Is Cycling Good for Knee Pain?
Sport & Activity
The right low-impact exercises can do a world of good for your joints. Here's how cycling can be especially good for your knees.
Dealing with knee pain can make exercising a struggle. You want your workout to feel good and not be something you simply get through only to deal with inflammation and discomfort afterwards. Having knee pain may mean adjusting your exercise routine and choosing the right shoes. Instead of doing activities that are hard on your knees, you could opt for exercises that give you and your muscles a pain-free workout.
Cycling is great exercise for anyone and it's especially good for people with knee pain.
Cycling Can Actually Be Good for Your Knees
Because riding a bike is a low-impact exercise, it puts less stress on weight-bearing joints. This not only includes your knees but also your hips and feet. What's more, the movement of your legs pushing on the pedals works certain joints, which can help reduce pain or stiffness. Cycling can also improve range of motion in your knees, so if you suffer from both pain and stiffness, your bicycle may help loosen things up.
Cyclists enjoy these low-impact benefits to their knees and other joints, and cycling also provides a great cardio workout. Pedalling can support overall health, strengthening your heart and lungs and even improving the muscle function of cyclists.
Biking Is A Great Option if You Have Arthritis
The Flexibility of Cycling
Riding a bike enables you to set the intensity each time you hop on. Not only can you pick a route to suit your mood but you can also use the bike itself to modify the impact on your knees.
When your legs need a break, simply coast for a while. You can also move into a lower gear to lower the intensity of your pedalling. Going hard or light makes no real difference when it comes to stretching out sore knees and reducing stiffness and discomfort, so create the workout that works best for you.
The Right Bike for the Job
The most important thing to check is the seat position on your bike. If it's too high or too low, it will impact how your knees bend each time you pedal. The optimal position puts your knees at a 45-degree angle at the top of a stroke. It also leaves a small bend in your knees when you extend your leg at the bottom.
While you're making adjustments, check the position of your pedals. How close they are to the bike itself can affect knee pain. To test if they're in the right spot, you should be able to centre your feet on the pedals without any pain when you point your toes forwards.
And All The Other Necessary Bike Gear
Although you can bike in any shoe, if you're cycling regularly to address knee pain, you may want a shoe designed for cycling. Features to look for include:
- Stiff soles
- Studs (2 or 3)
- Minimal tread—these shoes aren't for walking
- Arch support
Cycling shoes have different types of closure styles, so you can pick the one that works best for your feet. You can opt for dials, laces, straps or even buckles.
Bike-specific clothing, such as tights for men and leggings for women, can make your ride more comfortable as well. It can also make you more visible when on the road. Look for clothing with:
- Stretchy fabric that makes it easy to move but also stays in place
- Moisture-wicking properties that reduce friction
- Waterproof and windproof features if necessary for where you ride
- Breathable fabric that also dries quickly, like Nike Dri-FIT
Most cycling clothing is form-fitting to help with aerodynamics and you should look for clothing that has a reflective-design patch for your safety when biking at night.
When getting gear, there's one more important piece to remember—the helmet. Find one that fits well, with a design you like. There's no reason your gear can't feel stylish while protecting you from injury.
Outdoor vs. Indoor Cycling
Indoor cycling, on the other hand, puts you in complete control. You can adjust the resistance at any point and hop off when you're done without having to save enough energy to get all the way home. You can ride in any weather and at any time of the year, which may prove more beneficial in creating a routine to help reduce the symptoms associated with knee pain.
Your Choices for an Indoor Bike
Stationary bikes are also kinder on your knee joints but offer a workout that feels more similar to cycling outside and actually moving. They're better for those with knee pain who prefer an indoor workout simply because they want to:
- Watch TV while cycling
- Cycle with a group in a class
- Ride in a safer environment
- Set very specific workout routines