Experiencing knee pain this winter? The winter is not a cyclist’s favorite season as colder weather can cause the knees to become stiff and tight. Most people are not aware cycling could cause damage to your body: it is considered a low impact activity. Yet, as with running, cycling can put wear and tear on the joints, specifically on the knees or the hips over time.
Constant pedaling is what leads to overuse knee injuries. In a study conducted by Nikola Innovation with Cleveland State University, 42 cyclists randomly selected averaged 4,764 revolutions per hour. Riding just 1 hour per week equates to 250,000 times your knee is flexed in a cycling year. Between 40% and 60% of riders develop overuse knee pain, making it the most common source of injury. Any cyclist is at risk of developing an overuse knee injury from intensity of the ride, riding too far to soon, or fitness.
Knee pain this winter can be alleviated by having a proper bike fit (bike/body alignment) especially overuse injuries in the knees. There are a multitude of problems with bike adjustments that, if resolved, could ease knee pain. Proper frame size, handle bar height, saddle height (too low or high), saddle position (too far forward or back), crank arm length, and the cleat position;. adjusting any of these inches or even millimeters can stop harmful stresses to the knee and truly improve the experience of cycling.
If you are experiencing knee pain how exactly can you adjust your bike for a more comfortable ride? Small adjustments make all the difference and here are three things you can to adjust your bike. First adjusting the saddle height. Generally if it is too low then the knee is jammed too tight at the top of the stroke. According to Active, the leg needs to be able to extend to about 15 to 30 degrees at the bottom of the stroke which will take pressure off of the patellar tendon. On the other hand Bike Dynamics reports that if the saddle height is too high then it cause too much extension of the knee placing strain on the hamstring. Changing the saddle forward or back alters the angle alleviating knee pain as well. Now that the saddle is adjusted the cleats must also be positioned correctly. Not having correctly positioned cleats can cause the knee to internally or externally rotate. “If the foot is held in an unnatural posture, the tibia will be rotated, again causing poor patella tracking and unnecessary strains on knee ligaments.” Bike Dynamics. Last but not least, if the crank arms are too long then the knee will be cramped at the top of stroke just like if the saddle is too low.
Small adjustments can make a big difference. By making simple adjustments to the saddle, cleats, or crank arms can take pressure off your knees this winter allowing you to get out on the road even in that winter chill! To get an official fitting contact your local bike fitter to receive the most accurate adjustments.
CYCLING FACT OF THE DAY
In 1817, Karl von Drais, a German baron, invented a horseless carriage that would help him get around faster. The two-wheeled, pedal-less device was propelled by pushing your feet against the ground, The machine became known as the “draisine,” and led to the creation of the modern-day bicycle.