Cycling Knee Pain – A Cheap but Very Effective Cure!

… See also Average Joe Cyclist Guide to Preventing Cycling Knee Pain, which is about the amazing, short routine I have recently discovered to prevent cycling knee pain …

Here’s an amazingly effective and cheap cure for cycling knee pain that I learned from my very wise physiotherapist. I have had every kind and degree of cycling knee pain. I have had the kind of cycling knee pain that nags like an irritating but well-intentioned friend, keeping you awake all night, while suggesting that perhaps you are overdoing it and should just be less darn excessive. I have had the kind of cycling knee pain that presents as an agonizing stab of pain, sneaking up on you and attacking you suddenly, causing you to suddenly plummet to the ground as if felled by a lightning bolt. And worst of all, I have had the kind of cycling knee pain that causes you to stop cycling and contemplate the misery of never being able to get on a bicycle again.

Of course, I have also tried every kind of recommended cure for cycling knee pain. I have gone through more expensive tubes of Arnica cream than I care to remember. Therapists have manipulated my knees, causing extreme pain as they tried to remove the accumulated toxins that were, apparently, causing my cycling knee pain. Other therapists have injected Arnica directly into my knees (NOT as much fun as it sounds), and still others have stuck needles into random parts of my body in an attempt to craftily defeat the cycling knee pain via the ancient wisdom of acupuncture.

acpuncture on knees

Thanks to all these therapies, I have blown through enormous quantities of extended benefits, as well as huge amounts of my own hard-earned money.

And as a result of all these remedies and therapies … absolutely nothing happened.

The cycling knee pain remained, and I continued to be terrified that as age advanced on me, my knees would betray me completely and cycling would be pushed away into a sad, dark corner of might-have-been’s and used-to-be’s. It helped that one of my bikes is an electric bike, and to this day I use this as needed to cycle every day without putting too much pressure on my knees.

Then one day my naturopath made a suggestion that I thought was completely insane – as well as probably very messy. So of course, even though I was paying about $100 an hour to benefit from her wisdom, I completely ignored her. I continued in the ways of my own ancient wisdom, wisely throwing away money on therapies and remedies that patently didn’t work.

After about another year of this blatant (and expensive) stupidity, I finally caved and decided to try the insane and very messy suggestion. One evening, scarcely able to walk, but about to go off and cycle hundreds of miles in Montréal, I was desperate enough to actually try her suggested cure for my cycling knee pain.

castor-oilThis is what I did: I bought a bottle of castor oil for $3.95 (including tax). I pulled my moth-eaten $20 heating pad out of the dusty recesses of the bathroom cabinet (the thing that Maggie refers to as the “old-lady pad”). Then I smeared castor oil on my knee, put a kitchen tea towel on top of that, covered that with a plastic shopping bag, and topped it all off with the heating bag. Very attractive. (Fortunately, I have a leather couch, so no great harm was done to innocent furniture.)

I left it on my right knee for 15 minutes, and then switched to my left knee. It was oddly soothing, considering that I have always been taught that inflammation needs cold, not heat. Then I put the whole messy heap away, shaking my head at my own desperation.

The next morning I woke up, and the cycling knee pain was gone! Yes, really. I got on my bike that day and cycled like I was 12 again.

I went off and cycled hundreds of miles in Montréal, and applied my hot castor oil every night. And every day, I was free of cycling knee pain. Since then Maggie has also used this therapy for cycling knee pain, and my mother has used it for arthritic pain. We all say the same thing: it’s a miracle cure!

The theory is that hot castor oil draws inflammation out. It’s classified as an “old wives’ tale,” but my very modern and well-educated naturopath swears by it. And so do I. I have also used it with stunning success for the pain in my Achilles tendon, which was also caused by vast amounts of cycling. As with my cycling knee pain, castor oil has succeeded where hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars of other treatments have failed.

I urge you to try it – you have nothing to lose but your cycling knee pain (and $3.95 for some castor oil).

You might also enjoy these posts:

Average Joe Cyclist Guide to Preventing Cycling Knee Pain

prevent cycling knee pain

The Importance of Having a Professional Bike Fit

 

22 thoughts on “Cycling Knee Pain – Average Joe Cyclist’s Miraculous, Cheap Cure

  1. So far my knees haven’t hurt at all while riding, at least not more than for a second or two for the whole ride. What I find is that they seem to hurt more than they used to on days where I’m not riding.

    I’m not sure if excessive biking is making them worse overall, or if the exercise of riding is actually helping alleviate pain from some degenerative condition that was already there, but maybe I should get a bottle of castor oil just in case.

    1. That’s the odd thing: I almost NEVER get the pain while I am actually riding. (When I have, it’s usually been because of something like I have rented a bike and the saddle is way too low.) The pain usually comes on after many days of many miles of cycling; especially if I am also working out and doing squats and such. I am certain it is caused mainly by cycling though. I think it’s just wear and tear. I have had bike fit done, which definitely helps. Bottom line though for me is that I will get the pain from time to time, and the castor oil sorts it every time. It’s definitely worth a try the next time you have pain.

  2. Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

  3. When I had horses, and worked in show barns, we used a combination of heat and cold, not on the same days. However each evening, if you are working your horse hard (ie a show over 3 or 4 days) we rubbed the horses legs every evening with liniment and then wrapped them with batting and wool bandages. This created heat and relief to the horse overnight. In the morning you hosed the legs to clean them and cool them. If swelling was high we would wrap SaranWrap under the bandages, but on top of the liniment. This would cause such high heat that you needed to be very careful when doing this otherwise you could blister the legs. When we wanted to cool a horse’s leg we would either run a hose over the legs or put on the blue “ice” that is now sold as an athlete’s rub. Cloverdale Pharmacy used to sell a lot of horse /equine stuff, and you could buy it all very cheaply… the same products with different labelling would be sold in the other aisles, for Men or Women, and for a lot more money!

