A few years back and a couple of years after my knee surgery (cartilage tear and ACL replacement) I went on a cross country bicycle trip. It was about a 2700 mile trip and lasted about 2 months. Many people I spoke with at the time said cycling was a really good thing to do coming back from a knee injury/surgery. At that time, it was about 2 years after I had knee surgery and I was still struggling with all sorts of issues related to the knee.
- The Knee would just sweat on its own (the rest of me would be dry)
- The knee would still feel stiff
- Tension in my hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders
- Not to mention the knee pain I was still having
The reason why I was told cycling would be good exercise for my knee was due to the fact that it was a controlled range of motion and if I got “toe clips” or “clip less pedals.” Toe clips (to a lesser degree) and clip less pedals (to a greater degree) keep your foot “tight” to the pedal allowing you to pull up with one leg while the other leg is pushing down creating a smooth circular motion with the pedals. I would not only be working the knee in the front, I would also be working on strengthening the back of the knee as well which provides tremendous all around support for your knees.
So I bought a nice cross country bike (A Trek 520) and began riding. Riding a bicycle with a full load (70 or so lbs.) is quite different from riding with no load on the bike.
**This next point is the essence of the entire post and how you can benefit most from cycling to get over your knee pain or strengthening your knees.
It is crucial that you keep your revolutions per minute (RPM) up between 80 – 100 whether you are riding with a full load or not. Why is this so important you might ask?
Well the reason is quite clear after you are riding long distances day after day. I found out that I would get this terrible pain in the front of my knee below my knee cap. The harder and heavier I pushed the more they hurt.
Think of it like shoveling dirt. Every time you take a scoop you have to lift the weight. If you took a full shovel load it would weight maybe 25 to 30 lbs, now shovel that over and over day in and day out. The first few days are going to be very difficult and you might not even be able to make it. However, it you now took only a 5 lb shovel full. How long do you think you would be able to do that day after day? Let me tell you it is a lot easier and you can keep it up for a much longer period of time.
The point is when you keep your RPMs up between 80 to 100 it is like you have only 5 lbs on your shovel. You can ride for long distances and your knees will become stronger as a result with less fatigue and recovery time.
Knowing your knees is important and the big thing here is not to over do it with your knees. If they begin to hurt more while you are cycling it is time to back off and take some time to rest. Knowing your knees is
essential and when to push them a little harder and when to back off.
So try a little bit of cycling and let me know how it goes. Remember the more questions you ask the more you are going to understand about what is going on with your knees and the knee pain you are feeling.
Let me know if you have any questions by sending them to Bill@TheKneePainGuru.com or just post a comment below.
(The Knee Pain Guru)