Regular bikers can’t help wondering about what effect this process can have on their knees in the long run. Few individuals believe cycling is good for their body, whereas some others think it is bad.
Here we will get to know extensive information about how your joints are affected due to biking. Also, we discuss various types of bicycles and let you know which one suits you better. You even get to know what protective gear you need while biking to keep your joints safe.
Does cycling affect your knees in a bad way?
Though cycling does not directly impact your knees, it does contribute to certain effects that might further influence your joint health. However, you can avoid them if you implement a little caution during exercise.
If your posture is poor and you cycle for a long time with high intensity, your back and neck may be affected. As it is a common effect of any exercise performed with poor posture, you cannot make cycling responsible for this outcome. You can avoid this by maintaining a good posture.
Also, if you carry weight on one side of your bike, the body parts on that side feel greater pressure and affect various joints, including the knees. This, again, can be avoided by positioning your body on the bike to balance your weight.
Possible causes of knee pain
- Sudden speed
- Poor posture
- Weight carried on the bike
- Incorrect gears
- Incorrect saddle height
- Narrow handlebars
- Excessive pedaling
- Excessive cycling
- Sitting in the wrong place
- Poor bike maintenance
- Unsuitable bike for the purpose
- Improper attire
- Cleats can cause knee pain
Increasing your cycling speed suddenly can put greater pressure on your knees. This is why cyclists while pedaling on the road, are prepared for sudden pace changes such as nearing traffic lights or starting to go uphill and maintaining appropriate speed with a gradual change.
You should apply the same principle while using the stationary bike. Though there will not be any sudden hurdles, do not try to increase your speed all of a sudden but do it gradually to not shock your joints.
As already mentioned, poor posture is responsible for having an injury-causing an impact on your knees. A cyclist needs to maintain good posture, particularly when pedaling at high speed.
Weight carried on the bike
Be it your body weight or the additional weight you carry on your bike while cycling, it should be positioned to distribute the weight evenly. The heavier side of the bike will place additional strain on your knees when working at high speed.
If you do not apply the correct gear for high speed yet continue cycling with full force, you are likely to strain your knees. Ensure that you always use the proper gear where resistance matches the speed and the energy you are spending without burning yourself out.
Adjust the saddle to suit your height as an incorrect placement and cause additional pressure on your joints, especially your knees.
If your bike has narrow handlebars similar to those on kid’s bikes, meaning you have less distance on each side of the bars. This scenario can cause frequent bumping of knees into the bar as you cycle. Try to avoid such a design if you can, as it is uncomfortable while you work out.
If you pedal excessively, you might put greater strain on your knees as your knees can only bear the effort they are designed to handle. However, the repetitive pedaling motion might be too much if done inordinately.
Overtraining without taking rest makes your knee joints prone to injury. You need to give your body enough recovery period between each session to keep your workouts optimal and productive.
Sitting in the wrong place
Aligning yourself properly in a correct position while you sit on the stationary bike is very important. Ensure that your back is straight and your feet are parallel while you pedal away. Incorrect positions lead to knee pain.
Poor bike maintenance
Your stationary bike runs smoothly when you maintain it from time to time. A poorly maintained bike is likely to cause knee pain as it is hard to pedal and malfunction. These situations can subject your body to an uneven load which increases strain on your joints.
For instance, if the brakes are not replaced, you apply greater pressure to control the bike even after being worn out. During this process, one of your legs is subjected to more force than the other, leading to an imbalance in energy distribution and causing excessive strain at the same time.
Unsuitable bike for the purpose
Choose a proper bike suitable for the purpose you intend to use it. Suppose you are looking for leisure cycling, then a lightweight stationary bike might be enough. However, if you are serious and committed to workout consistently, buying a bike that can withstand the wear and tear of this usage is necessary.
When the cycle is more robust, it offers you better durability and comfort along with preventing injury. Also, consider your weight and other factors to choose an appropriate bike for yourself.
Even wearing the right clothes or shoes is very important to protect your body from unnecessary injuries. If your clothes are too tight, they prevent free airflow it difficult to pedal smoothly, and lead to strained joints.
Similarly, if your shoes are too loose or too tight, they do not provide enough comfort to push the pedal and increase the pressure on your knees, making them sore over time.
Cleats can cause knee pain
Most people use cleats to have a better grip on the pedal. They are placed under the shoe and provide extra stability and traction while you pedal the bike. However, when they are not fitted properly or not wearing the cycling shoes as you ride the bike, it can cause knee pain.
