Knee Pain and Bicycle Position
Fine-tune your bike position to avoid early season injuries.
is more important for cleats with less than 5 degrees of float. Most newer road cleats allow greater degrees of float to protect your knees.
Finally, individual cyclist anatomy may contribute to knee and hip pain. Cyclists with leg length discrepancies may develop knee pain as only one side is correctly fitted to the bicycle. This leads to increased stress inside the knee and hip joints on the improperly fitted side. Cyclists with flat feet may be more prone to excessive pronation (internal rotation) of the lower extremity causing greater stress on the IT band at the knee. Orthotics (anatomic shoe inserts crafted by podiatrists) may correct the alignment of the knee and decrease or prevent medial or lateral rotational stress on the connective tissue of the ankle, knee or hip, thus reducing the pain.
In order to minimize knee and hip pain in the early season, take it easy for the first few weeks. Pedal with low resistance and a cadence of 80-90rpm allowing your body to adjust again to road riding, and possibly a slightly new bike position. Also, try to minimize hard riding or hill work for the first few weeks. Stretching exercises of your lower extremities, especially for the gluteus and IT band will also help transition you into early season form. Remember, any changes to your bike geometry or training plan, should be done in small increments to allow your body to adapt to the new settings.
Good luck for injury free riding.
Chad Asplund, MD
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Dr. Asplund is a family physician and avid competitive cyclist who treats sports related injuries in the Washington, DC area. Send your cycling injury and health-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Asplund will answer selected questions in future articles.