Let’s Find Out: Is Biking Bad for Your Knees?

Is biking bad for your knees? In this article we will look at main factors that influence knee pressure, possible injuries and what can be done about them
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Last updatedLast updated: April 07, 2022
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Biking has always been a passion for you but as you get a bit older, suddenly there is a concern for your body. Will you be able to stay active while also protecting your vulnerable joints? This naturally leads to the question, is biking bad for your knees? While knee injuries are unfortunately common among bikers, this does not automatically mean that the sport is actually bad for your knees. Instead, there are a number of factors that result in knee injuries and if you are aware of them, and know how adjust your practice of the sport, you can indeed prevent knee injuries from happening.

How Cycling Affect Your Knees?

Let's Find Out: Is Biking Bad for Your Knees?You may be wondering just how biking can impact your knees. Cycling is all about constant motion and while your knee joints are strong, they can quickly wear down. If you have red, swollen knees, constant pain, or you aren’t able to ride for very long, there is a chance your love of the sport is affecting your health. Trusted Source Knee pain - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain. www.mayoclinic.org Here are some specific ways that your knees are affected by cycling.

Wrong equipment

Cycling should be enjoyable. While you may certainly feel exhausted after a long bike ride, this should be in a good way and not a painful way. If you feel like parts of your body are screaming in pain while you are riding a bike then you need to stop right away and adjust your equipment.

It may be that your seat is simply not at the right level or the pedals are not large enough.

There is also the possibility that your bike simply isn’t built strong enough for your weight. If you are a larger person, there are plenty of bike options for heavier riders, so always check out the maximum weight on a bike to find one that will work best for your body shape.

Bad sitting position

Let's Find Out: Is Biking Bad for Your Knees?When you ride your bike, your legs do most of the work but more strain is put on them if you are sitting in the wrong position. The way you position your back can have a knock-off effect on your entire body, especially your knees.

To make your experience more comfortable, and thus more natural, you should always start with a padded seat. The Bikally Comfortable Bike Seat is a good example as it features high-density foam padding. You won’t have to overcompensate with your legs and your knees because this seat will make the riding experience much more pleasurable.

Quick speed change

As you ride along on your bike, you will want to change the gears as you adapt to your terrain. This can cause quite a bit of stress on your knees, so you want to be in as much control over the situation as possible. Those that are experienced cyclists will want to find a bike that offers a smooth transition when you quickly change gears. The Schwinn Volare is a men’s road bike that not only offers comfort as you ride but has smooth dynamics that won’t put unnecessary stress on your joints.

Genetics

Unfortunately, there are some factors that cause knee injuries in bikers and a lot of them simply have to do with genetics. Doe your family have a history of knee injuries, surgeries, or even replacements? Have your knees always made a slight clicking sound, regardless of the activity?

This does not mean you need to give up cycling. Rather, it is important to know as it will help you minimize risks as you continue to enjoy your favorite sport.

Common Knee Injuries from Cycling

Let's Find Out: Is Biking Bad for Your Knees?Let’s dive into common injuries that often happen as you cycle. This section deals with a bit of anatomy, so if you need a refresher on how your knees work, this article Trusted Source Common Knee Injuries - OrthoInfo - AAOS The most common knee injuries include fractures, dislocations, sprains, and ligament tears. Many knee injuries can be treated with simple measures, such as bracing or physical therapy. Others may require surgery to correct. orthoinfo.aaos.org from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons can help.

Posterior

The back of your knee is home to a lot of moving parts. This posterior pain is often a result of misalignment of your hips or too much stress on your lower back. Remember that everything in your body works together and just because you have knee pain does not mean that the problem is focused only on the one area.

Anterior

Let's Find Out: Is Biking Bad for Your Knees?This pain refers to anything that is felt at the front of your knee. It is especially common if you fall off your bike and land on rough terrain. If you don’t already have a set of protective knee pads, you should definitely purchase some to protect your body.

Medial and lateral

Finally, these areas are the sides of your knees. They can result in repetitive motions and strains as well as falling in an awkward manner.

How to Lessen Knee Pressure

Having the right equipment is certainly important when riding your bike but there are other preventative measures you can take before you even get on your apparatus.

Quad training

Your quadriceps are a group of muscles found on the front part of your leg, above your knees. They are incredibly strong and work really hard, especially when biking. The stronger your quads are, the less work the rest of your legs need to do.

On your off-time, you can work to strengthen these muscles so that when you are biking they don’t suffer from fatigue and other weaker muscles and joints need to take over. Take a look at this video for some simply quad exercises you can do right at home:

Bike fit

You can purchase a bike online or in-store but if you are worried about if cycling is bad for your knees, you should always check the fit with a professional. They can make any adjustments you need for a proper fit that won’t compromise your safety.Let's Find Out: Is Biking Bad for Your Knees?

You should also start with the right type of bike for your needs. Road cycling and mountain biking are very different sports, and for the most part, the two types of bikes are not interchangeable. There are also different niche categories of bikes. For example, these bikes are great if you are interested in training for a triathlon. With the right bike fit, your muscles and joint won’t have to strain and thus you can prevent common knee injuries from cycling.

Stretching before and after ride

We know how eager you are to get out on the road but before you mount your bike, you should engage in some light stretching. This will warm up your body and help your muscles get ready for a long cycle. Biking is very repetitive so if you can ease your body into the movements, it will be happier and there will be fewer injuries, especially with your knees.

Then, once you are finished riding, do a few more stretches. This will help loosen out kinks from a long cycle and help restore circulation. This video has some important stretches for before and after your ride:

Final Thoughts

Cycling is an intense sport so there is no surprise that it can cause a lot of injuries, chief among them knee injuries. However, there are many reasons why bikers can suffer hurt to their knees and once you dive into these, you will hopefully find many ways to prevent the injuries from happening in the first place. The wrong equipment or bike fit can impact your posture, which in turn can create more strain on your knee joints. To prevent this, invest in protective gear and a solid bike, and always talk to a bike expert who can make small adjustments to your ride. You can also add pre and post stretches to your routine to help lessen the strain on your joints. While the perception is biking is bad for your knees, there are plenty of ways to alter how you ride so that knee injuries are not a definite conclusion.

References

1.
Knee pain - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain.
2.
Common Knee Injuries - OrthoInfo - AAOS
The most common knee injuries include fractures, dislocations, sprains, and ligament tears. Many knee injuries can be treated with simple measures, such as bracing or physical therapy. Others may require surgery to correct.
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