Cycling and knee pain

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

When we think of cycling we often associate it as a non-weight bearing, easy on the joints and low impact form of exercise, however knee pain is a very common complaint reported by professional and amateur cyclists.

The are three main causes of knee pain in cyclists

  1. Change in training intensity

  2. Change in equipment (bike specific)

  3. Our intrinsic anatomical and biomechanical make up (cyclist specific)

The knee is a hinge joint which is designed to move in only one plane, performing extension and flexion movements. Your quadricep muscle group attaches to your tibia (shin bone) via your patella, with some muscles extending on the inside of your knee and others on the outside. If there is a muscular imbalance between these muscles, it can cause the patella to track out of its groove and cause symptoms like pain, a feeling of instability and/or a clicking sensation.

Cycling induced knee pain is usually caused by tightness in the fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of your thigh called your iliotibial band, which in turn pulls at your kneecap (patella). Cyclists use theirs quadriceps the most in the downward stroke, which is when the greatest amount of pressure is placed on the knee. The position of your bike seat is very crucial for having correct knee alignment when cycling. Not only is seat height important, but you also need to consider seat fore/aft and tilt to ensure all joint are in the correct position.

If you’re currently dealing with any sort of knee pain it is important to have it checked by a healthcare professional so any related condition does not degenerate or progress into something worse. The podiatrists at sports podiatry and physiotherapy centre are all highly skilled and qualified to conduct the necessary knee assessments to determine the causing factors and educate you on the various treatment options.

Treatment options can very from muscular retraining, strengthening and releasing techniques on associated muscles as well as orthotic therapy, depending on the cause of pain. It is also recommended that you book in for a bike fit with someone who can assess your seat position as well as riding style and volume.

If you have any further questions regarding knee pain, or if you are experiencing any other foot, ankle or leg pain you can give us a call on (03) 9568 1011 or alternatively you can book an appointment online to see one of our physiotherapists in Kew, Podiatrists in Kew or Podiatrists in Oakleigh at

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