Types of cycling knee pain and how to prevent them
Cycling knee pain is very common, many cyclists think that knee pain can be solved by just getting off the bike and resting, but that is not necessarily true.
The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body, so it makes sense that it is often the first place we experience pain.
Although not a muscle, stretches for cyclists are key to ensuring that everything connected to the knee remains flexible and in place. Knee pain could be caused by something as simple as adjusting the saddle or fitting new cleats.
Therefore, if you experience knee pain, find out what is causing it and make the necessary corrections to fix it.
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Most common types of cycling knee pain
Knee pain can appear in a variety of ways and for different reasons. These are some of the most common types and causes:
Types of cycling knee pain
- Pain in the anterior knee área
Anterior cycling knee pain is in the front of the knee, in and around the kneecap. This pain is most commonly caused by overuse. The quads are attached to the shin via the kneecap, so each time you pedal forces are transmitted through the joint, essentially crushing it against the thigh bone.
The part of the tendon attached to the kneecap can become swollen and painful to the touch. Often referred to as «runner’s knee , » it is also a pain that can happen to cyclists.
- Pain in the back of the knee
Much less common posterior knee pain appears behind the knee and is usually a simpler diagnosis. Extending the knee too far, from having a saddle too high or too far back, causes pain in the back of the knee in most cases, so make sure your saddle is the right height and fit for you.
- Medial and lateral knee pain
Pain localized to the sides of the knee in the collateral ligaments is most commonly caused by the feet. In cycling this would come down to your shoes or cleat position. The distance your feet spread can stress collateral areas, causing pain in the medial or lateral knee during or after a bike ride.
Iliotibial band syndrome (it band)
The IT band, which runs along the outside of the thigh from the pelvis to just below the knee, is a thick strip of tissue that can often become tight or inflamed. This is usually caused by overuse, gluteus medius weakness, or cleat placement.
If the IT band has become inflamed, then rest and ice are the best option. If you’re stressed and sore, your best treatment will be to stretch and roll regularly.
What can cause knee pain?
Although cycling is a low-impact sport, by far anything can put stress and strain on the body. Pedaling is a repetitive movement with constant flexion and extension movements of the knees and hips. Naturally, with overuse, these are the most common sites for chronic use injuries.
Too strong or too fast
The number one cause of knee pain in cyclists is from going too hard or too fast. It’s great to challenge yourself, but going beyond what your ligaments and muscles can handle will only hinder your progress.
Endurance is something that builds up over time and conditions the muscles over miles and hours of training.
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Incorrect bike settings
The small adjustments you can make to your bike can make a difference when it comes to addressing or avoiding cycling knee pain. The height and position of the saddle and the placement of the cleats at the bottom of your shoes can cause or help prevent knee pain, depending on how well they are adjusted for you.
Just stretching and rolling is not enough
Overstretching or under-stretching could cause problems for cyclists. Eventually, if you don’t stretch, your muscles will get so tense that you’ll have a hard time walking. Make sure you do stretches that especially target the muscles around the knee.
However, if pain persists despite adequate rest, stretching, or monitoring bike settings, it may be a good idea to see a physical therapist to see if there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
cycling knee pain for training errors
Muscles and tendons, in particular, take time to adjust to the load. If the demand is too great, then the damage caused by the activity does not have time to repair and a downward spiral occurs. The hard part is deciding exactly where that line is. It will be different for everyone and does not necessarily fit the generic 10% guidelines
Saddle height and forward and backward position have been found to influence knee forces.