Cycling and knee pain

Cycling and knee pain go together. The pain, which in medical jargon is known as IT band syndrome, is caused by iliotibial tissue. This thick fibrous tissue that runs from the hip to the knee gets stretched because of the constant up and down movement of the legs, and starts rubbing against the bony portions of the hip or knees, causing pain.

Usually, it is the beginners who suffer from this pain. They ride for long hours without paying adequate attention to their knees or feet. The other causes for the pain are: faulty saddle, wrong sitting position, hard riding, cleat alignment, and individual body anatomy. The only way to reduce the pain is to cycle slowly. This makes it easier for the body to get used to the physical stress of cycling. Minimizing hard riding and doing stretching exercises can also reduce the pain.

Seat adjustment also helps. The pressure on the knee goes down when the seat is neither too low nor too high. If the seat is high the pain develops behind the knee; if it is too low it enters the patella. The best is to visit a cycle store and get your seat height fixed.

Another component that should be checked is the cleats. The cleats should not float too much internally nor should they float externally. Their position should be neutral. The shoe position can be checked at bike shops with the “fit kit” method.

Another common cycling-related injury is chondromalacia. This is caused on account of constant pressure that is applied to the cartilage behind the patella. The discomfort can be reduced by strengthening the quadriceps muscles, which run along the front of the thigh. The physicians recommend exercises like sitting on a chair and stretching the leg. The pain can be lessened by avoiding sideward movement while pedaling.

Application of ice packs or resting the knee also mitigates the pain. It is also important to cut down on riding time till the knee and hip pain subsides. Also, the cyclist should avoid riding at high speeds or on bumpy roads for some time. Mild stretching and icing before and after the ride is another way to keep the muscles loose. The legs also need to be kept warm during the cold weather.

If the pain persists then the cyclist must visit a sports clinic or see a doctor.

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