Recently I found a great list of tips for taking care of aching knees in Rene Wenzel’s book Bike Racing 101. First of all, the book is great, and filled with tips and useful information for anyone who wants to race or understand bike racing more. I fall into both of those categories, and a third one, which is taking care of people who ride bikes. Drum roll………..
1. Wear leg warmers or tights when the temperature is below 75 degrees. (My comment: Most people will don tights when it’s much colder than this, raining, or snowing. The knee is constantly exposed to the wind and is constantly having heat sapped away from it. This can cause muscles to tighten up and create compression and stress in the knee joint.)
2. Get your bike properly fitted by a professional. Position on the bike can change muscle activation patterns and wear and tear on joints and soft tissue. (My comment: Due to the high repetition involved with cycling ..pedaling 90rpm for a 1 hour ride can result in 54,000 pedalstrokes… small errors in fitting can lead to mechanical stress over a short period of time.)
3. Use a good quality stiff-soled cycling shoe. Experiment with float in the pedal for increased comfort. (My comment: A great deal of stress can be taken off the knees by improving the efficiency of energy transfer… cycling shoes accomplish this by limiting wasted energy going into bending a shoe.)
4. Get orthotics fit to your feet or use a stock model from a store for arch support if you have flat feet. (My Comment: I often recommend that someone try superfeet or another stock orthotic that can be purchased at a running/sports store or podiatry office. Pronated feet cause excessive wear and tear on the underside of the kneecap.)
5. Learn to spin. Pushing against big gears can lead to excessive stress on the knees. (My Comment: True enough. If I had one thing to change about my cycling skills as a kid, it would be to spin rather than push heavy gears. Who knew I was going to get older?)
6. Train consistently. Corralling all of your training to one or two days a week or taking time off the bike creates large gaps of training stress on the body, and it’s easy to over do it when you get back on the bike again. (My comment: If your weekend rides turn into races and that’s the only time you get to ride, your body could be missing out on valuable adaptation time that it needs by having lighter sessions of training on a more consistent basis.)