The knee is the single most frequently injured joint in the sport of cycling. As a sports specialist dealing with cyclists I have found a host of overuse conditions generally start off as low-grade pain that develop into debilitating pain.
So the question is WHY do we get knee pain when cycling is regarded as ‘low impact’? The answer can be explained by postural adaptations and the repetitive nature of the sport. A research article titled ‘On the biomechanics of cycling’ stipulates the increased workload on your vastus medialis and vastus lateralis muscles is significant when dealing with a structurally weak knee, as a majority of force is distributed on the outside of the thigh. Besides strength and flexibility imbalances, there are also structural imbalances that contribute to overuse injuries.
What are the 5 structural issues that contribute to knee injuries?
- Genu Valgum (knock knee)
- Inequality of leg length
- Femoral anterversion (turned-in thighbones)
- Pes planus (flat feet)
- Genu recurvatum (excessive extension of knee)
Tips on preventing knee injuries.
Prevention is always better than cure in sports medicine, but for the reasons described above, it is almost nowhere more important than in the case of knee injuries.
- Make sure you have been fitted for your bike. Even a change as small as replacing worn-out cleats can have a big effect and produce knee pain. The danger of making changes too quickly is real, but many cyclists haphazardly change the seat, the angle of the seat, the pedal and other factors without much thought about what might happen.
- Training needs to be gradual and varied. Too much hill work and/or pushing a high gear for extended periods can overload the structures at the knee.
- Get a thorough assessment by a sports spine specialist to address individual anatomic factors as well as postural imbalance common in the sport. As well as being examined for weakness and flexibility deficits, ask for early-season stretching and strengthening programs.
At Healthspace we work with many cyclists and triathletes that share many sporting triumphs because they have been mindful of a holistic approach to their training. A lot of our work is initially focused on postural correction and core-stability, whilst ensuring we maintain good spinal mobility, particularly through the thorax (chest, spine, ribs & diaphragm) to ensure efficient oxygen exchange. Most athletes are often surprised to see the improvement in their vital lung capacity with some simple treatment using the same methodology as applied to our asthma clients. Once we restore and maximise respiratory function, preventative maintenance care normally suffice to keep athletes at their peak performance.
A Complimentary Review
If you are interested in a complimentary initial musculoskeletal assessment valued at $98 mention you read the article and we would be more than happy to discuss any concerns or identify areas that may benefit from some simple care. Please call 9663 2151 to discuss further or make an appointment. Please be sure to mention the cycling knee pain blog “July Only” offer when booking this FREE service.