Does cycling exacerbate worn-out knees?

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by 4(T), Jul 22, 2009.

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  1. My knees are slowing developing a sort of dull jarring pain when I walk. Haven't had it looked at yet - local NHS is glacially sloooow on that sort of thing - but I suspect its the end result of many years of tabbing & parachuting, and that my cartilage is possibly wearing thin.

    If it is wear-and-tear, then I'll probably have to give up running in favour of some other form of aerobic exercise with less impact. Love swimming, but the local pools are filthy, overcrowded and expensive.

    So - cycling. Not intending to squeeze my gut into lycra and start knocking out speed trials or anything; more like riding my cheap road bike to the local town & back.

    Q: is there any data out there - or are any arrsers here experienced sport physios - that quantifies the difference in knee wear rate between running and cycling? Is cycling MUCH more benign, or is it merely slightly less damaging than running?

    Thx for any sensible answers.....
  2. Cycling is OK.
  3. Cycling is much more easy on the knees though your setup on the bike has to be correct. There are loads of sites on the internet that show you how to setup the bike correctly or a good bike shop can do it for you for around £35.00 or so. Setup is very important to stave off injuries and to get the most out of the bike and yourself.
  4. Hugely less damaging than running - as long as your bike is set up properly (saddle height, pedal cleat position etc)

    edit: Pah, beaten by the sky borne warrior!
  5. give glucosamine sulphate a go too, it apparently increases the amount of synovial fluid in your joints (extra lube fnar fnar).
    On the NHS thing, demand the 18 week pathway! No excuse for being slow. If your local hospital can't see you quickly, your GP should be able to find out which orthopod/rheumatologist has the shortest waiting times and use Choose and Book. At the very least your GP can get an initial xray sorted quickly to get a definite diagnosis of OA and an idea of severity.
  6. Cycling much better for worn out knees - low impact plus good aerobic exercise.Careful for blind motorists though!
  7. Glucosamine chondroitin is better in my opinion. Helped me a lot and worked much better then sulphate though this did also help to a degree.
  8. Fair one, hadn't come across that one! Will have to ring the Olds and get them on it, i can hear my old dad's knees cracking from the bottom of the garden!
  9. Get on your bike mate, my knees are knacked for running but bikeing is fine, after two or three consecutive 80 milers I get the odd twinge but nothing a bit of ibuprophine can't sort.
    It's fun too ;-)
  10. Also advised by physio if you have CP to cycle in lowest gear wherever possible. IE more reps to cover the same ground, will be a lot easier on badly worn knees.
  11. Ok Creulla.
  12. I think most over 40 ex army people suffer from knackered knees, squidgy cartledges mushy patellas and ligaments as floppy as my second wifes suspenders, swimming is the best exercise, cycling is to dangerous here down under, an old australian tradition is adorning your 4 wheel drive with the remnants of cyclists you have run over, but I digress veterans affairs look after old soldiers a lot better than UK ,when I emtgrated in 96 , local doctor looked at my knees , following week I had to brand spinking new artificial ones , 13 years now pain free, if I get the urge to cycle anywhere, just go and jump in the pool till the urge goes away

  13. This is exactly what is required, too many people buy a bike in the wrong size, then set it up badly, there is also the way that you pedal that can damage the knees as well.

    As stated above, check the internet, there are many good guides to how to set up your bike properly, and after a few weeks you get used to the new ride position and find that you will actually go faster and also for longer due to being more efficient.
  14. Okay, cycling can be better for your knees but not necessarily. In fact, cycling can easily damage your knees (and back). So, go and see a physio for advice. However, if it is wear and tear/cartilage damage from running, you're probably right and cycling may be the answer.

    Tip one for reducing cartilage wear and promote healthy regrowth; stop running, completely (it's bad for you). Next, lose weight.

    As suggested above, you need a bike that fits you. Assuming you're average height/build, raise your saddle until your hips rock when you pedal and then lower it gradually until the rocking stops. Adjust the reach until the front hub is directly out of line of sight behind the tops of the handlebars. Jobs a good 'un. Go for a ride, taking your allen keys with you, test and adjust until happy. Generally speaking, the higher the saddle, the better as it reduces knee flex. As somebody cleverer than I once said, 'a cyclist is somewhat flexible and a bike is somewhat adjustable, what you need to do is acheive fit through the former rather than the latter' (or similar).

    Next, I guarantee that you will ride in far too high a gear, everyone does. Note that cycling has got little to do with strength, it is about momentum, the amount of pressure required to properly turn the pedals is surprisingly small. In the case of cycling, energy is kinetic rather than potential. Never use the big ring, that's for riding in a bunch, drafting behind other people and is a sure way to anaerobic lactate hell and knackered knees. On an 18 speed bike, you should be going everywhere in between 15th and 18th gear (little ring, top half of block). Note that my winter training bike does not even have a big ring on it; you only need about 3 gears for undulating terrain and a couple of extra ones for that inevitable climb home. If you can't spin fast enough, slow down, you will get used to it over time and soon be whipping up 110-140 RPM with a Ave HR of 70-80%; aerobic bliss