You’re not alone if you’ve ever felt a stinging pain in one or both of your knees while cycling. Overdoing it, as they say, causes the majority of cycling-related knee discomfort. Overdoing causes the majority of cycling-related knee discomfort. You ride for farther or faster than your body is used to, putting strain on your connective tissues and resulting in inflammation and pain. But what about those random sharp pains of the knee? They may seem to appear out of nowhere, but they’re the initial signs of a longer-term condition, leaving you wondering why your knees hurt so badly.
Get help early on, and take your discomfort seriously.
Knee discomfort is reported to affect 36% to 62% of people, according to a systematic review and multiple research (Johnston et al., 2017). After cycling back, it’s the second most common overuse injury among cyclists. The knee connects the upper and lower legs. If any portion of the lower kinematic chain lumbar spine, core, hip, knee, ankle) becomes faulty, it might pull on the knee joint, altering its function and causing knee discomfort. When these improper tensions/torsions are applied to the knee as a result of the repeated action of cycling, overuse problems can develop.
Thus, other than incorrect bike fit, poor flexibility and strength of core, pelvis and lower limb, can be the culprits of the knee discomfort on the bike.
- Anterior knee pain
This can caused by additional pressure on the patella and neighboring soft tissues, along with improper patella tracking. The patella compresses at the patellofemoral joint due to tight hip or knee flexors; slow cadence with a lot of force going through the knees.
2. Posterior knee pain
This can be caused by a number of factors, including a saddle that is too high or too far, tight calves, hamstrings, or glutes and foot that is too far front on the pedal.
3. Medial or lateral knee pain
Excessive medial thrust of knees creates change in the activation of the quads muscles, which can lead to knee pain in cyclists. This can be exacerbated by: inaccurate cleat adjustment, ankle pointing medially causing lateral tension, ankle points lateral causing medial tension; tight medial or lateral structures (TFL or hip adductors); and inadequate core or pelvic muscle strength to stabilize the pelvic to allow the lower limb kinetic chain to work effectively.
Cyclists have to pay attention to their bodies, which are meant to signal them when something is wrong before it becomes a persistent problem. Get help early on, and take your discomfort seriously.
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Johnston, T. E., Baskins, T. A., Koppel, R. V., Oliver, S. A., Stieber, D. J., & Hoglund, L. T. (2017, December). The influence of extrinsic factors on knee biomechanics during cycling: A systematic review of the literature. International journal of sports physical therapy. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5717478/