Here are my top 7 best ways to prevent cycling knee pain. Cycling knee pain causes pain to millions of cyclists, and even causes many to quit cycling, whether temporarily or permanently. This is of course part of a vicious cycle of bad health, because scientists have proven that exercise is so good for you that exercise can actually be called a miracle cure for most of the diseases that can make our lives miserable and eventually kill us. And cycling in particular has even been proven to be good for our brain health – cycling makes your brain grow!
The bottom line is: it is essential to prevent or at least control cycling knee pain, so that the rest of your body can continue to experience the amazing health benefits of cycling. Don’t let two tiny things (your knees) spoil it for the rest of you!
Tip #1 to prevent cycling knee pain: Stretch after every ride
This is absolutely essential. And stretch on the days you don’t ride, too. Stretching is essential to prevent cycling knee pain. Click here for a post that features a simple yet amazingly effective five-minute stretching program. I do it every single night after my shower, and it is actually preventing me from having knee pain at all these days.
Tip #2 to prevent cycling knee pain: Make sure you are moving correctly
Book an appointment with a physiotherapist and make sure that your walking, cycling and sitting knee and feet positions are correct. I found out in this way that I tend to splay my knees and feet slightly outwards (like a duck) – when I am sitting, walking and cycling. The result was nagging knee pain that went on for years. I corrected this with off-the-shelf orthotics, plus consciously remembering to keep my knees and feet straight, whether sitting, cycling or walking. It makes an enormous difference, yet it’s such a little thing. Something similar to that might be causing your knee pain.
Tip #3 to prevent cycling knee pain: Get stronger
Book an appointment with a personal trainer and get him/her to create a program for you that specifically aims to increase your strength so as to avoid cycling knee pain. For example, cyclists have notoriously weak hip flexors, and strengthening these can help prevent knee pain. If you can’t afford a trainer, consider buying one of the excellent books on the subject, such as Weight Training for Cyclists: A Total Body Program for Power and Endurance.
Also, here is a video in which Saqib, a top sports physiotherapist, shows you the three key exercises to strengthen your knees so as to prevent or treat cycling knee pain.
Tip #4 to prevent cycling knee pain: Ice often
Ice often, especially after long rides. Try to reduce inflammation before it becomes a problem, rather than battling to cure it once it becomes a chronic condition. Follow a cycle of 15 minutes of icing, 30 minutes off, 15 minutes of icing … longer than 15 minutes is counter-productive.
Tip #5 to prevent cycling knee pain: Wear the right shoes
Wear dedicated cycling shoes. You can go for clipless shoes for cyclists, such as these Pearl Izumi Men’s Cycling Shoes.
However, you don’t have to get shoes that clip into your pedals if you don’t want to spend the money, or clipping in makes you uncomfortable – or makes you fall over!
Cycling shoes just need to have a rigid sole. For example, Five Ten makes excellent shoes that look like sneakers but grip the pedal very well, plus have the rigid soles you need to prevent cycling knee pain. Read my review of Five Ten cycling shoes here.
Tip #6 to prevent cycling knee pain: Make sure your bike fits
It is essential to make sure your bike fits. Trust me, a bike that does not fit your body is certain to end up causing you pain of all kinds – most notably, cycling knee pain. Take a look at this table that shows the causes of cycling knee pain – notice how the most simple little problems with bike fit can cause serious problems.
Either pay for a professional bike fitting, or fit it yourself. Here is a book that shows you exactly how to do your own bike fitting: Bike Fit: Optimise your bike position for high performance and injury avoidance.
Tip #7 to prevent cycling knee pain: Jump on it!
Do NOT ignore cycling knee pain when it starts – it will just get worse. (I know this from bitter experience.) If you start getting knee pain, deal with it right away. If you have the means, a visit to a physiotherapist is always a good start. If you cannot do that, work through all of the six points above, right away. Just starting a stretching program will make a world of difference in relieving cycling knee pain.
Finally, if all this fails and you still get cycling knee pain, click here for my cheap, miraculously-effective cure for cycling knee pain.
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