Relative to many sports, cycling is generally good for the knees, but nonetheless, many riders still experience knee pain at some point in their cycling career. Most such knee pain can be attributed to one of three causes: 1) too abruptly ramping up your training or chronic overtraining; 2) changing your equipment or position; and 3) your own anatomy and your body’s biomechanics.
In a properly functioning knee, the kneecap or patella tracks along a groove in the distal end of the femur or thigh bone. The patellar tendon connects powerful leg muscles to the patella. When the muscles around the knee are imbalanced – too weak or too strong or some combination thereof, they pull the patella off track or compromise how well it glides. It can lead to issues such as patellofemoral syndrome and patellar tendonitis. Likewise simple trauma to the knee, such an impact during a crash, can cause pain and inflammation.
If your knee pain is due to inflammation, try icing your knee two to three times per day to reduce swelling over time. Sometimes consistent icing is all it takes to make your knee happy again. Apply ice immediately after exercise and in between rides as needed
Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Oral anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin will often reduce knee pain caused by inflammation. But beware if your knee pain is due to a chronic issue. Medication will not help you fix most causes of knee pain; it will simply mask its symptoms.
Give it a Rest
While your knees are not subjected to much weight bearing during your rides, they do experience many cycles of bending and unbending, which add up over time. If you ramp up your training hours or efforts too quickly, you’ll be more susceptible to overtraining-type overuse injuries, so take your time and build up your time and distance on a bike gradually so that your body has time to adapt physiologically. Doing too much too soon might result in you having to take some time completely off the bike so your knee can recover.
Check Your Cleat Alignment
Poorly positioned cleats are a frequent culprit of knee pain. If you’ve recently changed shoes, cleats or pedals, and your knees suddenly start hurting, revisit those changes as the likely source of the problem.
Common alignment issues include having your cleats rotated too far in either direction, which you’ll experience as your heel being relatively too close or too far from your crank arm. This kind of knee pain often manifests on the lateral or medial sides of your knee.
Having your cleat too far forward or backward on your shoe is another common cause of knee pain. It will often lead to pedalling too flat footed or with your toes pointed too much downward. A rule of thumb that works for many is to align your cleat so that the axle of your pedal appears to be “under” the base of the joints between your mid-foot and toes when you look down at your foot while your leg is fully extended during the pedal stroke.
Ask a Coach for Input About Your Gearing
Pushing gears that are too big puts significant strain on the knees, especially for cyclists who are not used to doing so. Consider dropping to easier gears and spinning more; pedalling a lighter gear at a faster cadence will still produce the same amount of power but require less torque through the knee joint.
Try ROTOR’s Q-Rings
ROTOR’s Q-Rings improve your performance, minimize fatigue and reduce stress on the knees. They virtually decrease the gear ratio in the dead spot and increase the gear ratio in the power phase where the rider exerts the most force. The ability to pick from five different Optimum Chainring Positions (OCP) gives you the option to find the best setup for your knees.
Become More Flexible
Tight muscles sometimes are the cause of knee pain. Sometimes the quadriceps are too tight; sometimes it’s the hamstrings or calves. All of these muscles attach near or cross your knee joint and can affect how well your knee tracks. In addition, too-tight glutes, groin muscles and IT bands may alter the proper tracking of your knees.
If you’re prone to tight hamstrings, calves or quads, start a regular stretching program. One of the best ways to gain flexibility is to adopt a regular yoga practice: find a class near you or try out some videos online.
Get a Bike Fit
Saddle too high, too low, too far forward or too far backward relative to your bottom bracket? All four situations can cause knee pain – typically in the front or back of your knee. It’s difficult to evaluate your own position on your bike since you can’t see yourself, so if you’re struggling with knee pain and the above suggestions haven’t worked, hire a bike fitter to check your position.
ROTOR is delighted to announce we will become the title sponsor of the WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling team for the 2018 season supplying all cycling components for this elite group of professional women cyclists.
ROTOR has been closely involved with the team since its foundation in 2014 and the unique partnership means WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling will be the only UCI registered team equipped with UNO, the first complete road groupset with hydraulic-actuated shifting and braking.
The UNO groupset will be mounted on the Orbea Orca OMR road bike with 2INpower power meter, Q RINGS and the innovative ROTOR RVOLVER® hubs which are all CNC machined using WNT cutting tools at ROTOR’s manufacturing facilities in Madrid.
With the new season fast approaching, WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling will become a test and development team for ROTOR products, who will be taking on the highest level of UCI racing throughout Europe.
ROTOR CEO, Jose Manuel Banqueri, commented “We’re extremely proud to be associated with WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling team. They are pioneers in women’s professional cycling and we look forward to working together in both product development and competition in the coming season.”
