the basic guidelines of adjusting a standard rower for knee comfort.

With proper adjustments and technique, using a rowing machine can help build strength, increase cardiovascular endurance, and improve overall fitness levels without causing knee pain. So next time you hit the gym, don’t hesitate to give the rowing machine a try and experience the many benefits it has to offer.

Proper rowing form for individuals with bad knees

Rowing machine exercise is a low-impact cardiovascular workout that is gentle on your joints. However, it is important for individuals with bad knees to follow proper rowing form to avoid any unnecessary strain on the knees. Here are some tips for maintaining proper form while rowing:

  • Start with proper seating alignment. Sit with your back straight and shoulders relaxed while ensuring that your feet are firmly planted on the footrest.
  • Remember to drive through your legs. To maintain proper form, initiate the stroke with a leg press down. Push through your heels, extend your legs and remain seated upright.
  • Engage your core muscles. As you drive through your legs, lean back slightly while engaging your core muscles. Keep your arms extended and shoulders relaxed.

By following these tips and maintaining proper form, you can ensure a low-impact workout while avoiding any unnecessary strain on your knees.

It is also important to adjust the resistance level in order to maintain proper form and avoid overexertion. A lower resistance level may be more appropriate for those with bad knees. Overexertion can cause unnecessary pain or injury.

If you’re unsure about proper form, there are a number of online resources and instructional videos that can help you to maintain correct posture and form while rowing.

Common Errors in Rowing Form How to Fix it
Rounded lower back during the drive phase Focus on keeping your back straight by engaging your core muscles throughout the stroke.
Hunching your shoulders Drop your shoulders, relax and keep them away from your ears.
Using too much arm pull or not enough leg drive Remember to start each stroke with a leg press, rather than pulling with your arms. This will ensure proper form and reduce any strain on your upper body.

By paying close attention to your form and making adjustments when necessary, you can enjoy the full benefits of rowing while avoiding any unnecessary stress on your knees. Happy rowing!

Utilizing Proper Footwear for Rowing and Knee Support

If you have bad knees, it’s crucial to choose the right footwear when using a rowing machine. Wearing the proper footwear helps to distribute the weight and pressure of the stroke evenly across your feet.

Here are some tips for choosing the right shoes when using a rowing machine:

  • Opt for shoes with good arch support to prevent your feet from flattening out during the stroke, which can put added pressure on your knees.
  • Look for shoes that have a non-slip sole to prevent your feet from sliding around on the footplates. This will help you maintain proper form and keep your knees stable.
  • Choose shoes that fit snugly but not too tightly. Tight shoes can restrict blood flow to your feet, while loose shoes can cause your feet to move around too much during the stroke, leading to knee instability.

Investing in a high-quality pair of rowing shoes can provide much-needed support and cushioning for your knees while you work out on the machine. Make sure to try out different types of rowing shoes to find the pair that works best for you.

Pros Cons
Good arch support helps prevent knee pain Can be expensive
Non-slip sole promotes good form May take time to adjust to a new type of shoe
Snug fit ensures stability

Wearing proper footwear is just one of the ways you can protect your knees while using a rowing machine. In combination with knee support and proper form, the right shoes can help you stay injury-free and get the most out of your workouts.

Combining rowing with physical therapy for knee rehabilitation

Rowing is not only a great exercise for cardiovascular health and overall fitness, but it can also be an effective tool for knee rehabilitation. Combining rowing with physical therapy can help improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility in the knees.

  • Low-impact exercise: Rowing is a low-impact exercise, which means it does not put as much stress on the knees as activities like running or jumping. This makes it a safer option for those with knee injuries or pain.
  • Improving range of motion: Rowing can help improve range of motion in the knees by moving them through a full range of motion with each stroke.
  • Strengthening muscles: Rowing works the muscles in the legs, hips, and core, which can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knees and improve knee stability.

