Cyclist’s Knee

The knee is a complex hinge joint between the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone) and patella (kneecap).  A fibrous joint capsule encases these three bones, allowing some rotation, and forward/backward movement. It is this joint that causes problems for cyclists and runners.


Pain is normally felt underneath, or to the side of, the kneecap, and is usually the result of misalignment in the knees and feet, and/or too much high-resistance training, which can damage and weaken the delicate ligaments around the knee.

Also, a saddle that is set too low means that the knee is constantly flexed through the pedal stroke, putting strain on the ligaments.  On the other hand, if the saddle is too high, back and hip problems may occur.

Knee pain is normally gradual, starting with a slight ache but later developing into a “hobbling” injury that leaves you battling to walk normally.


To rule out a poor bike fit have your seat position checked.  The second focus should be to correct any biomechanical difficulties; a biomechanist or specialized podiatrist can advise you.

The way you train should also be considered.  Limit your strength training to once a week.  When cycling, try to maintain a high cadence of between 80 and 90 rpm; good pedal speed is not only about injury-prevention — it is also the most efficient method of pedaling.

You can use shorter cranks on your bike, too, which improves pedal speed, thus limiting pressure applied to the tendons when pushing a high gear.

Unfortunately, rest is the only treatment for cyclist’s knee, although a mild anti-inflammatory and ice therapy can reduce swelling in the area.

Train safe!


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