    1. Interesting. I know there are times when heat is not recommended, and in fact can do harm. And I have heard good things about alternating hot and cold. But I still swear by my castor oil. Just last Saturday we did about 50 km with a lot of hills, and I had sharp pains in the side of my knees. I used the castor oil and the next morning I was ready to cycle again. Magic! The best part is that it’s really very cheap compared to stuff like Arnica (which I used religiously for years, but which never had such dramatic results). As with the horse liniment, there is something to be said for the treatments that are more low profile.

  4. ive tried everything……..
    My cycling days are fine…..20 – 30 miles ..no problem…but the next day and the day after low dull knee pain. No pain on the bike while riding. Ive farted around with the seat height / fore / aft plenty and it still remains. IM going to try this. I hope it helps!

    Thanks for the tip.

    1. Hey JC, why don’t you try a professional bike fitting? Not very cheap, but it can work wonders. And the other thing is, are you wearing proper bike shoes? They have very firm soles, and for some reason, this also helps.

  5. ive got the shoes…..

    I havent been in for a fitting yet but around here they run upwards of about $300. Ill be looking at that if this castor oil doesnt help.

    1. I had mine done at Allan McGavin Sports Physiotherapy – I think it was around $150, but that was a couple of years ago. They did a good job though, and then gave me a “prescription” to take to my bike shop … it worked out really well for me. I was having major mid back pain, and that went away almost immediately, so it was well worth the cost.

  6. Thanks for this, Average joe. I tried it and it actually worked – which i have to admit surprised me. I am a bit of a sceptic! If it doesn’t cost $85 a hour, I dont think it will help. I also found it helps sometimes to alternate hot and cold – first the hot wiht the castor oil then a cold compress with ice, then the castor oil again, and on and on – and the next morning I am ready to get on my bike again, because the pain is gone and forgotten ! :)

  7. It is truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  8. ive had bad knee pain for two months and have not ridden at all…
    tried ice and lots of ibuprofen, a extensive re-bike fitting as well as PT. the heating pad with castor oil has made the biggest difference, thanks for posting.

  9. bought a cycle one month ago n the pain started in only left leg what to do help me with ur suggestions

  10. Tried, didn’t work. Castor oil on cloth, applied some on knee, wrapped cloth and then heating pad around knee, waited for several hours. Did it overnight as well, it is now the next day and my knee hurts exactly as much as yesterday.

    I’m sorry sir but I think you may have been fooled by your own placebo. Have you considered that it was the heat you applied, and not the oil, that did the trick? Since heat is already documented to help. Either this only works in very specific circumstances or it’s not quite as ‘miraculous’ as you claim…

    Also the oil was $5.49… I’m slated to do a two month tour in a week so I was pretty desperate but clearly I should have gone to a doctor, not the internet.

    1. Hi Nico, sorry it did not work for you – I guess we are not all the same. All I know is that it works for me, every time. One thing though – you have to do it pretty consistently – it’s not a one-time use will fix it kind of thing. Apparently this hot castor oil is quite an ancient treatment (I discussed this with a naturopath, and she says it is an ancient remedy that she swears by), so I am pretty sure it is not just me … I hope you have better luck with your doctor, and good luck with your tour.

  11. THANK YOU!!! I followed your routine and I cannot believe it worked so well!

    I’ve for the past year had troubled knees to the point where I can do intense cardio jogging on the treadmill or going really fast on the elliptical or cycling, but I can’t do squats, lunges, or jog outside. Sometimes I have to take a break from the other activities as well. Last Sat., my friend accidentally kicked me in the knee in the pool and after that, I’ve had a feeling where I can’t put any pressure on it and walking more than a little while gets it to be uncomfortable.

    Sat – got hit in the knee
    Sun – tried to jog on the treadmill and my knee down to my foot felt lots of pressure and stiffness.
    Mon – Tried to do other activities at the gym, just calf raises, etc. but felt I couldn’t put any pressure on my knee.
    Fri – read your blog and rushed out to Whole Foods before it closed to buy the oil.
    This Sat. morn. I tried the oil/fabric/plastic/heat for about 15-20 min and kept the soaked fabric on for an hour after that and honestly my knee has felt practically normal all day!

    I think I will sleep with it on both knees tonight and maybe just do it everyday. I’m telling my dad about it too.

    So thank you so much for this trick. I am so happy I think my life will soon be back to normal. I was getting sooo depressed having to be so inactive.

  12. I’m having so much problem with my left knee from cycling. I think it’s because I’ve been climbing out of the saddle. It hurts just around the knee cap area. I’m going to try your method – what level of heating is good for you? Low, medium or high…thanks!

    1. I would say medium level of heating. But try different levels and see what works for you. I suspect, the hotter the better. Good luck!

  13. What sort of castor oil you using do you have a picture or web link? Currently I am using Arnica cream and hope it helps, bit I think the pain I have is the side of knee, some say its the ITB muscle and general due to poor bike fit and riding big gears too early.

    If this castor thing works I am keen to try

    1. I just use any generic castor oil … available in health food stores and also some pharmacies. Good luck. Sounds like you need to check your bike fitting though …

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