Claude Sun, World MD of WNT-Ceratizit and team manager of WNT-ROTOR Pro Cycling added “It is the next logical evolution between ROTOR and WNT in our concept in investing in Women’s cycling with a pro cycling team. Together we hope to make 2018 our most successful year as a Pro Cycling team and continue to improve both ROTOR products and our riders.”
Riders for 2018: Anna Badegruber, Lydia Boylan, Natalie Grinczer, Hayley Jones, Melissa Lowther, Elise Maes, Eileen Roe, Hayley Simmonds, Aafke Soet and Lea Lin Teutenberg.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that you have to stop training and go stir crazy. While winter weather may prevent outdoor riding, there are plenty of other ways that you can stay fit, healthy, active and engaged. Variety is good for the body and mind.
Although taking a mental and physical break from riding of all types can be a good idea, if you absolutely have to ride, you can still do so inside. Get a pair of rollers or a trainer, or attend a local spin class. To keep indoor training from becoming monotonous, try a variety of different workouts and intervals and recruit a buddy or several to train indoors with you.
Do Other Sports
Whether or not you are a triathlete, you as a cyclist can benefit from doing other sports such as running or swimming; both will help keep you cardiovascularly fit. As a high impact activity, running also strengthens bones and thus helps prevent osteoporosis while swimming is a gentler way to keep your lungs strong and build upper body strength in a way that cycling doesn’t.
Ball sports can help you improve hand-eye coordination, something many cyclists could work on. Try indoor soccer, volleyball or basketball, for example.
If you live where there is enough snow, go cross country skiing. It’s not an accident that many pro cyclists cross train on skis and vice versa, and you’ll still get to enjoy the outdoors.
Cultivate a Yoga Practice
Cyclists are chronically strong but inflexible, especially in their hip, leg and shoulder muscles. They also frequently have weak cores and complain of low back pain. You can address all of these issues with a regular yoga practice.
You’ll stretch tight muscles and strengthen weaker ones, often fixing nagging, chronic injuries and preventing new ones. As an added benefit, yoga also will reduce your stress and anxiety and help you relax. The greater awareness and control of breathing which you develop in yoga will only make your mental and physical game stronger.
Go to the Gym
Another way to correct strength imbalances and a weak core is to go to the gym and adopt a strength training program. Don’t just work on making your legs stronger, but focus on your back, core and upper body. Ask a coach or personal trainer if you need specific suggestions about how to work out.
Catch Up on Bike Maintenance
When you’re not riding outside is the perfect time to overhaul your bike. Whether you do so yourself or hire your local bike shop to do so, your bike will work better after a little maintenance.
Clean and regrease bearings and all moving parts. Inspect brake pads for wear and replace as needed. Replace worn out drivetrain components and tires. Mountain bikers can also rebuild their suspension, tune up their dropper posts and bleed their brakes, and cyclists of all types can true their wheels and refresh sealant in their tubeless tires.
Reconnect with Family and Friends
Cycling commitments often take us away from family and friends. Can’t ride outside? It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up with non-cycling friends or focus on your family. Take a little extra time to read books to your kids, or go visit grandma and grandpa.
Pursue Other Hobbies
Indoor training tends to take less time than outdoor training, so even if you’re still riding inside, you’ll probably have some extra time to kill. Why not explore and practice other hobbies you enjoy? Become a better cook, or catch up on your reading list or favorite TV shows. Maybe learn to play an instrument, or pick up a new skill like sewing or woodwork.
Don’t Forget to Relax
There’s nothing wrong with sometimes taking a break from all physical activity and letting your body and mind recover and relax after a long season. Since avid cyclists are often overachievers, so you may need a break even more than you realize. Plus when you get back on the bike after that break, you’ll be fresh and excited about riding again.
Before your next triathlon, make time to plan and practice your transitions. With some strategic preparation and practice, you’ll save time, energy and stress as you switch from swimming to riding and from riding to running. Read on for tips about how to make your transitions easier and faster.
Get to Know Your Transition Areas
Before races, thoroughly survey each transition area. First, figure out where your gear will be, then plan your routes for efficiently getting in and getting out. Better yet, practice those routes so that on race day you don’t have to think about where to go when.
Prep your Gear
Space is limited in a transition area so only bring the gear that you’ll actually use; it reduces clutter as well as the chance of grabbing the “wrong” gear. Think about the order in which you will don gear for each leg of your triathlon. Strategically place items with the furthest away being the ones you’ll need last and the nearest being the ones you’ll need soonest.
For example, set your helmet on your aerobars upside-down and with your sunglass inside because you will first put on your glasses followed by your helmet before grabbing your bike. And instead of putting on your cycling shoes in the transition area, you can clip them into your pedals. Don’t actually slip them on until you have hopped on your bike and are rolling out of the transition area.
