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Cycling Knee Pain

Cycling knee pain is generally very widespread among cyclists due to frequent cycling. A cyclist is bound to experience knee pain at some point in their career, whether a beginner or a pro. A systematic review and the latest research have shown that about 94% of professional cyclists experience any injury in the whole year and 23% of professional cyclists complain about knee pain. Research has also shown that 36% to 62% of people account for knee pain, the most frequent and recurring injury for cyclists. Of course, cyclists have immense training pressure and responsibility. As a result of this, cyclists may acquire knee pain.

It was found that this widespread knee pain in cyclists results from a condition named “patello-femoral pain syndrome”. This syndrome is usually common in people with high impact use of the knees, for example, cyclists. Due to their recurrent movement of knees, Cyclists can get knee pain, and they cannot move freely and correctly, and it is also possible that their knee function may not remain normal.

In Which Region Knee Pain Occur Due to Cycling:

Certain particular regions have comparatively more chances of knee pain occurring due to cycling. These are given below:

  • Anterior knee pain
  • Posterior knee pain
  • Lateral knee pain
  • Iliotibial band syndrome

A lady with cycling knee pain

Anterior Knee Pain:

Anterior means ‘in front of’. This is the pain found in front of the knee, the area surrounding the knee cap. In this inflammation, the quadriceps muscles are connected with the shin bone through the patella, so when a cyclist cycles and tilts his knees, the stress of pedalling is transferred to the Patella-femoral joint mainly compressing it to the lateral side antagonistic to the thigh bone.

Posterior Knee Pain:

Posterior knee pain originates in the back of the knee but is not very common. It is mainly caused due to over-straightening the knee and often has a lot to do with the hamstrings. Cyclists use their quads during the downward stroke a lot which eventually puts pressure on the knee joint.

Lateral or Medial Knee Pain:

Lateral knee pain, also named medial knee pain, is related to the pain at the sides of the knees. It is more frequently occurring, and the feet are affected if someone acquires lateral knee pain due to cycling.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome:

Besides all the types mentioned above related to cycling knee pain, another condition closely associated with patellar contraction disorder is Ilio-tibial band syndrome. In this syndrome, a rigid and dense fibrous band of tissue runs parallel from the pelvic region exactly beneath the knee to the medial thigh. It is such an unpleasant syndrome that whenever the knee is tilted or straightened, its motion is toward the back and forth over the bumpy end of the thigh bone right above the knee, softened by a bursa containing a fluid in it. This is the region in which irritation or inflammation can occur, which is then causes too much pain whenever the knee is moved.

What Are The Common Causes of Knee Pain?

There are hundreds of possible factors that can cause knee pain. The study has shown that cycling knee pain is commonly widespread in cyclists due to repetitive motion of their knees while pedalling. This is also sometimes referred to as an overuse injury. Some of the reason that results in knee pain are as follows:


The phenomenon of growing old necessarily of bones is called ageing. This is due to deficiency and weakness in bones. As cyclists have to do hard training, if they don’t take healthy meals and nutrients, stress on their knees increases, their bones become old and weak, and they may suffer from cycling knee pain.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury:

The anterior cruciate ligament (one of four ligaments) attaches your shin bone to the thigh bone. This injury commonly occurs in people who have to do difficult training or exercises like cyclists: football or basketball players.

Knee Bursitis:

Sometimes, wounds on the knees cause inflammation in a fluid-filled tiny pouch that softens the outside of the knee joint (bursa) so that ligaments and tendons float quietly over the joint.

Dislocated Knee cap:

In some situations, the kneecap may be dislodged (not remain in its original position) and become the reason for knee pain.

Previous Injury or Fractures:

Sometimes, the patella (kneecap) can be fractured or injured, followed by accidents or falls. Previous knee injuries can significantly aggravate knee pain if you cycle a lot. The consequences of such fractures include pain, swelling, stiffness in the knees.

