StairMaster & Knee Pain

Knee pain has many different causes, and the recommendations of allowed activities vary with each problem. If the knee pain is related to overuse injury, arthritis, or a mechanical problem, a StairMaster may not be recommended and may irritate the problem further. Some knee problems that benefit from strengthening of the muscles will benefit from using a StairMaster for strengthening.

Knee Pain

The knee is a complex joint and has many different parts that could cause pain. Injuries can happen that affect the ligaments, meniscus, bursa, muscles or tendons. Mechanically a loose body, locking, or dislocation of the patella can occur and cause pain and function problems. Arthritis can also be a cause of pain in the knees and is common if a previous injury has occurred. Other problems can occur with growth and development of the knee that can lead to pain.


Treatment for any pain related to exercise is protect, rest, ice, compress, and elevate the injured area. Over-the-counter pain medications may help to decrease pain and inflammation. A joint supplement is beneficial to sore joints, especially weight bearing joints. If the knee is extremely swollen, unable to bend or extend fully, unable to bear weight, deformed, red, or extremely painful, a doctor's opinion should be sought.


A StairMaster is an exercise machine that mimics the activity of climbing stairs. It provides a great workout for the cardiovascular system and can help to strengthen the muscles of the lower extremities. It can also cause higher impact on the joints on the lower extremities, including the knees. If your physician or trainer recommends avoiding high impact activities, squats, or activities that require a lot of knee bending, a StairMaster should not be used. The goal of some treatments may be to strengthen the leg muscles, especially the quadriceps muscles, and in these cases a StairMaster would be helpful.


If a StairMaster seems to irritate your knee discomfort, it would be wise to rest the body and then to try other alternatives to burn calories and build muscles. Swimming, aquatic aerobics, biking, or elliptical are recommended as low impact activities that will put the least amount of stress on the joints of the knee.

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