Not only is bicycling super fun, it’s generally very safe and easy on your body as well. It’s low impact and highly aerobic, meaning it gets your heart rate up without wearing down your body. Unlike sports such as running or basketball, you’re in no danger of colliding with another person, and your legs never have to bang into the ground. Instead, they’re moving in stress-free, low impact circles.
But even the safest activities have the occasional risk, especially if you’re not adhering to proper form. One complaint we’ve heard from some of our bicycling friends is that after a long ride, their knees hurt. Unfortunately, there are a few mistakes that some riders make that ends up hurting their knees – but if you follow these six easy tips, you can knock out knee pain for good!
Keep Your Knees Straight
As you pedal, make sure you do so in perfect circles, keeping your knees straight. Any movement or wobbling to the side – either inwards or outwards – increases stress on your cartilage and knee cap as they rub together, and can lead to serious discomfort. So keep your pedaling as straight and circular as possible.
Keep Your Speed Up
It’s important to keep up a decent speed as you ride, so you can maintain a fluid motion as you pump your knees and legs. Experts say that pedaling under 60 RPM (revolutions per minute) can be dangerous, and actually recommend you try to stay above 80 RPM. The trick to maintaining this speed is to make sure you are in the proper gear (so as not to be going faster than is comfortable for you.) Or if you’re finding it hard to keep pedaling at a proper speed, consider the mechanical assistance of an electric bike.
Watch Your “Float”
This advice applies to riders who use clip-in pedals, but it can make all the difference: make sure the “float” of your foot position matches the natural angle of your feet and ankles. Angling your legs too sharply radiates tension through your entire legs, and can sharply increase pressure on your knees. For the best results, keep your float under 4.5 degrees.
Move Yourself Back
Here’s another thing that you might not think impacts your knees, but absolutely does: the position of your feet, and the position of your “seat.” If you’re riding too close to your handlebars, it changes the angles your knees have to be at, and that can lead to some serious ouchies. So sit your butt further back, keep your feet planted properly on the pedals, and watch the pain glide away.
Consider Kinesio Tape
For those with extra sensitive knees, we recommend looking into kinesio, or elastic therapeutic, tape. It clings to your muscles and joints, keeping your knees in proper alignment. Unlike traditional athletic tape, it mimics your skin, allowing for a much greater degree of movement, and is clinically shown to reduce pain.
Don’t Push Too Hard
This one comes down to your mentality: don’t push yourself too hard! Some people, when feeling a little pain in a body part, think they can just “push through the pain.” That might work for something like a headache, but when it comes to your knees, it’s not worth the risk. Something that may just be a minor ache today could flare up into a serious tear or worse, should you keep riding on it. So if you’re feeling a serious ouch, take a day or two off from riding, or consider switching your ebike to all-electric mode.
Do you have any favorite tips or advice for dealing with pain when you bike? Let us know your preferred methods in the comments below!