Cycling Knee Pain and how to avoid it!

Cycling Knee Pain

is a common condition even though cycling is a low impact exercise. Knee pain can occur as a result of poor technique or position and the repetitive action of cycling. If left unattended, knee pain can hinder a lot of your activities. So it’s best to deal with it as soon as it starts because you can trigger an inflammatory response. Increasing micro-trauma from continuing with the repetitive activity eventually leads to a more serious injury. But pain associated with cycling has a variety of reasons and you may need to go through a short checklist in order to identify your problem:

A common cycling-related injury is called chondromalacia, and has to do with irritation of the cartilage pad in the socket which provides lubrication for this joint. An edge of this cartilage can get worn out causing irritation and inflammation. What’s needed is to strengthen the quadriceps muscles which run along the front of the thigh and along side the front of the kneecap. One of the common exercises is to sit in a chair with one leg at a time held out straight, unsupported. You can also use a weight which is placed on the foot for this exercise. If you make a conscious effort to avoid lateral knee movement during the pedal stroke, you’ll find that your body soon starts to learn to cycle in a straight line.

You might have started cycling recently and maybe overdoing it slightly. If this is the case, take it easy in the beginning and instead try to focus on getting your body used to the new workout. Cycling is very repetitive; during 1 hour of cycling, a rider may average up to 5,000 pedal revolutions. Even the smallest amount of misalignment can lead to an unsatisfactory work out and pain.

You may have the wrong seat and saddle position. If the seat is too low, too much stress is being placed on the knee from the patellar and quadriceps tendons. If the seat is too high, pain may develop behind the knee. So your seat height is very important so that you don’t put unnecessary force on your knees. Also, If you find that your hips rock back and forth when you pedal it means that your legs have to stretch to far to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. If your hips rock when pedalling, lower your saddle until you achieve a smooth pedal stroke.

Some knee problems result from incorrect placement of shoe cleats. Everybody has a natural angle that each of their feet prefers to be at. When you walk or ride with plain pedals, your foot assumes this angle without any difficulty. If you use cleated shoes and matching pedals, it is important that the cleat is adjusted so as to permit your foot to be at its natural angle. If your cleats are not adjusted well, the resulting twist on your lower leg will affect the alignment of the knee joint, and cause serious knee pain.

Another primary cause of knee problems is over-stress as the result of using a gear that is too high. Try to use a gear that allows you to pedal quickly, from 70 to 100 strokes per minute. It can be as simple as individual cycling anatomy which is causing the pain. Cyclists with slight differences in leg length may have knee pain because the seat height is only adjusted for one side. Shoe inserts can help correct this problem. Try using knee braces to give you that added support and stability to your knee.

Nutrition is vitally important for cyclists. Although cycling has a lower impact on your joints than many sports, it can still cause wear and tear, particularly with misalignment. Your body will by and large repair itself given good quality nutrition. Many joint problems can be minimised or avoided altogether with optimal nutrition as this provides the building blocks needed for repair. A lot of the time, nutritional issues only really show up when an injury occurs or is slow to heal.

Please see our guide “The Health Crisis” for more details. You can get a free copy by putting your email address into the form on the top right hand side of this page.

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