Although an elliptical exerciser offers a low-impact workout designed to be used by those who experience discomfort from impact motions, you may still have some hip pain after using this type of machine. Whether this is due to minor differences between elliptical models, improper use of the equipment or a variation in body sizes, you can usually make some adjustments to alleviate this problem.
A study published in the March 2010 issue of the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" compared levels of discomfort between an elliptical machine and an arc trainer. An elliptical machine is a combination between stair-stepping and cross-country skiing, while an arc trainer uses more of a swinging motion in the legs. The study found that the participants' perceived level of hip pain was greater when using an elliptical trainer.
Many companies -- from NordicTrack to Precor -- manufacture elliptical machines. This means that every machine is manufactured differently, and will therefore perform differently. Your body may respond to one brand of machine better in the same way that certain clothing brands fit your body better than others. If you are using an elliptical and experiencing hip pain, before you give up the exercise altogether, try a different brand to see if it's a better fit for your body.
Incorrect posture during exercise can also contribute to your hip pain. The American College of Sports Medicine advises that when using an elliptical machine, keep your shoulders back, look straight ahead, tighten your core and stand up tall. When you lean forward or backward, you can put a strain on your hips and lower back. Also check for a comfortable stride -- if you feel like you are reaching your feet or arms too far in one direction, use a different machine.
Sometimes, when you find an exercise that you enjoy, you continue to do it even if you are having unpleasant sensations. If you are using an elliptical machine and are experiencing hip pain, it is probably time to change up your workout. Your hips can suffer from overuse, and pain is their way of complaining to you. Listen to your body and alternate your workouts with walking, swimming or rowing until your hip feels better.
Check the foot pedals on your elliptical machine. Your feet should fit the pedals comfortably and without sliding. Some elliptical trainers have nonslip pedals. Another precaution against hip pain is proper footwear. If your shoes are worn, replace them with quality supportive footwear.