Knee pain has been a constant issue for me throughout my life. It all started when I started crossfit – imagine an hour-long intense class of heavyweight squats, high-speed lunges, and high-resistance jumps. I was hooked. But a few months in, I was feeling pulsing knee pain at least once a week. The level of stress I was placing on my legs, quads, and knees, was inevitably making my fitness habits unsustainable.
As someone who loves fitness – for vanity and of course, health reasons – I turned to something a little more sustainable and functional for strengthening my knees.
I bought a hybrid bike!
Is Cycling Really Good for Knee Pain?
While it seems counter-intuitive to start cycling because of knee pain, I learned that with proper cycling habits and positioning, cycling is very beneficial for alleviating knee pain, while providing the daily exercise I crave. If you are like me and love living in suburbia but you work in the city, I recommend incorporating cycling into your daily commute.
Even if you aren’t a commuter but are an avid fan of the gym and have experienced knee pain, consider cycling as an alternative to keep you in shape without overworking the knee.
Why Specifically a Hybrid Bike?
A hybrid bike is a perfect combination of a mountain and road bike. I am not a pro cyclist, nor do I commonly use cycling jargon, but I definitely recommend a hybrid bike to anyone out there who wants to strengthen their bodies without compromising the health of their knees.
Designed for comfort and versatility, hybrid bikes are highly effective and adjustable to a variety of needs, including those suffering from knee pain or arthritis symptoms. Noticeably, their tires are much bigger but narrower than their mountain bike counterparts, making your pedaling much more efficient.
There are many bikes on the market, but let me tell you how I chose an affordable hybrid bike to begin my cycling journey. Trust me, product research goes a long way towards choosing the right bike.
Hybrid Bike Features to Consider for Your Knee Pain
Saddle and Saddle Position in Relation to Cycling Knee Pain
This is the number one priority I considered when selecting my hybrid bike. When choosing a saddle, the padding, material, and shape of the seat all contribute to the overall comfort of your derriere in the bike seat.
Aside from the padded material, you need to make sure that the saddle is adjusted at a height where your leg is comfortably and completely straight when your foot is at the 6 o’clock position (that is, as far down as possible). If your saddle is too high, you are overextending your leg muscles, thus working your knees more than they need to be. On the flip side, if your saddle is too low, your knees are too tightly angled, causing more stress if you are biking for extended periods of time.
If you find yourself suffering from knee pain after cycling, always revisit the positioning of your saddle. Again, the comfort and protection of your knees is a collaborative effort between all parts of your bicycle and your cycling position.
Gears and Cycling Knee Pain
Imagine you’re cycling up a hill on your trusty hybrid bike. Do you want to pedal slowly with high resistance or pedal quickly with an easier gear? For the sake of your knees, I hope you’re thinking of the latter.
It is important that you choose a bike with gears that can accommodate the different terrains you will be riding on. Personally, I know that I will be on the hills on the weekends and on flat pavement on my work days. When I’m cycling up a hill, I switch to an easier gear to alleviate the stress on my knees. I only switch to a harder gear when I am on flat pavement – it gives that resistance I need to strengthen my leg muscles, accelerate quickly, and keep my heart rate up.
Suspension and Cycling Knee Pain
The suspension on the bike absorbs the shock when you are on uneven terrain, thus protecting your knees from unnecessary injuries. Choosing a hybrid bike with good suspension is very important if you anticipate riding on rocky roads or through potholes and ditches. In my search, I have heard positive reviews from owners of Schwinn Network 3.0 and sixthreezero EVRYJourney hybrid bikes when it comes to versatility and shock-absorption.
Bike Frame and Cycling Knee Pain
While the frame does not directly effect your knees, it is the ergonomic crux of your biking position. Two things I considered were the frame material and the overall bike shape. With regard to material, think light (as in aluminum).
Bike Weight and Cycling Knee Pain
If you are a commuter like me, you can expect to carry your bike for short distances frequently – into your house, work building, or onto a bike rack. With that in mind, lifting a heavy bike every day, even for a short period of time, can put undesirable stress on your knees as well. The sixthreezero EVRYJourney hybrid bikes have aluminum frames that keep it lightweight and easy to carry. Of course, light weight also makes for easier cycling, and less stress on your knees.
Frame Size and Cycling Knee Pain
When you pick a frame, also consider the size that is the best fit for your height range. A frame that is too small for your height can place your body way too far forward on the bike, thus compromising your leg and knee position while biking. Carefully read the sizing recommendations that most bike vendors present. Also, there is a very good post on bike frame sizes here.
Start Your Cycling Adventure Today
Although my legs often feel sore from cycling, my knee pain has significantly decreased since I started biking. While others may prefer indoor cycling, I definitely prefer the fresh air that blows through my hair when I am on my hybrid bike – not to mention the hefty gym membership fees I’ve saved since I quit crossfit.
If you have been experiencing long-term knee pain, definitely consult with your physician before committing to cycling as your go-to exercise. When you’re ready, begin your search!
Here is a list of the best hybrid bikes under $500. Never just settle for a bike, especially if you are prone to knee and leg injuries. Protect your knees, get where you need to go, lose a few pounds, and have an adventure while doing it! Good luck and happy cycling!
Thanks to Our Guest Poster, Bee!
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