How to Bicycle with Knee Pain

How to Bicycle with Knee Pain
Cycling is often cited as a low-impact alternative to bone-jarring sports, but cyclists are no strangers to knee pain. The structural stresses and somewhat unnatural movements required to ride a bike can cause injury in a variety of ways. Luckily, most sources of knee pain can be easily adjusted, and if you tend toward stiff knees on your bike, try to locate one of these sources to alleviate your pain.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bicycle
Step 1
Adjust your seat height to maximize power transfer to your pedals while allowing your supporting muscles to properly stabilize your knees. For pain at the front of your knee just below the patella (kneecap), raise your saddle a few millimeters. For pain in the tendons behind your knee, lower the saddle.
Step 2
Adjust your bike's plumb line, or the angle between your knee and the pedal axle when your pedal arm is at the front of its stroke and parallel to the ground. Ideally you should be able to drop a plumb line from the tip of your kneecap straight to the axle. Move your saddle forward or backward to correct the problem.
Step 3
Keep a disciplined stretching schedule as part of your regular workout routine. Tight muscles can cause poor riding form and lead to injury.
Step 4
Exercise the supporting muscles in your legs in between rides. Use simple, unweighted lunges, single-leg squats and plyometric movements to build hip flexor strength. Focus on keeping your knee from moving inward during squats, and keep strict form in every exercise.
Step 5
Consider using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, like naproxen sodium or ibuprofin, for short periods. These drugs reduce pain and swelling around injured tissues and may help you keep riding as you make more permanent adjustments.

Tips & Warnings

Many riders have uneven legs due to posture or genetic oddities. If one of your legs is longer than another, you may have to strike a very narrow balance in your bike fit to avoid irritating either leg.
Follow all manufacturer's instructions when beginning a medication regimen.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.