Cycling is an easy sport that’s low-impact and doesn’t cause injury. It strengthens your knees and muscles by improving your leg joints. It’s repetitive, so you might wonder if cycling is bad for your knees.
A 2017 Journal of Community and Family Medicine study found that 16% of pros and 27% of beginners experience mild knee pain during their cycling careers. This shows that you cannot be pain-free in the knees when you ride.
Comparing the numbers, however, we find that the proportion of people who experience knee pain is lower than those who don’t. We can also argue that cycling is suitable for your knees.
Cycling is a low-impact sport that can help you lose weight and improve flexibility in your joints.
What causes knee pain, given that cycling has a low impact?
If you experience knee pain after long cycling, it may be due to riding harder, faster, or not warming up properly before you start your ride. You could also have the wrong size bike, bad riding posture, or a low cadence.
I will explain what causes cycling-related knee pain and what you can do if your knee is in pain. I will also suggest the best bikes to use if you have knee pain.
Let’s get started!
Let’s first answer two crucial questions about knee pain that have been uncovered through research.
Are Cycling and Arthritis Knee Good?
According to the Permanente Journal, cycling can reduce joint pressure and improve overall health for people with osteoarthritis. Cycling is a low-impact sport that will benefit your knees. It will allow you to flex and relieve the pain.
This makes it great for the arthritic leg. It must be moderate and not intensive cycling.
Are Too Many Cycling Accidents Bad for Your Knees?
The BodyMechanic is an Australian-based physiotherapy clinic that states that cycling is a repetitive sport, with riders averaging around 5,000 pedal strokes each hour.
However, excessive cycling can cause knee pain. You should avoid this by cycling moderately, especially if you’re a beginner.
Types of knee pain related to cycling
These are the four types of knee pains that can be caused by cycling:
Bicyclists who ride their bikes asymmetrically are more likely to experience pain in one knee. This is when you are riding in an unbalanced position. If you feel pain in your knees, it is time to inspect the saddle.
You will likely lean on one leg if the saddle is too high. This can cause pain and discomfort. If this is you, lower the bike seat until it’s in the ideal position.
Behind the Knee Pain
As in the first instance, if your saddle is too high, your hips will feel discomfort when you pedal hard.
You may also strain your hip muscles if the saddle is too far back. The pain will then concentrate behind your knee.
If you feel back pain or discomfort in your knees, adjust the seat by moving it forward or lowering it.
Both beginners and more experienced riders suffer from kneecap pain. It’s possible to feel kneecap pain if your bike saddle is too high or too far forward.
This can be corrected by moving the seat slightly or raising its height.
Pain in the Side Knee
You will feel the most severe knee pain on the side. A high saddle usually causes side knee pain.
You can then check the seat’s height and adjust it if necessary.
What causes knee pain when cycling?
Poor posture and insufficient bike size are the leading causes of knee pain. Other factors can cause knee pain as well. These include:
Ride faster, longer, and harder
You may think riding 60 miles on a bicycle is easy for a beginner. You might try riding longer hours or more challenging to get faster.
This will cause knee pain and strain on your connective tissue. You can avoid this by increasing your mileage gradually.
This means that you need to be cautious, especially when adding mileage. Take it slow and take the time to appreciate each milestone.
It’s not the right time to warm up.
Warming up before you get on your bike is a must for any cyclist. Warm up for at least 5-10 mins before you start riding. This is important for cycling and other sports such as running, climbing, and football.
Many novice riders skip this step, leading to severe knee pain. Warming up can help strengthen your hip, arms, and legs. This is especially important for cyclists who need to increase their oxygen intake.
If you are having trouble warming up, you can fix it by cycling slowly and increasing your speed. If you ride faster, you will most likely feel pain in your back, leg, arm, hip, or knee.
Incorrect Fit for a Bike
Bad fit does not always mean bad helmets or shoes, but the bike itself. A bad bike fit can tell that the bike is too small or too large for you.
How can you tell if your bike is right for you?
This can be checked by placing one pedal at six o’clock and the other at twelve. If your lower leg is not straight, it is likely. The bike isn’t the right fit.
