Much like any other pain, cycling knee pain can be very distressing.
Many people are left wondering what’s wrong with their knees after they feel discomfort while cycling.
Painful joints, swelling, and a feeling of weakness and instability can cause even more concern.
In this article, you will get to know the most common types of knee pain faced by cyclists today, why they are experiencing pain in their knees when cycling, and how they can treat it if necessary.
Everyone from beginners to experienced cyclists can follow the below tips to make their ride more thrilling and enjoyable.
So, let’s get started!
What is Cycling Knee Pain
Cycling knee pain is a common injury that is often caused by the repetitive stress on the patellar tendon, which attaches the knee cap to the shinbone. The patellar tendon is susceptible to tearing when overused and often ruptures early in an injury.
When cycling knee pain is diagnosed early, rest and treatment can usually resolve the problem. However, if cycling knee pain goes untreated or is not addressed quickly, it can progress into more serious issues such as quadriceps tendonitis or a meniscus tear.
If these conditions are left untreated, they can result in long-term disability and even surgery. If you experience any symptoms that suggest you may have a cycling knee injury, consult your physician immediately.
Remember that cycling knee pain is very common and can be resolved with appropriate treatment & physical therapy.
It typically occurs in cyclists who are new to cycling or who have not been exercising regularly.
The muscles in your thigh and calf get tired quickly when cycling, so they can’t provide as much support as they should for your kneecap. Over time, this increased stress can cause inflammation and damage to the collateral ligaments and cartilage that make up your knee.
Other factors that can contribute to cycling knee pain include torque on the femur (thighbone). When you pedal, the efficient muscles in your thigh pull on the top of your thighbone in a way that puts pressure on your kneecap.
This type of pressure is particularly likely to happen if you’re riding in a position that puts extra strain on your hamstring muscles or if you have poor technique when pedaling.
It is, therefore, important that you always cycle in accordance with suggested reliable tricks and techniques to get the most out of your biking experience and avoid knee joint pain.
Five Most Common Knee Pain Areas for Bike Riders
You can suffer from knee pain for a number of reasons, but the five most common ones are listed below. The information here will help you identify the type of knee pain you have and how to treat it at home.
In case you do not feel relief from pain after using suggested tips, or you still have any questions, please consult with your doctor.
1. Anterior Knee Pain
Knee pain is one of the most common complaints in the population, and it can be a problem for cyclists as well. Cyclists are particularly at risk for anterior knee pain because their bike puts constant pressure on the front of their knee.
Anterior knee pain can be a sign of some other serious issues, such as patellofemoral syndrome (PS), iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), or meniscus tear.
The most common type of anterior knee pain in cyclists is a patellofemoral syndrome (PS).
PS is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the front of the knee. It’s often caused by overuse and can be exacerbated by deep squats, jumping movements, and running on hard surfaces.
Another type of anterior knee pain in cyclists is ITBS.
ITBS is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the IT band, a band of tissue that runs along the outside of your knee. This type of pain is usually caused by excessive stretching or workouts that put stress on the IT band.
Finally, anterior knee pain can also be caused by meniscus tears. A meniscus is a type of cushioning cartilage located between two bones in your knee.
Tears in this cartilage can cause inflammation and pain and are particularly common in athletes who do lots of jumping and running.
How to treat Anterior Knee Pain
Make sure your saddle is set to the right height so that you pedal at the correct pace. Riding at a too-high or too-low speed can aggravate anterior knee pain.
Position Leg Straight
Try keeping the leg as straight as possible this helps keep the joint in its proper alignment and further reduces pressure on the kneecap.
Build Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO) Muscles
These muscles help balance patella stabilizing forces and ultimately recover knee pain.
Seated cable row: Hold a weight in your left hand and position the cable pulley so that your shoulder is above the handlebars. Bend your right knee and grab the handle with your right hand.
Keeping your leg out straight, pull the cable toward your chest. Pause and hold for two seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm. Do three sets of 10 reps each.
Glute bridge: Lie on your back with feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. Drive your heels into the ground, lifting yourself into a sitting position.
Quickly bridge your legs toward the ceiling, maintaining contact between your heels and the floor throughout the movement. Reverse the motion and return to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 reps each.
