Everything you Need to Know About Causes and Prevention of Knee Pain in Cyclists



Whether you’re an amateur rider or a competitive cyclist, you will always be facing the risk of injuring yourself while training on the road or on another terrain. It is serious for competitive cyclists because they have to deal with the twin hazards of vehicle speed and traffic.

This usually leads to a variety of orthopedic injuries, including head injuries, neck injuries, and knee injuries. Even if you’re not involved in a high-speed accident, you may still find yourself dealing with a painful situation – the situation caused by knee injuries.


image credit : expertbikefit.com

As mentioned at Brianmac.co.uk, the back and neck are the basic sources of overuse injuries, with 48.8% of riders facing neck problems and almost 41.7% of them living with knee trouble. The thing is that a cyclist would pedal up to 5,000 times an hour when cycling, so the slightest incorrect distribution in load will lead to serious injuries. Read on the full article here.

Knee Pain – The Most Common Overuse Injury

The experts at Kneeclinic.info, it’s article ” Cycling Knee Problems ” believe that as cycling is an extremely repetitive activity, it is obvious to see 40% to 60% of riders acquiring some type of knee injury at some point in time. The same post shares information about a study conducted on 265 off-road cyclists and found that 30% of them acquired knee pain due to mountain biking.

Cycling Knee Problems

Actually, the overuse injuries occur after continued activity that leads to degenerative changes causing loss of flexibility, weakness, and chronic pain. The experts believe that overuse injuries usually happen when an athlete or a cyclist in this situation changes the intensity, mode, or duration of training.

It is therefore important to consider:

  • Bike anatomy
  • Training distance
  • Seasonal variations
  • Training intensity

…and several other human anatomical factors, including:

  • Mmuscle imbalance
  • Inflexibility
  • Lleg-length discrepancy
  • Patellofemoral malalignment, etc. while evaluating knee pain.

However, some of the most common knee injury causes are explained at I-team.cc. Here’s more about them.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

Every cyclist is vulnerably to knee injury, but certain issues will always lead to excruciating pain and serious consequences.

Faulty Saddle Height or Position

Faulty Saddle Height or PositionIn a detailed article published at Livestrong.com, they have explained how bicycle seat height affects your knees. They have shared the views of the late bike mechanic Sheldon Brown explaining how beneficial a correct seat height is for achieving maximum speed and improving overall efficiency.

The thing is that a high seat position will rock your hips excessively, especially from side to side – you will have to do it to reach to the bottom of the pedal rotation. On the other hand, a low saddle will keep your knees bent all the time and put excessive pressure on your kneecap or patella, causing patellofemoral pain.

You need to achieve a balance in saddle height so that your legs are neither bent nor stretched – they should be nearly straight.

Pushing Excessively High Gears

Riding in the wrong gear will always have a negative impact on your knees. If you continue to push excessively high gears, especially in slow cadence in relatively cold weather, be ready to deal with knee pain in the near future. We’ve picked another article from Livestrong.com to explain this point in detail. Click here to read the full article, but the main emphasis of the article is how riding in the wrong gear with improper cadence can lead to knee pain. You will be making your legs work extremely hard by riding in higher gears, especially when riding uphill. The common misconception is that you’re getting a better workout in this way, but you’re only stressing your muscles around your knees. These muscles get tighter and start pulling on the knee causing serious pain.

Cleat Alignment

Cleat AlignmentAlthough your overall bike fit is important, you should never overlook the importance of maintaining a proper cleat position. In an article at Ilovebicycling.com, the experts have given in-depth info about achieving proper cleat position – you may visit the link to read further details along with reading knee pain cycling bonus tips. To protect your knees, you need to ensure the amount of cleat float is perfect as well. This actually refers to how you can move your foot one side to the other while still clipped in.

The experts believe that the angles for rotation should stay between 5 and 13 degrees, but that’s not achievable if you try to tighten the pedal to avoid losing any power. This throws your knee out of its natural line, causing serious pain.

The experts at I-team.cc are of the view that in addition to the above mentioned causes, issues like bent pedal axle, long crank, and too much legwork in the gym will also lead to knee pain in cyclists. Details about this here.

Injury Prevention Options

The experts at BiCycling.com firmly believe that you can prevent several types of knee injuries, especially the ones that result from the undersurface of the kneecap rubbing together (patellofemoral syndrome), simply by finding the right foot positioning. It is about your cleat angle, and finding the right float. It is a good idea to ensure you don’t have to deal with more than 4.5 degrees of float.


image credit www.scpilatespt.com

You may also be able to prevent this type of knee injury if you move your cleat back a bit – this little adjustment will get you out of pain because it systematically reduces impact on your knees. Similarly, you should make sure you maintain a circular pedal stroke – this will save your knees from jutting inward or outward, keeping you away from facing patellofemoral syndrome.

Active.com also highlights some great tips to help you fix knee pain and rid yourself of patellofemoral pain syndrome. For instance:

  • Be sure to stretch the lateral side of your leg quite often. The muscle inside of the thigh doesn’t develop as efficiently as the muscle on the outside of your thigh develops after regular cycling. Stretch your leg with IT band or use our quadriceps stretches to avoid muscular imbalance and to gain strength and flexibility. You may also consider doing another exercise where you have to stand sideways on a step, balancing with one foot only. Now lower your leg to touch the ground, with hips leveled and back straight. Short arc quad is another effective exercise to strengthen your muscle.
  • Be sure to keep your seat height normal. If it’s too low, it will lead to patellar tendonitis. The simple solution here to raise the seat to ensure your leg stays near full extension when pedaling.
  • Be sure to give yourself plenty of rest, especially if your knee pain is the result of overuse. Don’t just keep aggravating your injury through the repetitive motion of cycling. Moreover, you should be increasing your mileage slowly once you start cycling after a period of rest. Avoid long, steep climbs in the beginning.

In addition to these fixes, you may have to consider another one in case your pain is the result of inflammation of the tendon. An anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen will help here. Interestingly, you can now find Ibuprofen gel for knee pain. The users at Cyclechat.net believe using this gel is better than taking a couple of pills. Therefore, you may want to try a topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gels to treat inflammation because they are quite safe.

The following is the list of all articles, plus a few related to knee pain and injuries:

  1. Ibuprofen gel for knee pain
  2. Injury prevention: Thigh & knee Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome
  3. Cycling knee pain: What do you do?
  4. Knee Pain Cycling – Causes and Solutions
  5. Injury Prevention: Patellofemoral Syndrome
  6. Knee Pain After Cycling
  7. Bike Fitting Specialists – Cycling Knee Pain
  8. 4 Ways to Fix Anterior Knee Pain From Cycling
  9. A Cyclist’s Guide To Knee Pain
  10. Cycling Knee Problems

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