Adjust an adjustable seat by raising or lowering it until your lower leg is straight. If the bike isn’t right-fitting, you will feel pain in your front and back knees.
Poor riding posture
A wrong riding position can cause pain in the knee. You will feel knee pain if you ride with your arms extended or slouching.
Although different riders may have different riding positions, you can still achieve a great overall posture by following these guidelines:
- Your back should be straightened or in an aerodynamic position. However, don’t round your back, as this can cause pain in the spine.
- Your shoulders should be relaxed. Pushing your shoulders up will cause pain in the back and knees.
- Instead of having your elbows straight, bend your elbows.
- Avoid knee collapse. Repetitive sports like cycling can lead to painful knee injuries. Start slowly.
Cadence is the rate of revolution per minute that you pedal each minute. A cadence of 50 is 50 revolutions per minute. Cadence is closely linked to your cycling gear which determines your speed.
A low cadence (below 60 RPM) can strain your knees because it requires more energy to pedal. It’s best to maintain a pace of 60 rpm or more, not to push your knees.
How to adjust your bike to fit properly (and not hurt your knees when cycling)
Bad riding posture and the wrong bike size can lead to knee pain. To prevent knee pain, adjust your saddle and cleats.
* The Cleats
If your leg is not straight, the cleats may be too tight. This will cause your legs to hang out in an unnatural position (either inwards or outwards). This can lead to knee pain.
If this is the case, let your pedal tension loosen so your feet can relax and allow you to ride in your normal position.
* The Saddle
It is simple to adjust the saddle. You can change its front or height. You will probably ride with a lower saddle if you’re a beginner.
This routine will allow you to put your feet flat on a surface, but it won’t give you enough flexibility for your knees. It can cause sharp kneecap pain.
This will allow you to raise the saddle so that the foot on your lower pedal is at the 6 o’clock position.
Next, check the saddle position (whether it is too far or too low). Adjust it so that the kneecap of your front leg rests on the ball of your foot.
You should also ensure you can grip the handlebar comfortably.
Benefits of Cycling to the Knees
Cycling can be great for your knees if you can warm up properly and get a bike that fits you well. Here are some of the benefits of cycling to your knees.
Knee Muscle Strengthening
Every time you ride a bicycle, your knee muscles are strengthened. This is not just for seniors but also children.
If your child is young and has a bad knee, it’s essential to let them use a bike that suits their needs and keeps their knees moving.
The Mobo Triton Triton Pedal Gokart Trike is an excellent bike for kids with bad knees. This outdoor bike is suitable for children aged 7-12 and features comfortable well-cushioned seating.
Excellent for Osteoarthritis
Do you have arthritic knees in your senior citizen? Being overweight is a significant risk factor for arthritis. Being overweight can make your arthritis knees very painful.
Cycling can help reduce your knee pain and help you lose weight if you do it regularly. The HARISON Magnet Recumbent Bicycle is the best option for you if you have a large body and are over 50.
The indoor recumbent bike can support up to 350 pounds. You can adjust the tension to suit your knee exercises with the 14 resistance levels.
How to Deal with Pain in the Cycling Knees
You don’t have to stop cycling if you have a bad leg. Over time, your knee muscles will become stronger.
You can see your doctor if the pain is severe. If it is mild, you may be able to use Glucosamine Chondroitin Turmeric MSM Boswellia. This adult-friendly dietary supplement provides joint pain relief in 90 capsules.
If tablets are not your thing, the NECA professional knee brace is for you. This knee support is similar to a bandage. It helps reduce pain while cycling with an arthritis knee.
There are options for those who don’t want to cycle outdoors. A bike allows you to move your knees freely in your home without straining your knee muscles or joints.
It would help if you got the Marcy Regenerating Recumbent exercise bike. The bike features an adjustable seat, computer LCD, recumbent handlebars, straps for your leg, and wheels to provide stress-free transport.
Final thoughts: Is Cycling Bad For Knees?
Cycling is an effective and low-impact way to keep your knees moving. It strengthens your core, knee muscles, and joints, allowing maximum flexibility.
You will likely experience knee pain if you ride faster, more challenging, or longer than you should.