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Common Injuries on Cardio Machines

  • Category: Sports Medicine
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Michael Nieto, M.D.

We recently spoke to Dr. Michael Nieto, non-operative sports medicine physician at Hoag Orthopedic Institute, who shared information on some common injuries caused by using cardio machines, including tips on how to treat any pain.

Q: Are injuries common with cardio machines, and if so, how can someone avoid those problems?

A: The rower, stationary bike and elliptical are all considered “low impact.” As sports medicine physicians, we tend to recommend them to patients with joint pain. Overuse injuries can be common with these machines, especially as you increase the frequency and volume of exercise too quickly early on in your training program. Lower back pain can be experienced with all three of those aforementioned cardio machines, but most commonly seen with the rower and stationary bike. It is important to ensure that you have proper seat and handle bar adjustments to allow your body proper positioning throughout the range of motion.

Iliotibial band friction syndrome is another common problem with the bike and elliptical machine. The iliotibial band is a thick, fibrous tissue that runs on the lateral hip to the lower leg. Pain from iliotibial band friction syndrome is most often felt on the lateral aspect of the knee.

Rowers and stationary bikes are also a risk for causing tendonitis of the wrist. This is caused by poor wrist position on the handle. Wrist pain can be improved with alternating grip position, rest, anti-inflammatory medications and wrist splints. For recalcitrant cases, corticosteroid injections may help.

To prevent overuse injuries, it is important to take rest days each week from the exercise machine. Additionally, it is important to work antagonistic muscles and have a thorough stretching program.