Other issues causing knee pain
Sometimes knee pain is the result of other underlying issues rather than cycling itself. If you fix them, you might be able to use a stationary bike without any pain.
Strengthen your core muscles
Stationary bike riding requires strong core muscles as they support pedaling action. However, if you have softer core muscles, it can lead to back pain and knee pain. You can overcome this shortcoming by performing 20 to 30 minutes of exercises that strengthen your core.
Improve your efficiency
To improve the efficiency of your core muscles, you can do few sets of planks on an incline bench up against the wall, using your forearms. It gives a fantastic workout to your core which helps you build a strong middle section that supports further workouts.
Maintain your form
Keep doing exercise regularly besides cycling to keep other muscles active that is not activated during cycling. This way, you can keep your body strong and supportive of performing higher-level exercises.
Check that squat
When performing lunges and squats, remember to maintain the correct form by using the right technique. These procedures can have adverse effects on your knees if you are not doing them right.
Tips to prevent knee pain while biking
You can prevent the knee pain that occurs while you do biking by:
- Wearing shoes that support biking, meaning which has proper arch support and a strong protective plate underneath.
- Not putting extra pressure on your heels or toes while you pedal, and remember to keep your feet flat to avoid the overload on your lower body.
- Make sure that you sit up straight as if scooping your abs out to protect your pelvis, back of your legs, and your spine as you pedal.
- During the recovery period, do not rest your weight on a single leg but do some simple stretches the pull out the quads and relieve the pressure on your knees.
Alleviating knee pain after cycling
Cycling is a lower body workout and requires proper cooling down like any other exercise. Sometimes you might experience knee pain after biking which can be alleviated by gardening or some household work.
Remember to keep stretching in between intervals to avoid excessive stress on joints. Also, not skipping the warmup will help you loosen your muscles which helps in preventing injury. Maintain the right posture and do not hunch or used the same repetitive motion for a very long time.
You can avoid or lessen knee pain when you follow these tips.
Why do my knees hurt when riding a bike?
Usually, your knees hurt if you are new to stationary bike riding or cycling as a whole. You can feel the soreness and pain for a few days as your body gets used to the motion. As you get accustomed, your body should heal after a proper resting period.
If it does not, or you are already an experienced biker but still your knees hurt, try adjusting your position and posture by checking if there is anything wrong with it. Wearing bicycle shorts can help distribute the pressure evenly as they have gel pads to properly aid your resting position.
Can cycle damage knees?
If you have a pre-diagnosed knee condition or injury, you should keep away from cycling unless your physician advises you to do otherwise. Cycling can worsen your condition if not equipped with proper gear and supervision.
If you push yourself too hard several times, then the patella tendon in your knee can get damaged over time. Also, if your hamstrings and quads are not strong, the strain shifts to the joints leading to knee pain.
Is riding a stationary bike bad for your knees?
Compared with outdoor biking, stationary bikes offer better safety as you need not encounter unpredictable terrains, fellow cyclists, or any other unexpected collisions. This keeps you safer from injury than cycling outdoors.
Is spinning bad for your knees?
As already mentioned, if you maintain proper posture and form, even spinning bikes are not harmful to your knees.
Is a recumbent bike good for bad knees?
The recumbent bikes are ideal for people with knee issues or injuries. Their upright model relieves all the pressure from the knees and supports your back perfectly, allowing you to exercise without further worsening your pain.
After getting to read till here, you are aware that there are no direct consequences on your knees due to cycling. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims of a few doctors and physicians who emphasize knee damage caused by cycling.
The major reasons that cause knee pain are already covered in this article, and apart from them, some other reasons can be over usage, obesity, age, and injury. So, if you are a healthy individual and have no other underlying issues, then straining your knees is a far shot with cycling.
Is incline biking bad for your knees?
Cycling on an incline can put greater pressure on your knees. If you already have any issues with your knees, it can be problematic when you use a higher incline position mimicking mountain terrain. If you do not have any issues with your knees already, then it is good for you.
Is biking ok for bad knees?
Bad knees mean that if you are affected by specific conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner’s syndrome, you need to choose specially designed bikes that put less pressure on your knees.
Is riding a bicycle bad for your knees?
Riding a bicycle is more challenging than riding a stationary bike as you need to watch out for different obstacles and maneuver through various terrains. It is more stressful than riding a stationary bike.
Is biking or running worse for your knees?
If you have no pre-existing knee issues, biking is better than running as you get more health benefits and lesser strain on your knees. However, if you are in a position of not being able to lift your knees to pedal, then running is a better option.