Biking and Knee Pain
Cycling is GREAT for knees!! Low joint loading, no twisting and you can go at your own pace. Here in the Northeast Kingdom exists some of our nation’s most spectacular cycling trails and roads.
Here are some TIPS to help keep your cycling experience pain-free:
Setting up your Bicycle’s Seat Height is like “the 3 bears”…neither TOO LOW nor TOO HIGH, the seat height should be “JUST RIGHT”…
If you are developing front of knee or outside of knee pain, your seat height may be TOO LOW. If discomfort is behind your knee, your seat height may be TOO HIGH. To correctly figure out your “JUST RIGHT” seat height; place your heel on your pedal and when that pedal is extended toward ground, your knee should be straight. Therefore, when you place the ball of your foot on the pedal, there will be a slight bend at your knee…”Ahhh…JUST RIGHT”!!
Here are a couple references to help you to set up your cycle for correct alignment:
https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/sizing-and-fit/road-bike-position/ (Use this one for road, gravel.)
https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/bike-fit/set-up-new-road-bike-370764 (This one is for the SERIOUS CYCLIST, VERY DETAILED)
How your kneecap (Patella) moves in front of your knee is determined by:
The angle that your thigh and lower leg form, (“Knock Knee or Bowlegged”) and how the muscles that attach to and cross over that kneecap pull on it. A common cause of knee pain when cycling is altered Alignment of the leg and Muscle Imbalance.
Muscle IMBALANCES usually include a combination of BOTH: TIGHTNESS of one MUSCLE and “INACTIVITY” of another muscle. One muscle being TOO TIGHT can render another muscle not being able to contract strongly (“Inactive”). “I’m not calling you weak here….just a muscle not being active when it should be”.
Here is one common example:
The muscles in front and outside of our thigh (Hip flexors/ Quad / ITB) can get tight from prolong sitting (at work, school, driving). That tightness can lead to, insufficient activation of VMO. The VMO, (Inner Quad) controls Patella alignment as it moves. This IMBALANCE is a leading cause of patella femoral pain in cyclist and walkers/ runners.
A Physical Therapist can evaluate your Alignment (Both Bones and Muscle Imbalances). They will assist you with corrective bone alignment techniques (modifications to shoe or pedal). A check-Up with your Physical Therapist can help you identify your muscle imbalances and show you corrective exercises to keep your body moving pain free.
Set up your cycle with proper alignment settings….Let us here at DW PT help you set up your “Physical Body” alignment and “GET OUT THERE AND RIDE!!!”
Sharon Lamb, PT, SCS, ATC
Sharon joined Dan Wyand PT and Associates in April 2022 bringing over 35 years of experience in clinical outpatient orthopedic, manual and sports physical therapy. She is a Sports Clinical Specialist and Certified Licensed Athletic Trainer graduating from UMass Lowell.
Sharon moved to the Northeast Kingdom after 27 years as owner and full-time clinician of an outpatient physical therapy and sports medicine clinic in the greater Boston area. She has provided care to all levels of athletes from professional and Olympic to adolescent and seniors. Sharon takes most pride in working with each of her patients to create an individualized treatment plan to meet their needs and guide them toward achieving their best possible rehabilitation goals.
Sharon appreciates all the NEK has to offer as an avid mountain biker and lover of nature. She enjoys all 4 seasons outdoors, skiing, gardening, hiking and playing with her dog Kona.