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How to Ride a Bike to Strengthen Knees

by
author image Beth Rifkin
Based in San Francisco, Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis," "American Fitness" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.
How to Ride a Bike to Strengthen Knees
Bicycle riding is a fun way to strengthen your knee. Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

The knee is the largest joint in the body and also the most susceptible to injuries. Included in the knee is the lower end of the thighbone, the upper end of the tibia, the kneecap and several large ligaments, all of which help the joint stabilize and absorb shock. Bicycle riding is effective at rehabilitating and strengthening the knee since it is low impact, non-weight bearing, and pedaling is a controlled movement in a stable position. Practice safe therapy on the bike to strengthen and rehab your knee.

Step 1

Start with a stationary bike in the gym; build strength first on the recumbent bike, the bike with back support and pedals in front of you, and then progress to the upright as your knee becomes stronger. Much less load is placed on your knee while using a recumbent bike than an upright. Once you can easily ride the recumbent without pain, progress to the upright.

Step 2

Position your saddle at the right height. A saddle that is too high or low can place pressure on your knee and exacerbate the injury or weakness. Your knee should be bent at an angle of five to 10 degrees on the bottom of the downstroke. A bend bigger than that means that the seat is too low and a straight leg is an indication that the seat is too high.

Step 3

Keep the resistance level on the recumbent and stationary bike light; too high resistance too soon can cause injury to a weak knee. Set the resistance level so that you feel some traction, yet you are able to complete a 30-minute cycling session. Increase the resistance by small amounts each week or every workout or as your doctor has directed.

Step 4

Ride on a flat route when you transition to biking outdoors, hills can put pressure on the knee and attempting to climb them too soon can land you back indoors on the stationary bike. Attempt small hills at first when you are ready for inclines and gradually increase the gradient.

Step 5

Choose a low gear when riding outside. Similar to resistance levels, choose a gear that will not be too much for your knee and cause a problem.

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