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Is A Stationary Bike Good For Arthritic Knees?

Dr. Sisson/ April 3, 2023

So YES! A Stationary Bike Good For Arthritic Knees.

The main reason a stationary bike is good for your knees is that is allows repetitive pain-free motion in your knees.

When you move your knees repetitively, it secretes a lubricating fluid called synovial fluid.

This fluid is like oil in a creaky door; it helps the joints move more smoothly without the joint surfaces rubbing on one another, causing grinding and inflammation.

Using A Stationary Bike For Knee Range Of Motion

Another advantage of using a recumbent bike is that if you've lost some range of motion in your knees, particularly in bending (flexion) range of motion a stationary bike can help restore your range of motion.

How To Use A Recumbent Bike For Knee Range Of Motion

You can adjust the seat of a recumbent bike forwards or backward to get the appropriate amount of knee extension and knee bending or flexure.

Finding a position on the bike where you're just about at full extension but not quite locking out and hyper-extending is ideal.

Then pedal through the range of motion as you're able.

To increase knee bending (flexion) more, move the seat closer to the pedals.

To increase knee straightening (extension) more, move the seat farther away from the pedals.

Is A Stationary Bike Better That Walking?

When it comes to walking is definitely the best exercise for knee arthritis. However, walking may be uncomfortable, so a stationary bike is a good alternative if you have knee arthritis.

The reason walking is so good for knee arthritis is because it's a weight-bearing exercise whereas biking is largely non-weightbearing.

If you think about your cartilage on the ends of your knee joint like sponges, imagine those sponges have soaked up that lubricating fluid or synovial fluid.

Now, when you put pressure on the two joint surfaces and have that repetitive depression and distraction, it helps release the synovial fluid better.

Your body also responds to the demands placed on it, so if you're bearing weight on your joints, it helps get them more tolerant to bearing weight.

So ideally, you do want to walk if you have knee arthritis.

However, if you're having a lot of knee pain and it keeps you from walking, or if you just want to cross-train or be able to go for a longer period than your knees currently allow, then a stationary bike is a good alternative to allow you to get longer periods of exercise.

Getting more exercise means more blood flow to your joints.  Increased blood flow means more nutrients and more oxygen getting to your joints.

What Else Is A Stationary Bike Good For?

Using a stationary bike also helps with your general health.

For example, using a stationary bike helps:

  • cardiovascular (heart) health
  • lipid profiles (i.e. cholesterol)
  • keeping your blood sugar in control (diabetes prevention / management)
  • losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight

As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to get longer durations of aerobic exercise.

However, if you can only walk for a certain period of time because of knee arthritis, then using a stationary bike can allow you to get these general health benefits.

What Else Besides A Stationary Bike Is Good For Knee Arthritis?

Ultimately to get rid of knee arthritis pain, you need to find and treat the root cause of the pain.

And guess what...

Cartilage loss alone isn't enough to cause knee arthritis pain.

Thera are lots of people with REALLY UGLY looking knee x-rays that have no knee pain at all.

That means that your x-ray does not determine your pain.

Knee arthritis pain is more from faulty movement mechanics that cause inflammation. 

Yes, cartilage loss can make you more prone to developing inflammation.

But often small changes in movement can make BIG improvements in your knee pain, even if you have bone-on-bone knee arthritis.

If you'd like to discover how you can make improvements in YOUR knee pain, request a Free Discovery Visit with one of our specialists.