I still remember the day I first laid eyes on a rowing machine in the gym, thinking, “Is this the answer to my workout woes, or will it wreak havoc on my knees?” 

As someone who’s experienced their fair share of knee aches and pains, I was eager to find an answer to the age-old question of “Are rowing machines bad for knees or not?”

With curiosity and caution, I ventured into the world of rowing machines, determined to uncover the truth behind their impact on our knees.

I discovered the truth and now, I’m here to share my findings with you! 

So grab a seat, and let’s embark on this rowing adventure together! 🚣🏼‍♀️

So… Are Rowing Machines Bad for Knees?

Purple infographic with an image of a man having knee pain. The text displays: So… Are Rowing Machines Bad for Knees

The good news is that rowing machines are generally considered to be easy on the knees. Hallelujah! 😇

You see when you’re rowing, the motion is low-impact and smooth. It’s not like you’re out there running on hard surfaces, pounding away at your knee joints. 

In fact, rowing can help strengthen the muscles around your knees, which is great for preventing knee pain. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone!

However, if you’re already dealing with knee pain or have a history of knee injuries, you should be extra cautious. 

As with other exercise machines, improper use of a rowing machine can potentially lead to problems. 

So, to keep those knees in tip-top shape, ensure you’re using proper form (yeah, you know who you are, Mr. or Ms. Sloucher!).

Rowing Machines: A Knee-sy Breezy Solution for Bad Knees

Purple infographic with an image of a woman on the rowing machine. The text displays: Rowing Machines_ A Knee-sy Breezy Solution for Bad Knees

You might be thinking, “If rowing machines are so gentle on the knees, why are they good for people with bad knees?” Excellent question, my dear reader! 

Let’s dive into the wonderful world of rowing machines and explore how they can actually be a knight in shining armor for those suffering from knee pain.

Knees’ BFF: Joint Support

One of the reasons rowing machines are great for people with bad knees is the joint support they provide. When you’re rowing, you engage your leg muscles and help stabilize your knee joints. 

This can be especially helpful if you’re dealing with chronic knee pain or recovering from a knee injury. 

By strengthening the muscles around your knee, you’re essentially giving your knee joint a strong, supportive hug.

And who doesn’t love a good hug, right?

Easy on the Knees: Low Impact

Another advantage of rowing machine workouts is their low-impact nature. 

Unlike high-impact exercises like running or jumping, rowing places less stress on your knee joints, ankle joints, and the rest of your body.
This makes it an ideal exercise for those with knee problems or patellofemoral stress syndrome. 

The smooth, rhythmic motion of rowing also ensures that your body weight is distributed evenly, preventing any jarring movements that might aggravate your knees. 

Plus, you can wear your fancy indoor rowing shoes to provide even more support and comfort!

Shed Pounds, Save Knees: Weight Loss

Let’s not forget the fabulous weight loss benefits of rowing machines! As you burn those calories and shed some pounds, you’re also reducing the load on your knees. 

Less body weight means less pressure on your knee joints, which can help prevent knee pain and further knee injuries. 

Rowing is a full-body workout that not only targets your leg and butt muscles but also your upper body and core.

This means you’ll be torching calories like there’s no tomorrow, all while giving your knees the gentle treatment they deserve. Talk about a win-win situation!

Knee-d to Know: Avoiding Knee Pain on the Rowing Machine

Purple infographic with an image of a woman having knee pain. The text displays: Knee-d to Know_ Avoiding Knee Pain on the Rowing Machine

If you’re looking to get the most out of your rowing machine workouts without causing a ruckus in your knee joints, then you’ve come to the right place! 

Here are some tips to help you avoid knee pain and prevent knee injuries while rowing, all while keeping things light-hearted yet efficient.

#1 Knee-ver Lose Sight: Track Straight Forward

When you’re rowing, proper rowing technique is key. 🔑

Make sure your knees are tracking straight forward during the entire motion. 

This helps keep your knee joint in proper alignment and reduces the risk of knee problems. 

Think of your knees as little soldiers marching in a straight line—they’ve got a mission to accomplish, and they need to stay on track!

#2 Don’t Be a Slide Show: Limit Forward Slides

I know you’re eager to jump on that machine to get your cardio workout in, but sliding too far forward on the rowing machine can put unnecessary strain on your knees. 

Focus on maintaining a smooth, controlled motion without overextending your legs. Your hip flexors will thank you, too!

#3 Lock-Out? Knee-ver Gonna Happen

One of the most serious injuries that can happen while using a rowing machine is locking out your knees. This can cause immense pressure on your knee joints and lead to injury. 

To avoid this, make sure you maintain a slight bend in your knees throughout the rowing motion, even at the end of each stroke. Your knees will appreciate the extra love!

#4 Happy Feet: Correct Foot Placement

Proper foot placement is crucial to preventing knee pain and injuries on the rowing machine.

Ensure your feet are securely strapped in and positioned with the balls of your feet on the footplates. 

This will help distribute your body weight evenly and promote proper knee flexion during the rowing motion.

#5 Give Rowing a Break: Rest Days are Key

As much as you may love rowing, it’s essential to give your body and knees a break. 

Mixing up your workout routine with other low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, can help prevent overuse injuries and keep your knees feeling fresh.

#6 A Shoe-in: Switch It Up

Investing in a good pair of indoor rowing shoes can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your knees. 

A supportive shoe with proper arch support and cushioning will reduce the stress on your ankle joints and knees during rowing workouts.

#7 Strapped for Success: Smart Strapping

When strapping in on a rowing machine, make sure the straps are snug but not overly tight. 

Overly tight straps can cause your feet to go numb or create unnecessary pressure on your ankle joints and knees.

#8 Warm-Up, Cool Down: A Knee-sential Routine

Never underestimate the importance of warming up and cooling down before and after your rowing workouts. 

Proper warm-up exercises, such as dynamic stretches and light cardio, prepare your body for the workout ahead. 

A cool-down routine, including static stretches and foam rolling, helps your muscles recover and reduces the risk of injury.

#9 Ice to Meet You: Have Ice Packs Ready

If you have existing knee pain or bad knees, keeping ice or ice packs nearby during rowing workouts can provide relief in cases of discomfort. 

Icing your knees after an intense rowing session can also help reduce inflammation and alleviate any potential pain. Remember, happy knees make for a happy rower!

A Final Row Before We Go

And there you have it! 

We’ve explored the benefits of rowing machines for people with bad knees, discussed how to prevent knee pain and injuries while rowing, and shared some essential tips for maintaining proper form and technique. 

With this newfound knowledge, you can confidently glide through your rowing workouts, knowing that your knees are well taken care of. 

So go on, put on those indoor rowing shoes, and hit the rowing machine with confidence, all while keeping those precious knees happy and healthy!


Yes, rowing machines are generally okay for bad knees as they provide a low-impact, full-body workout that supports and strengthens the knee joints.

No, rowers are typically not hard on your knees, thanks to their low-impact nature and the smooth, fluid motions involved in the exercise.

A rowing machine can be good for arthritic knees, as it offers low-impact exercise that helps to maintain joint mobility and muscle strength without putting excessive stress on the knee joints.

To use a rowing machine with bad knees, focus on proper form, avoid overextending your legs, maintain a slight bend in your knees, ensure correct foot placement, and adjust your workout frequency to allow adequate recovery time.