Be Efficient in T1: Swim to Bike
Figure out in advance up until what point you will be able to swim and where you will have to start running. Since you’ve already dialed in your route, you can concentrate on starting to strip your goggles and wetsuit on the fly. Have the top of your wetsuit down by the time you get to the swim-bike transition area.
After you get to your gear, remove your goggles, don your sunglasses and helmet and move toward the exit. Know at what point you will hop on your bike, but be flexible in the moment; it may be worth running a little farther to escape transition area congestion.
Keep Your Focus in T2: Bike to Run
Remove your feet from your shoes as you approach the second transition area so that you pedal the last few strokes with your feet on top of your shoes. Know ahead of time if you will have to rack your own bike or can hand it off to a volunteer.
Remove your helmet and set it down so that you can quickly put on your running shoes and cinch lace locks. Then grab your race nutrition, number and hat and start running. You can stash your gels and adjust your number on the fly.
Practice Makes Perfect
While you are tapering for your triathlon is a great time to practice your transition skills. Since you’re no longer putting in the big training hours, you’ll have more time to focus on and improve skills. Set up a mock transition area and practice repeatedly switching between swimming and riding and between riding and running. Measure your progress objectively by timing yourself or ask a friend or coach to time you.
Watch and Learn
Ask others to observe your practice transitions and tell you what they see. Then watch other more experienced triathletes practice their transitions and copy what they do well.
As summer turns into winter, daylight hours shrink, temperatures drop and weather becomes wetter. It gets harder and harder to get outside to ride your bike. Before long, it’s time to dust off your indoor trainer.
Riding inside is a good way to maintain your fitness during the off-season and even work on your weaknesses ahead of next season. Below we share some tips that will help you stick to your indoor training routine.
Tip #1 – Make It Easy to Start
Set up a designated space in which you do your indoor training. If possible, leave your trainer and bike set up between sessions. Take it one step further and have your kit and towels all ready to go, especially if you’re pressed for time to squeeze in your workouts before or after work. It’s all about removing obstacles that might derail your best intentions or serve as excuses not to ride.
Tip #2 – Make It More Comfortable
Indoor training is inherently hot and sweaty, but you can make it more comfortable by turning on one or more fans to blow over you and keep you cooler as you pedal. Also place some towels within easy reach to mop up sweat as needed.
Be sure that you’ve got your bike set up properly – you may need to put a prop under the front wheel so that your bike stays level and you’re not angled downward and thus putting too much pressure on your hands and wrists. A rubber mat under your bike and trainer can keep the trainer from slipping, protect your floors from dripping sweat and shield downstairs neighbors from the noise that some trainers produce.
Tip #3 – Stay Hydrated
Because indoor training can be so sweaty, you may lose significant fluids during any given workout. Fill your water bottle before your session and put it in your bike’s cage so that you can drink as you ride. If you’re still thirsty afterward, continue to drink until you feel replenished – just like you would after any outdoor ride.
Tip #4 – Keep It Short, Sweet and Diverse
Burnout is a real problem that comes along with regular indoor training. Rather than pedalling mind-numbing hours inside and without purpose, start each session with a clear plan. Keep it to between 30 and 60 minutes in total. Switch out trainer workouts so that you’re not doing the same thing every time.
Not sure what to do on your trainer? Try some of these workouts [link to https://www.bicycling.com/training/fitness/how-ride-inside-indoor-trainer-workouts-cyclists or link to a similar article with specific workouts in Spanish], or hire a coach who can help you work on your weaknesses and keep your indoor training fresh and interesting.
Tip #5 – Share the Pain
Why suffer alone when you can share the pain with others? Recruit a friend to join you, participate in trainer night at your local bike shop, or sign up for a local spin class. Just like riding a bike outside, riding a bike inside is more fun with company. Plus, if you’ve told someone that you will be somewhere to ride at a certain time, you are much more likely to actually do it.
Tip #6 – Get Inspired
Maybe training with others isn’t an option? That means you’ll have to find your own inspiration. Try doing your workouts while pedaling to your favorite music, streaming some fun shows or watching some pro race footage as you pedal.
Tip #7 – Mix It Up
Indoor trainers are great for prescribed cycling intervals and workouts, but it’s also a good idea to mix up your indoor training time by varying your indoor activities. For example, sometimes ride your rollers instead of your trainer. They will help you improve your balance and bike handling skills.
Or take your workout off the bike altogether: go to a yoga class, do a gym workout or participate in other indoor sports. The more variety you have in your indoor workouts, the more likely they are to remain interesting over time.