Sore knees from biking is the most common complaint among bicycle enthusiast due to the large amount of force placed on the knee as you pedal. Typically, the problem is linked to overuse of the knee joint and the soft tissues within, but there might be biomechanical factors involved that also lead to pain.
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There are several common conditions that can cause sore knees from biking. IT band syndrome is a condition that affects the iliotibial band, the tendon that runs along the outside of the leg, and causes pain on the outside of the knee. Patellofemoral knee pain leads to symptoms that tend to radiate from the center of the knee cap. Patellar tendinitis causes pain at the bottom of the knee cap in the patellar tendon.
IT band syndrome is caused by the repetitive friction of the iliotibial band rubbing against the bony surface on the outside of the knee. Patellofemoral knee pain is caused by a maltracking of the knee that results in the underside rubbing against the bone underneath. Patellar tendinitis is an irritation of the patellar tendon that is cause by massive amounts of stress being transferred to the tissue during bicycling.
After an occurrence of sore knees from cycling you should follow the "RICE" protocol. Rest from any activity that aggravates the injury, ice the knees for the first 48 hours of discomfort using a schedule of 20 minutes with ice on the injury and 20 minutes without, use a compression bandage to combat swelling and elevate your legs above heart level when resting. You also might find that a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen helps.
There are some ways you can avoid if not alleviate the pain associated with bike riding. Consider getting a professional bike fitting if you are an avid cyclist. Adjustments to your crank length, seat height and saddle positioning also might solve the problem. Choose gears that allow a cycling cadence of at least 75 to 80 rotations per minute. Do not increase the distance you are cycling by more than 10 percent per week.