Incorporating rowing into a knee rehabilitation program can provide a variety of benefits. Below are some tips for incorporating rowing into a physical therapy routine:

  • Consult with a physical therapist: Before starting any exercise program, it is important to consult with a physical therapist. They can help determine if rowing is a safe and effective exercise for your specific knee injury or condition.
  • Start slow: Begin with low resistance and short sessions to avoid putting too much stress on the knees. Gradually increase resistance and duration as strength and stability improve.
  • Proper form is key: Maintaining proper form is important to prevent injury and ensure a successful rehabilitation. Make sure to engage the core and keep the back straight throughout the rowing motion.
Benefits of combining rowing with physical therapy for knee rehabilitation:
– Low-impact exercise
– Improved range of motion
– Strengthening muscles
– Safe and effective for knee rehabilitation

Overall, combining rowing with physical therapy for knee rehabilitation can be an effective and safe way to improve knee health. It is important to consult with a physical therapist and start slow to avoid exacerbating any knee injuries or pain.

Rowing Machine Models with Low Impact Features for Knee Comfort

Rowing machines are a great way to get a full body workout while minimizing impact on the knees. However, not all rowing machines are created equal when it comes to knee comfort. Here are some rowing machine models with low impact features for a knee-friendly workout:

  • WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine: With a unique water flywheel design, the WaterRower offers smooth and low-impact resistance. It also has a contoured seat for added comfort.
  • Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine: The Concept2 Model D has adjustable footrests and a comfortable ergonomic handle for a custom fit. It also has a damper that allows for varying resistance levels.
  • Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine: This rowing machine uses magnetic resistance, which is quiet and smooth. It also has a cushioned seat and non-slip handlebars for added comfort.

Aside from choosing the right rowing machine model, there are other low impact features to consider:

1. Adjustable Footrests: Proper foot placement is crucial for knee comfort. Adjustable footrests allow for a customized fit and proper alignment of the legs.

2. Ergonomic Handle: A comfortable handle with a non-slip grip can reduce strain on the hands and wrists, which can affect knee comfort due to compensating for discomfort in other areas.

3. Contoured Seat: A contoured seat can provide added support and comfort for the hips and lower back, which can alleviate stress on the knees.

4. Resistance Levels: Being able to adjust the resistance levels can allow for a customized workout that minimizes impact on the knees while still providing an effective workout.

Model Low Impact Features
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Unique water flywheel design, contoured seat
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine Adjustable footrests, ergonomic handle, damper for varying resistance levels
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine Magnetic resistance, cushioned seat, non-slip handlebars

So, if you’re looking for a low-impact workout that’s easy on the knees, a rowing machine can be a great option. Just be sure to choose a model with the right features and adjust them properly for the best results.

Customer Reviews of Rowing Machine Use for Individuals with Bad Knees

When it comes to choosing the right exercise equipment for individuals with knee problems, it’s important to consider customer reviews from those who have actually used the equipment. Here are some of the customer reviews of rowing machines for bad knees:

  • “I have bad knees and have been using a rowing machine for the past year. It has been the best thing for my knee pain. The low impact of rowing has helped me to stay active and improve my overall fitness without causing damage to my knees.” – Sarah
  • “I was hesitant to try out a rowing machine due to my bad knees, but after some research and reading reviews, I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did! I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my knee pain since I started rowing regularly and it’s become my go-to exercise machine.” – Jack
  • “I have arthritis in my knees and have been using a rowing machine for a few months now. At first, I was worried it might make my knee pain worse, but it’s actually been a great low-impact workout. I even find myself able to do some higher intensity workouts without any discomfort.” – Michelle

These customer reviews provide a positive outlook on using a rowing machine for individuals with bad knees. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s experience may be different, but these testimonials showcase how a rowing machine has helped others manage their knee pain while still being able to exercise and improve their overall health.

For best results, it’s always recommended to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have existing knee problems.

Wrap Up: Happy Rowing!

Now you know that a rowing machine can be a great low-impact exercise option for those with bad knees. Just be sure to adjust your technique, resistance, and duration according to your level of comfort and ability. Remember, always consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you back here for more fitness tips and advice! Happy rowing!