2. Medial Knee Pain
Medial knee pain is typically caused by a deterioration of cartilage. It can also follow a sports injury or other type of trauma to your knee.
Cartilage is a tough, elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in your knee. It helps cushion your complicated joints and keep them moving smoothly. When cartilage starts to wear down, it can cause medial knee pain.
How to Treat Medial Knee Pain
There are several things you can do to reduce or prevent this type of aching pain:
Take regular breaks from strenuous activity
A lot of medial knee pain can be avoided by taking regular breaks from strenuous activity. If you’re having trouble walking without feeling pain, try cutting back on the amount of time you spend on your feet.
However, even if you don’t enjoy physical activity, you still need to exercise for overall health and fitness. Exercise releases endorphins, which have anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce swelling and pain.
Wear compression socks
Wearing compression socks can help improve blood flow and reduce swelling. Make sure the socks fit snugly and are level across your entire foot (not just the heel).
3. Lateral Knee Pain
Knee pain that appears on the outer side (or lateral side) is known as lateral knee pain. Injury is the most common cause of this pain, but inflammation inside a tough band of tissue, the meniscus, can also result in it.
Other causes of this pain include arthritis, ligament damage, and patellofemoral syndrome (a condition that affects the quadriceps muscle).
How to deal with Lateral Knee Pain
Stretching Outside Muscles
Stretching the muscles on the outside of your leg can help to relieve lateral knee pain. To stretch the leg muscles, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms stretched out to your sides.
Bend your left knee outwards and place your hand on top of it, then pull your toes towards your shins. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
In order to prevent excessive wear on cleats, they should be checked regularly. If they’re showing signs of wear, it may be time to replace them. Also, make sure to check the cleat position while riding the bike.
4. Posterior Knee Pain
Posterior knee pain is a condition that can occur when the pressure on the back of your knee when you straighten your leg is too great. This can cause pain and swelling in the back of your knee joint.
Injuries to the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are the most common cause of posterior knee pain, accounting for approximately 70% of cases.
Other common causes of posterior knee pain include meniscectomy (removal of a meniscus), tendinitis, bursitis, and arthritis.
How to treat Posterior Knee Pain
Foam Roller & Stretching Posterior Chain (i.e., Gluteus, Hamstrings, Calves)
Foam rolling can help to decrease inflammation and tension in the surrounding muscles, while stretching can help to improve range of motion and flexibility.
Adjusting Saddle Height & Position
If your saddle is too high, it will put pressure on your backside and cause pain in your knee. If your saddle is too far back, it will cause your knees to angle inward, which will also cause pain.
To check if your saddle is too high or too far back, you can use a seat post height adjustment tool or a hacksaw to adjust the saddle until you feel comfortable.
You can also try moving the saddle forward or backward until you find a position that doesn’t cause any pain.
5. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
One other most common type of cycling knee pain is a patellofemoral syndrome (PFS), which is often caused by excessive cycling in the knees with insufficient rest.
PFS typically results in stiffness and soreness in the quadriceps muscle and can cause debilitating knee pain.
How to Cure Patellofemoral Pain Syndrom
Before you begin riding, make sure to warm up your muscles by doing some light cardio or stretching. This will help avoid injuries in the first place and speed up the healing process.
Focus on alignment and technique
When treating knee pain, it’s important to think about how your knees are aligned and how you’re using them. Improper technique can lead to further injury.
Even if you don’t have any pain, maintaining strength in your knee can help prevent future problems. Strength training can also help improve your balance and coordination, which can be helpful when it comes time to rehab your knee.
Pick Shoes Wisely
Choose shoes that fit well and provide adequate support for your feet and ankles. In particular, avoid high heels, which can aggravate patellofemoral pain.
Does Weakness in Glute & Core Cause Knee Pain?
Cyclists tend to focus more on strengthening the quads and calves, these areas being shown as an impressive advantage in the eyes of professional athletes. But it is often forgotten that the leg muscles work from the core – the abs, glutes, and leg flexors.
When cyclists neglect their glutes and core, they are putting themselves at risk of developing knee pain due to weak muscles around the joint.
