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Causes of knee pain when riding a bicycle

Causes of knee pain when riding a bicycle

If you are a cyclist and have experienced severe tingling in one or both knees, then you are not alone. Studies have shown that 23% to 33% of cyclists have experienced knee pain associated with cycling at some point.

As they say, most bicycle-related knee pain comes from “overuse.” when you are riding a bicycle longer and/or harder than your body adapts, which can strain your connective tissues, causing inflammation and pain. But what about the spontaneous tingling of knee pain that stops the crank? It may feel like they come from nowhere, but they are usually only the first obvious symptoms of a long-standing problem and will make you wonder why your knee hurts so much.

Many cyclists are always fiddling with their positions, looking for the elusive perfect position. However, it feels right to step on a few pedals around the block, but after 70 miles of road, it feels bad in the end. A good bicycle is the most important reason to prevent knee pain. But before you go to a bicycle fitter or medical professional, try some self-diagnosis.

riding a bicycle

Here are ways to identify and relieve pain:

Knee pain symptoms and treatment

Front pain: When your knee is injured at the kneecap (patella), it is usually the product of your powerful cycling quadriceps. Your quadriceps are attached to the tibia through the patella, and when you pump, they may transmit excessive shear forces on the joints. Bicycle-specific issues to check include saddle height; saddle front and rear and/or crank length.

A saddle that is too low will make your knee angle too tight at the top of the stroke, which will increase the shear force pulling the patella towards the femur, which in turn will increase the likelihood of tendinitis and harmful pressure in the cartilage behind the joint . Similarly, when the crank is too long for your leg length, the knee joint is too tight at the top of the stroke.

How low is too low for the saddle? For a quick reference to check if your saddle is at the correct height, please sit down and place your heels on the pedals, which are at 6 o’clock. The knees of the legs should be straight, which is equivalent to bending the knees 20 to 25 degrees during clamping.

Riding a saddle too far forward can also cause front knee pain. Your saddle should be positioned so that the tibial tubercle – or the bone position below the kneecap – is directly above the sole of the foot, and the sole of the foot should be above the pedal axis.

Also, please pay attention to your form. Running in the big gear, climbing on the monster gear, and sprinting (especially if you have not adapted to it) can put excessive pressure on the knee and cause this type of pain. 

riding a bicycle


Pain behind the knee is less common than pain in the front, and is usually easier to trace back to the culprit: knee hyperextension. If your saddle is too high or too far back, try to lower the saddle a bit or move it forward relative to the handlebar.

This pain is also more common among cyclists who ride fixed gear bicycles for long periods of time; when you are riding a fixed gear, you will use the hamstrings to slow down your pedal stroke, which will cause the biceps femoris tendon (1 This is the hamstring that extends from the back of the leg to the outside of the knee), which is subject to excessive load and stimulates it. It helps to rest your legs every now and then, and then rest as you want.

Pain inside:

When you feel pain on the inside (or inside) of your knee, look down at your feet: incorrect cleat placement is usually the culprit. The position of your cleats affects your Q factor, which determines how far apart your feet are when you step on. Ideally, the spacing should allow the load from the knee to the pedal to move vertically without pushing the knee in or out, which can compress the collateral ligaments on both sides of the knee and cause pain. Positioning the cleats too close to the inside of the bicycle shoe will increase the distance between the feet, which will put pressure on the medial collateral ligament and cause pain on the inside (or inside) of the knee.

Excessive float in the pedals can also cause pain on the inside of the knee. A little bit of floating—about 4.5 degrees—is all that is needed to make you feel comfortable and prevent stress on your knees.

Pain on the outside:

Pain on the outside (or outside) of the knee is usually caused by the iliotibial band (IT) band syndrome-this is a tingling pain when the IT band (a band of fibrous connective tissue that extends from the hip along the hip) to the thigh To the tibia) becomes tense and inflamed, and misaligned cleats that cause excessive adduction of the foot can cause this. Placing the cleats too far from the outside of the shoe can also cause the bicycle to stand too narrow.

 riding a bicycle

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