Cycling Knee Injuries

cyclists knee

For anyone who has been cycling for any length of time, the chances are they may have experienced a cycling knee injury of some sort. Usually they are temporary and can resolved with rest, others may need specialized attention from a health professional.

The common areas that knee injuries fall into are,

Anatomical causes.

Knee diagram-fr ACL PCL

Knee ligaments

These are due to physical variations in your body affecting the way you cycle. Variation in the length of you legs can cause iliotibial band stretch on shorter leg and posterior knee stress.

Leg inflexibility can cause iliotibial band syndrome,  of the feet can cause medial knee strain

Muscle weakness of quadriceps, hamstrings,hip flexors, gluteus can result in fatigue during pedaling hence stress on a number of muscles.

Some people have a particularly wide pelvis that can cause medial knee pain.

Rotation of the tibia can cause the patella to be misaligned.


  Bike and Gear fit

The correct position of your saddle is important to prevent some types of knee in jury. If the saddle position is too high it causes knee extension, that irritates the iliotibial band, stress on biceps tendon, patellofemoral loading, the hips are stressed by rocking while pedaling, causing posterior knee pain.

If the saddle is too low it can cause stress on patellar and quadriceps tendons

Saddle too far forward causes anterior knee pain due to knee hyperextention while having it too far back can cause iliotibial band stretch.

If your cleat positioning is  wrong this can affect your knees.

Training  and Riding

Knee injuries from training or riding are due to the physical effects of riding for lengthy periods .Riding in too high a gear can cause medial knee stress while excessive hill work can cause cartilage problems.

Increase your distance too quickly or riding excessively hard suddenly can cause muscle damage and fatigue.

These injuries  usually result from overuse. Continued activity can produce degenerative changes that lead to weakness,  and chronic pain. With overuse injuries, the problem is usually chronic degeneration. Pain in overuse injuries typically has a gradual onset. Overuse injuries most likely occur when a cyclist changes the mode, intensity, or duration of their training. Check out some of our training plans


Cycling knee injuries can be the result of overuse from excessive training or riding, can result from physical peculiarities of the rider or from gear or bike fit problems. Overuse problems can usually be resolved with rest. Gear and bike problems may require the services of someone experienced. A visit to a qualified sports medical professional is a good idea if the problem doesn’t resolve quickly.


  1. AnnieLouisa

    Hi I never realised how critical the right saddle height is for knee health. Cycling knee injuries seem to be quite common and I am surprised I haven’t had an injury, considering that I have paid little attention to saddle height in the past. I will take more care now. Thanks for this interesting post.

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hello Annie,
      Most inexperienced cyclists tend to have their saddle height too low. Its probably the most important thing to get correct to prevent injuries and pain that can develop from extended periods on the bike.


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