4 ways to prevent knee pain when cycling
Cycling season is here! While biking is considered a low-impact sport, the repetitive mechanics of cycling combined with high reactive forces between your foot and bike pedal create high pressure on your lower extremity and can predispose you to knee pain.
Knee pain is the most common lower-body issue among cyclists with as many as 65 per cent experiencing it. Most knee pain is a result of overdoing it when you ride for longer periods and harder than your condition permits. This tends to strain and inflame your connective tissues.
Activa encourages you to consider safety when biking to prevent reduced training capacity or limited performance with these 4 cycling safety tips.
1. Check your saddle height and position
Start by being mindful of your form and consider the safety of your equipment and bike position for long distance cycling. A good bike fit is essential for preventing most causes of knee pain.
Knee pain right on the kneecap (patella) is typically the result of powerful cycling quads. As you’re pumping the pedals, your quad muscles may deliver too much force across your patella. A saddle that is placed too low may cause your knee angle to be too tight at the top of the stroke, which increases forces pulling the patella against the femur — increasing the likelihood of tendonitis and harmful stresses in the cartilage behind the kneecap. Riding with your saddle too far forward can also cause knee pain in the front.
Tip for saddle height: Have a seat and rest your heel on the pedal with the pedal in the 6 o’clock position. The knee of that leg should be straight at a 20- to 25-degree knee bend when clipped in.Tip for saddle position: Your saddle should be positioned so the bony bit below the kneecap is above the ball of the foot, which should be above the pedal.
2. Avoid over-extension of the knee
Pain behind the knee is less common than in the front and is generally caused by over-extension of the knee. This pain is common among cyclists who spend a lot of time in fixed gear using hamstrings to decelerate pedal stroke. This can put too much pressure on your biceps femoris tendon (hamstring muscle that runs down the back of your leg toward the outside of your knee).
Tip: Check your saddle position, as it may be too high or too far back. Try lowering the saddle a bit or moving it forward in relation to the handlebars. Give your legs a break with lighter resistance pedalling to relieve pressure.