Updated August 2019
Here’s a post all about how to cure cycling knee pain with an amazingly effective and very cheap cure for cycling knee pain that works for all kinds of knee pain. I learned this cure from a very wise naturopathic doctor. Thanks to this cure, I no longer suffer from cycling knee pain. This post also includes advice on how to avoid cycling knee pain.
I have had every kind of cycling knee pain!
I have had every kind 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.
Knee pain is the most common injury for all athletes
It’s no wonder that I have had so much cycling knee pain. Among all athletes, knee pain is the most common overuse injury. And among cyclists, knee pain is the most common leg overuse injury. Repetitive stress injuries are common in cyclists, no doubt due to the fact that cycling is just so addictive. (Source: Althunyan, Abdullatif K et al. – see source list at end of post.)
Also, cycling knee pain is common because the movement in cycling is very repetitive – when cycling for an hour, we average up to 5,000 pedal revolutions. Apart from that, high mileage, and the rapid increase in training intensity that many of us cannot resist in early spring, can both lead to cycling knee injuries. (Source: CPT Chad Asplund – see source list at end of post.)
Cycling knee injuries can be caused by ill-fitting bikes and training excesses
As you can see from this table from a medical research report, there are all kinds of cycling knee injuries that can be caused simply by an ill-fitting bike, as well as by training excesses.
So, in short, cycling knee injuries pain are so common that it’s almost impossible to avoid cycling knee pain. However, nothing will make me quit cycling – not even crippling knee pain. In fact, I remain committed to trying to do ambitious things, like riding charity bike rides – and just simply riding a bike until the day before I die. Move it or lose it, right?
I have tried every kind of recommended cure for cycling knee pain
So, I have tried every kind of recommended cure for cycling knee pain. I have gone through more expensive tubes of the homeopathic remedy 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, allegedly, 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 parts of my body (that are NOT my knees) in an attempt to craftily defeat the cycling knee pain via the ancient wisdom of acupuncture.
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.
Insane Suggestion from My Naturopathic Doctor to Cure Cycling Knee Pain?
Then one day my naturopathic doctor made a suggestion that I thought was completely insane – as well as probably very messy. So of course, even though I was paying more than $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 Montreal, I was desperate enough to actually try my naturopathic doctor’s suggested cure for my cycling knee pain.
My Cycling Knee Pain Cure!
This is what I did: I bought a bottle of castor oil for $12. I lowered myself (not without pain) to the floor to pull 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 large quantities of castor oil on my knees, put a kitchen dish towel on top of that, covered that with a plastic packet, and topped it all off with the heating bag. Lovely. (Fortunately, I have a leather couch, so no great harm was done to innocent furniture.)
I left the heating pad 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 Montreal, 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 behind my cycling knee pain 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 naturopathic doctor swears by it. And so do I, now. 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.
Buy castor oil from Amazon.ca here (especially for Corinne Smith in White Rock, and other Canadians!)
Try Tumeric as an anti-inflammatory for Knee Pain
Tumeric is a spice that has been used to treat all kinds of illnesses for thousands of years, as part of Siddha medicine. More to the point for me – my mom uses it. She swears by it as an anti-inflammatory, and takes it every single day to prevent aches and pains in her joints and bones. She’s now 76 and has still never been on a prescription med in her life. So I decided to try it for my tennis elbow and … all I can say is that it had dramatic effects. When I take it in the morning, my tennis elbow simply doesn’t happen.
Of course, long term I need to deal with what is causing the tennis elbow (it’s not tennis!). But for now, it’s just great not to have to suffer from it. Also, I think if tumeric has such a dramatic anti-inflammatory on my elbow, it might be doing a whole lot of anti-inflammatory things on my insides. So it’s well worth the rather nasty taste – I just put half a teaspoon of the spice in half a glass of water and chug it. Every.single.morning.before.coffee!
If you prefer to do things in a less horrible way, you can buy Tumeric capsules. It is very well worth a try, given that most knee pain is related to some kind of inflammation somewhere.
Bonus: Video of 3 exercises that prevent and cure cycling knee pain
This video shows three vital exercises that will both prevent and cure cycling knee pain, demonstrated by skilled physiotherapist Saqib Niaz from Royal City Physio:
Tips for Preventing Cycling Knee Pain
Of course, it is way better to prevent cycling knee pain! These are my top tips for preventing cycling knee pain.
- 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.
- Stretch after every ride! This is absolutely essential. And stretch on the days you don’t ride, too. I cannot over-emphasize how essential stretching is for pain prevention. This post 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.
- 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. In fact, incorrect leg position is a very common cause of cycling knee pain, as demonstrated in a scientific study (Source: Bini and Bini – see source list below.)
- 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.
- Wear dedicated cycling shoes. They don’t have to have clips – they just need 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.
- Don’t ignore cycling knee pain when it starts – it will just get worse. If you start getting knee pain, deal with it right away.
Finally, good luck with dealing with your cycling knee pain. And hats off to you for being so dedicated to cycling that you don’t let a little knee pain put you off!
Althunyan, Abdullatif K et al. Knee problems and its associated factors among active cyclists in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. Journal of family & community medicine vol. 24,1 (2017): 23-29. doi:10.4103/2230-8229.197178.
Asplund, Chad, CPT, MD, Knee Pain and Bicycling: Fitting Concepts for Clinicians; The Physician and Sports Medicine, 32.4.
Bini, Rodrigo Rico, and Alice Flores Bini. Potential factors associated with knee pain in cyclists: a systematic review. Open access journal of sports medicine vol. 9 99-106. 23 May. 2018, doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S136653
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