Wrong Technique:

Incorrect cleat placement is often a very big factor behind knee pain during cycling. Misaligned cleats often cause your foot to be excessively toed in, which can aggravate the knee pain during long cycling sessions. Besides cleat position, knee pain can arise from an improper bike fit. You can solve this issue by using a professional bike fitter. Moreover, wrong saddle height (too far back or too high), jittery pedal strokes, and improper crank lengths are some of the other major reasons that can add up to your knee pain.

Symptoms Of Knee Pain Due to Cycling:

These specific conditions indicate that you might suffer from Knee pain:

  • On the knee, you must feel swelling and redness.
  • Patients that acquire knee pain are unable to move correctly.
  • Weakness and cracking sounds are reported.
  • One can not bear weight on his knees.
  • In addition to all of the above, the patient may acquire fever.
  • Incapable of full extension and flexion of the knees.

How to Treat Cycling Knee Pain:  


The structures in and around the knees have a poor blood supply, which is why they can struggle to heal on their own. It is the oxygen and nutrients in our blood supply that help to heal these structures.

Prolotherapy involves the injection of a regenerative solution into these structures to provide a direct supply of what is needed to heal them and provide pain relief.

As the treatment is helping to treat the root cause of the problem, it is deemed to be a permanent fix.

Treatment is based upon the condition that caused the cycling knee pain. In some cases, pain is mild and can be treated by following home remedies, but in other cases, the knee pain becomes too severe that you need some medical treatment.

  • First of all, doctors prescribe medicines or pain relievers that help you to relieve pain.
  • Physiotherapy is recommended for the affected knee region by the doctors, including mild exercises so that your mobility increases. Your physiotherapist will help you with relevant strength exercises that are targeted to alleviate knee pain due to cycling.
  • You can also use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce your knee pain.
  • In some rare cases, the doctors do surgery, but it is done if every other treatment does not work.

How Is it Diagnosed? 

Doctors or physicians suggested the following medical tests to diagnose the actual reason for your knee pain:

CT Scan (Computerized Tomography Scan):

A CT scan can help precisely recognize the cause and assist in diagnosing the inflammation.

MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging):

Waves like radio waves and a powerful magnet are used in MRI to produce a 3D image of the inner part of the knee.


Sound waves are used in this technology to create real-time images of the tissue surrounding your knee.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Knee Pain Due to Cycling:

Be Careful While Cycling:    

It is crucial to be careful while cycling. Pushing too big a gear can exert more strain on your knees.

Avoid Continuous Cycling: 

After a short cycling time, one should take a break to relax his knee joints and avoid continuous cycling.

Being Overweight:    

One should reduce his body weight if he is overweight because weight exerts stress on his knees while cycling.

Appropriate Sitting Position On Cycle:    

You must ensure that your sitting posture is good since an awkward sitting position can exert extra pressure on your knee joints, resulting in knee pain. Studies have found that saddle height can significantly alter knee biomechanics. Always keep a comfortable saddle position, a saddle too high can lead to back pain. Last but not the least, invest in a good bike that has comfortable handlebars.

Strengthen Your Back:

It is important to note that legs work from your abdominal core – the abs, lower back, hip flexors, and glutes are all involved. So, a cyclist’s core needs to be strong in order to avoid injuries during prolonged cycling sessions. It is always better to work on your strength training alongside your regular athletic training.

A man holding his cycling knee pain


  1. Clinic, M. (2021, May 11). Knee pain. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-2035084
  2. Advanced Solutions International, I. (2019). Preventing cycling injuries. Cycling Injury Prevention. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/STOP/STOP/Prevent_Injuries/Cycling_Injury_Prevention.aspx
  3. Health, B. (2021). Cycling – preventing injury. Cycling – preventing injury – Better Health Channel. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cycling-preventing-injury
  4. Pedia, P. (2022). Cyclist’s knee. Physiopedia. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Cyclist%27s_Knee

Radar, B. (2021, April 13). Why do my knees hurt? cycling knee pain explained, and how to manage it. BikeRadar. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/fitness-and-training/cycling-knee-pain-the-problem-areas/

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