Biking is a great physical exercise that can provide various health benefits. Studies have suggested that biking regularly can significantly lower the risk of several health conditions, ranging from reduced weight to strengthen joints. Nevertheless, one of the common experiences for most riders is knee pain. This complication has led many people to ask, ‘Is biking bad for your knees?’
When it comes to biking, legs and knees are the main body parts that perform the activity. However, it does not necessarily mean that biking causes knee pain and other related health problems. The reason is that several factors can lead to knee pain when biking, such as poor riding position or sudden changes in cycling habits, among others.
As such, this write-up will list some of the potential causes of knee pain among bikers and the ways to reduce them. Besides, it highlights the essential benefits of biking for your knees. Read on if you want to know the answer and solution to this question.
How Is biking Bad for Your Knees?
Though biking is not the main reason for your knee-related problems, here are some factors that can potentially affect your knees while biking:
Riding a bike that does not fit you
A poor bike fit is one of the potential factors that can affect your knees. It means riding a bike where the pedal height and saddle do not fit you well. These components need to be in the right position to increase efficiency and comfort, thereby reducing any health complications. As such, you should always buy a bike that fits you properly. You can follow this guide for bike size charts for women or men. You can also check out our kid’s bike size guide.
Poor riding position
A poor riding form is another factor for various health complications, such as knee pain. Many riders do not maintain a great posture when riding a bike; in most cases, they are either slouching or bending their necks oddly. It can further contribute to the risk of sore muscles or injuries. To ensure a pain-free ride, you should retain a proper position while biking.
Sudden changes in your biking habits
Sudden modification in biking habits is one of the main causes of knee pain for many riders, especially beginners. These changes could be riding for longer than you typically would or pedaling too hard or fast. It can lead to joint pain or inflammation as your muscles, ligaments, and bones cannot handle such rapid changes.
Riding at low cadence
If you are having knee pain even after considering the above factors, then you must be riding at a low cadence. Cadence refers to the number of pedals you make per minute. For instance, a cadence of 75 RPM (Revolution per Minute) means that you complete 75 revolutions in one minute. The force applied to the pedal passes through the knees. As such, biking at low cadence will put a significant strain on your knee every time you make a pedal stroke.
Besides, recent studies have linked knee pain and other joint problems to genetics. As such, heredity, along with poor biking habits, can further contribute to severe knee-related issues.
Ways to prevent knee pain while biking
Biking with knee pain is significantly inconvenient for all riders. If you want to get rid of this problem and other related injuries, then you should remember the following points and implement them in cycling activity.
Choose a proper fit bike.
Buying a bike that fits you properly is essential to prevent knee pain while biking. For instance, if the seat is significantly low, your knees will bend while pedaling. On the other hand, you will have to over-extend your knees if the seat is too high. As such, you should choose a bike that has an optimal seat height and offers good comfort. It will keep your knees at 45 degrees angle when the pedal is at a top stroke, and your knees will slightly bend when you are making the bottom stroke.
Moreover, it is essential to place your feet properly if you want to avoid knee pain. You can maintain a proper foot position by giving importance to your pedals. Ensure that your pedals are not too far or close from the frame of the bike. For the best type of bike to ride we recommend checking out the top hybrid bikes.
Build up sufficient leg strength
Biking involves repetitive motion of pedaling, which can potentially affect your knees and other body parts. For you to perform this repetitive activity, your leg should have sufficient strength. Your leg muscles are likely to be out of balance if biking is your only way of exercising. The muscles of your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes should be in balance to reduce stress on your knees. As such, you should undertake other related exercises that can strengthen the muscles in your leg. It will help you to carry out your biking activity without much stress on your knees, thereby having a pain free biking. Besides, it will help if you work on developing the other body muscles.
Modify riding habits progressively
Making sudden changes in your biking habits, such as riding too hard or long, is not a smart choice. Ensure that you make changes in your riding habits progressively. For instance, when it comes to increasing the riding speed, it is crucial that you start at a slow pace and then increase it over time.
For any workout or sports, it is crucial to do a proper warm-up. And, there is no exception when it comes to biking. You might be biking as a hobby and not as a workout; nevertheless, it is still a form of exercise. It means that your body, especially your leg, needs a proper warm-up before starting to ride. An ideal way to do a proper warm-up is by starting your ride at a low speed and then gradually increasing it to a higher speed.
Benefits of biking for your knees
So far, we have discussed some of the potential factors that can affect your knees while biking. If you implement the above-listed ways to prevent knee pain, then biking can be good for your knees and is considered one of the best means of exercise.
Biking is an excellent way of exercising, especially for people suffering from osteoarthritis or other joint-related problems. The reason is that biking regularly can strengthen the muscles around the knees, thereby reducing damage to your knees. Besides, biking can improve your leg strength as it helps you to build up the core muscles. It can further help to prevent knee-related problems.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should you exercise with knee pain?
According to experts, a person suffering from knee pain should avoid all types of exercise that involve jumping. They further recommend undertaking moderate walking as it is a low-impact activity. Nevertheless, the walking activity should start at a slow pace and should not extend beyond 20 minutes per day.
How long should you ride for a good workout?
If you are biking as a workout activity, then you should avoid any rough terrain. For your workout to be effective, experts suggest at least 30 to 60 minutes of riding on your bike. Nevertheless, every ride should start with a proper warm-up.
What muscles does biking use?
Biking uses several essential muscles of your body. Nevertheless, the core muscles involved in biking are the hamstrings, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius.
Does biking make your legs bigger?
The answer to this question is no. Engaging in proper biking activity helps to improve your leg muscles. It also strengthens your legs, thereby making it more fatigue-resistant while exercising. Nevertheless, biking does not make your legs bulk up.
What is the best bike for bad knees?
There is not even a single bike that is best for bad knees. If you are suffering from knee-related problems, you will have to buy a bike that properly fits you. However, we recommend consulting your doctor for people suffering from chronic knee pain before taking up biking as an exercise.
Is cycling in the winter bad for your knees?
All joint-related problems are more common during the winter. It is because the temperature drops significantly lower when you are biking. Nevertheless, you can reduce this problem by wearing the right clothing type, such as biking pants, gloves, and other related protectors.
Conclusion – Why Cycling Can be Considered Good for your Knees
Biking is a fun-filled activity and is a form of low-impact exercise. It is a great outdoor activity that can provide several benefits by protecting against serious health conditions such as arthritis, heart attack, obesity, and stroke, among many others.
However, knee pain is a common experience for many cycling enthusiasts, which has led people to think that biking is bad for the knees.
But, that is not necessarily true, for there are several potential factors that can affect your knees while biking. Some of the factors include picking a poorly fit bike, unfavorable riding position, and sudden changes in biking habits.
The good news is that you can prevent these potential causes of knee pain and make cycling good for your knees instead. One way is by picking a bike that perfectly fits you while another way is riding at an optimum cadence. Besides, you can take other precautions such as modifying biking habits progressively, building sufficient leg strength through various physical exercises, and using proper biking equipment.
These will help to reduce the risk of knee pain and other related injuries while biking.