The Gluteus maximus is a large muscle located on the front of your pelvis. It surrounds your hip socket and helps you lift your rear end off the ground. The Gluteus maximus also contracts when you squat, lunge, and deadlift.
Weak gluteus maximus muscles can cause knee pain because they can’t generate enough force to support your body weight.
Cyclist’s core muscles are located deep within your abdomen, below your ribcage. They include your lower abs (abs), obliques (side abdominal muscles), and Rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscle).
Core muscles help stabilize your spine and keep you upright when you’re walking or riding. When they’re weak, core muscles can’t resist gravity which contributes to lower back pain.
If you experience knee pain when cycling, make sure to strengthen your glutes and core muscles. These areas will give you the strength you need to support your body weight and reduce the risk of developing knee pain in the future.
Tips to Prevent Knee Pain while Biking
Cycling knee pain is a common problem that cyclists face. It can be caused by many factors, including improper bike fit, riding habits, biomechanical problems, and many more.
To prevent cycling knee pain, you need to know the causes and find ways to fix them.
1. Professional Bike Fit
It is the most common cause of cycling knee pain. Your bike should fit well and be in the correct position on your body to minimize leg movement and provide support.
A poorly fitted bike will cause you to move your legs more than necessary, which can create pressure on your knees.
2. Improper Riding Habits
You also need to avoid riding with improper riding habits. For example, you shouldn’t lean too far forward or backward while cycling, as this, will put extra pressure on your knees.
You also need to maintain a consistent speed so that your bike doesn’t have to work as hard and create more pressure on your knees.
3. Biomechanical Problems
Cycling knee pain can also be caused by biomechanical problems. These problems include excessive anterior pelvic tilt (APT), weak gluteus maximus muscles, and poor neuromuscular control.
To fix these issues, you’ll need to work on fixing your posture and strengthening your glutes and hamstrings.
Make sure you have proper alignment when riding a bike.
To ensure good alignment, make sure your hips and knees are directly aligned when you sit down in an upright position and put your feet flat on the ground at the pedals.
If you have any doubts about your alignment, consult a professional cyclist or physiotherapist before riding.
5. Avoid excessive flexion of the joint
When you bend your knee too much, your thigh bone muscles can create tension on the kneecap.
To avoid this, keep your knee slightly bent when you’re cycling and resist the temptation to hyperextend (extend) the joint.
6. Build Mileage Gradually
When you first begin cycling, start with low mileage and increase it gradually, not exceeding 10 percent weekly. This will help prevent knee pain.
Bottom Line — Knee Pain from Cycling
Cycling knee pain can be a real bummer, but there are ways to cope with it and get back to enjoying your favorite activity. In this article, we have covered the most common causes of cycling knee pain, how you can treat them, and what steps you should take if they persist even after following all of the recommended treatments.
Armed with this information, hopefully, you will be able to ride again without any discomfort. So, I am confident it will work great for you too. If you have any suggestions, feel free to drop us a comment below, and please like, share, and follow our Facebook Page and keep visiting our website for more guides like this.
Cycling Knee Pain — FAQs
Is it OK to do cycling with knee pain?
Both running and cycling help reduce knee pain and have numerous advantages, including increased cardiovascular health. If you have never done a cycling workout, gradually gain strength and endurance, and you will be great to go.
Why do my knees hurt after cycling?
The common knee pain caused by the bike is actually caused by “overdoing.” You travel faster and heavier than the rest of you can. This straining causes damage to the connective tissues and inflammation, which ultimately hurts your knees.
Why do I get knee pain when cycling?
Generally, cycling knees are affected through patella – femoral syndrome. Symptoms are typically caused by excessive athletic activity or traumatic injury to knee joints (in bikers, overuse may also lead to the problem). Malalignments of the patella can also lead to problems and even worsen them.
However, this does not mean you should stop cycling. Do it but start with a slow pace and gradually increase it weekly.
Can biking make knee pain worse?
Research indicates over half of cyclists experience persistent pain in their knees when attempting to exercise.
Does cycling help with knee pain? It’s not true. Cycling will improve your general fitness and improve joint mobility. Knee pain can be better managed by doing proper stretches and alignment.