The wide range of exercise equipment in most gyms and fitness facilities look tempting, but may cause more harm than good. Various machines target different muscle groups and isolate those muscles to provide the most intense and beneficial workout for that particular area. People with bad backs and knees must be careful when choosing exercise equipment to avoid additional strain and injury. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, exercise should not cause pain. When in doubt, consult a physical therapist or your doctor and always stop an exercise routine if you start to feel pain.
Unlike the leg extension exercise equipment, the leg press allows you to place your entire foot on the equipment and create a more natural motion with your legs. The leg press machine emulates movements that you perform every day, such as getting up from a seated position. It also helps to strengthen the legs to alleviate pressure on the back and knees.
A recumbent bicycle is an effective machine for cardiovascular workouts that does not add stress to your bad knees or back. The user sits on a wide seat and pushes the pedals of the bike forward with legs outstretched. The seat is equipped with support for the back and usually includes resistance settings to increase the intensity of the workout without placing additional strain on the back or knees. According to the North Carolina Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, the recumbent bike is especially effective for working lower body muscles as there is little or no effort placed on the upper body. At the same time, the machine is large and uses fewer muscles overall than other pieces of exercise equipment.
An elliptical machine is a cross trainer because it provides a full-body workout at one time. The elliptical trainer places little or no stress on the knee joints. The back can be strengthened while being protected by the synchronized movements of the handlebars aligned with the pedals. With proper posture and form, the elliptical trainer is an effective piece of workout equipment for people with bad backs and knees. Most machines can be adjusted for resistance to accommodate beginners and days when your back or knees are especially bothersome. Additional resistance or inclines can provide a more intense workout to burn additional calories. Elliptical trainers are popular pieces in most gyms and fitness centers, and are widely available in a variety of sizes for home use.