Biking With Bad Knees
As a locksmith, I spent a lot of time on my knees and today I pay the price. Many times, but particularly in the winter, I have knee pain when I climb stairs or sometimes when I walk. Yet I participate in an annual bicycling event to raise funds and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in which I bike for almost 200 miles. To train for the event, I bike around 1,000 miles in three months. How do I do it?
Dr. Weil, on his web site (see link below) recommends glucosamine and exercise as a treatment for joint pain. I have concentrated on exercise. To combat joint pain of any kind, strengthen the muscles around the joint so that you can ease the pressure with strength. To ease the stress on my knees from cycling and from daily life, I adopted strategies through observation and experiment.
First I observed the positions of the different parts of my leg and foot when I experienced pain. By avoiding those foot and leg relative positions, I was able to avoid pain. I observed that if I climbed stairs with my foot slightly pointed, climbing stairs was not painful. To keep my feet in that position, it is necessary for me to pretty much run up the stairs. Therefore in order for this strategy to work for me, I needed to be in pretty good shape.
To apply this idea to cycling, I observed where in the rotation of the pedal my knee or knees would hurt me. I found that if I kept my ankles loose instead of rigid when accelerating that my ankles absorbed a lot of the pressure for my knees. Pedaling with a relaxed ankle strengthened muscles in my legs that enabled me to ride long distances with little or no pain. Riding long distances, in turn, increased my general fitness making it easier for me to avoid knee pain in daily life.
The key for me to avoiding knee pain was learning to relax. I learned that the more tension I had in my body, the more likely it was that my knees would hurt. For me, the keys to relative freedom from knee pain were observation, stategizing, exercise and relaxation.
Keep Your Knees Inside
To avoid damaging your knees while cycling, try to remain seated as much as you can and keep your knees inside. That is, when each knee rises to the top of the rotation of the crank, it should almost brush the top tube. If your knees are tilting outward you are placing possibly harmful lateral stress on the joint.
- DrWeil.com - Official Website of Andrew Weil, M.D.
The premiere resource for timely, trustworthy information on natural health and wellness, based on the insights of Andrew Weil, M.D.