Millions of people in the United States cycle every single day, whether it’s for leisure, commuting, or exercise. Part of the reason biking is so popular? Because it is a low-impact exercise that strains the body less than other activities like running. That said, cycling can still result in injuries and pain. 

When knee pain while biking strikes, it can feel as if your life has been put on hold. We here at Kneecare Clinics want you to know that pain doesn’t have to stop you from living your life to the fullest. Keep reading to learn more about causes of discomfort while cycling and how Kneecare Clinics can help people with knee discomfort and pain.

What are Common Causes of Knee Pain While Biking?

There are plenty of reasons why someone could experience discomfort or pain while cycling. Some of these reasons include the following.

  • Cleat Position – How you place your feet on your bike pedals can lead to pain and injury. Improper cleat placement can lead to some serious problems for people who use specialized cycling shoes. For example, cleats positioned too far inward could cause pain on the inside of the knee (medial knee pain). Conversely, outward cleat positioning could mean discomfort on the outside of the knee (lateral knee pain).
  • Handlebar Position – Every part of the bike needs to be properly aligned to your body shape. Otherwise you run the risk of injury. That’s right: even something as seemingly unrelated as handlebar positioning could be causing knee discomfort! Improperly positioned handlebars can strain the body, including the lower back. When the lower back becomes too fatigued, it could cause you to unintentionally shift your pedal strokes. These shifts can cause knee pain.
  • Saddle Height – Is your saddle too high or too low? If so, it could strain muscles and ligaments like the hamstrings and iliotibial band (IT band). That could ultimately cause discomfort or even pain. Specifically, a saddle that is too high could cause pain at the back of the knee (posterior knee pain). Alternatively, a too-low saddle could cause discomfort at the front of the knee joint (anterior knee pain).
  • Tendonitis (Tendinitis) – While cycling is a low-impact activity, it still carries risk of injury. Cyclists are prone to overuse injuries like tendonitis, or inflammation of tendons, especially if they do not warm up and cool down after every ride.

Ways to Avoid and Treat Cycling Knee Pain

You don’t have to suffer through pain and discomfort. If you’re a cyclist, you can talk to your doctor about the following ways to manage knee pain when biking.

  • Adjust Handlebar, Cleat, and Saddle Positions – Improper positioning of handlebars, cleats, and saddles can mean unnecessary stress on your body. That can lead to pain, discomfort, and even injuries. So, simply adjusting your bike to fit your body’s unique shape is one of the easiest ways to stop pain in its tracks. Aren’t sure if your bike is properly positioned? Not a problem. You can visit a professional bike shop and have a bike fitter adjust your bike to fit your needs.
  • Foam Rolling – A foam roller is a cylindrical piece of foam that can help stretch muscles and soothe soft tissues. Rolling out the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstring muscles can benefit cyclists. When these muscle groups work properly, they reduce stress placed on your knee joints. In other words, caring for your muscles also means caring for your joints.
  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs are medications that can reduce pain and inflammation in the body. Popular NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). They are a common go-to treatment for all kinds of sports injuries, including those caused by cycling.
  • Physical Therapy Physical therapy is one of the gold standards of sports medicine for a reason: it helps countless people recover from their injuries fully, so they can get back to doing what they love. A physical therapist will guide you through exercises and stretches to help you regain full range of motion in your joints. They can even teach you ways to avoid similar injuries in the future.

Treatments We Offer

We offer treatment options for the following medical conditions:

Treatments we offer include the following options:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stop my knees from hurting when cycling?

There are plenty of ways to avoid and treat discomfort when cycling, including the following methods.

  • Investing in a good bike
  • Positioning all parts of the bike properly for your body
  • Stretching properly before and after every ride

Is it OK to cycle with knee pain?

People experiencing discomfort or pain in the knees should speak to their doctors before they engage in any physical activity, including cycling. “Pushing through the pain” and exercising without a doctor’s approval could lead to further injury.

Get Started at Kneecare Clinics

Kneecare Clinics can help you fight knee discomfort and pain so that you can more deeply enjoy your life! Contact us now or speak to our patient advocate to get started.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal or medical advice and is for informational purposes only.

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