How To Prevent and Treat 'Cyclist's Knee'

Posted on: 11 July 2016

Although cycling is a relatively low-impact sport that's pretty kind to your joints, it's not uncommon for knee injuries to occur.  Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is one such injury. Here's now to prevent and treat it.

What is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS)?

Your patella (kneecap) rests beneath your patella tendon.  During movement, the patella tracks beneath the tendon along a groove in your femur.  If this tracking is incorrect for any reason, the cartilage on both the femur and patella are worn down, leading to pain when you move your knee.

The condition can be caused by overuse or by weakness in the leg and buttock muscles, leading to strain being placed on your knees.

How can you fix the problem?

Sessions with a good sports physio are essential if you are to fix this problem long-term; however, there are some exercises you can do at home that may help.

Exercise 1

Stand on the bottom step of your stairs.  Keep one foot balanced on the stair, whilst lowering the other leg down until your heel touches the ground.  Bend only at the knee and don't dip your hip down; keep your back straight.  Repeat the exercise 10 times on each side and increase the reps as you become stronger.

Exercise 2

Lay on your back with a foam roller or a firm pillow under your knee.  Squeeze your quad muscle (on the front of your thigh) to contract it and cause your foot to rise up, straightening your leg.  Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat the exercise 10 times.  As you find the exercise becoming easier, you could add light ankle weights or hold the squeeze for longer.

Preventing overuse

In addition to too much training, using very high gears can also place undue strain on your knees.  You can help to prevent this by adjusting your cadence to pedalling in an easier gear, which puts much less stress on your knees.

You can also try adjusting your cycling technique.  Instead of pushing down hard on the pedals, practice pedalling in smooth circles.  This will ensure that you use your hamstring and buttock muscles more, relieving the strain on your knees and overworked quads.

In conclusion

You can take steps to relieve the pain of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome by following the tips given above.  It's also important that you seek the advice of a qualified sports physio and aren't tempted to just battle on through the pain with the assistance of willpower and paracetamol.