How to Make your Elliptical Investment a Safe One

As fall comes to an end snow and ice are fast approaching. Morning spent scraping windshields and brewing coffee. Black ice litters the sidewalks causing an increase in slip related injuries whether you are active or not.

Keeping your joints healthy is crucial for people of all ages and ellipticals offer a low impact solution for exercise in all seasons. But shopping for an elliptical isn’t as easy as you would hope with all the different styles and manufactures you can quickly become overwhelmed with options.

I’ve got a few key points to help narrow down your search and they all stem from bio-mechanics. Biomechanics is the study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms. This subject greatly interests me and I plan on studying in that field in the near future.

The first thing you need to know is that not all ellipticals are built the same, they have different pedal spacing, different stride length and a different feel. Its important to note that just because an elliptical feels good does not mean its actually beneficial for your body.

Whether you are doing lunges, squats, yoga or biking proper knee alignment is crucial, you don’t want your knee shifting forward over your toes. This is causing some of the stress to come off of the muscles off your thigh and transferring into your knee eventually leading to pain and sensitivity in the knee called Patellofemoral Compression. It doesn’t sound pleasant and it isn’t. This can be avoided with proper knee alignment being maintained with the right elliptical. If you cater to the tallest user when determining which elliptical is best, the safety in motion will apply to as well.


So the elliptical you are interested in allows you to have proper knee alignment.  The next thing to look for is a natural ankle articulation. Naturally when you walk your back heal lifts before your toes. You want the same thing to happen on your elliptical. Some manufactures like Precor allow you to go through your natural range of motion without raising your heel; while based on the proprietary motion of other brands, we’ll want to see the allowance for heel lift at the back of the pedal motion.


The final thing to look for besides what programs you see yourself using is pedal spacing, something they call the Q factor. The narrower the Q factor the more natural it will feel on your hips. When you walk your feet land fairly close, typically inside hip width.  Any wider than that and not only can it lead to hip sensitivity, but it feels funny, try it!


With those ideas in mind you are ready to begin your search for the elliptical that suits your needs. We carry a verity of ellipticals and I would be more than happy to show you in person how all of these points come together to make a bio-mechanically correct elliptical.

Nathan Vienneau

Assistant Manager

Fitness Equipment of Calgary