Save Those Knees – 6 Tips for Senior Cycling
Not only is bicycling incredibly fun, but, it is generally very safe and easy on the body as well. It offers the best of both worlds by being low impact and highly aerobic. In other words, it gets your heart rate up but doesn’t wear down your body.
Unlike sports such as jogging or basketball, you’re in no danger of running into another person and your legs never uncomfortably bang into the ground. Instead, they’re moving in low stress, low impact circles.
But, even the safest activities can have the occasional risk, especially for less experienced athletes who may not be adhering to proper form.
One complaint that we’ve heard from some of our older friends is that, after a long ride, their knees hurt. This is because they are making a few avoidable mistakes. The good news is that, if you follow these 6 steps, you can knock out knee pain for good!
Keep Those Knees Straight
As you pedal, make sure you do so in perfectly concentric circles, keeping your knees straight. Any movement or wobbling to the side – either outwards or inwards – increases stress on your cartilage and knee cap as they rub together, which can lead to serious discomfort.
This is extremely important as knee cartilage can be easily inflamed in older bodies, especially some suffering from mild osteoarthritis. So, keep on pedaling as straight and circular as possible.
Keep Your Speed Up as Much as Is Comfortable
It’s vital to keep up a decent speed as you ride, so that you can maintain a fluid motion as you pump your legs and knees. Experts say that pedaling under 60 revolutions per minute is potentially dangerous. In fact, they actually recommend you try to keep above 80 revolutions per minute.
While this may sound scary to an inexperienced rider, it’s actually very simple when you’re using your bike properly. The trick to maintaining this speed to your leg motion is to make sure you are in a proper gear. This will help to ensure that you don’t go faster than is comfortable for you.
Or, if you’re finding it hard to keep your pedaling at a recommended pace, consider the mechanical assistance of an electric bicycle.
Watch Your “Float”
This advice applies more to cyclists who use clip-in pedals, but, it can make a huge difference: make sure the “float” of your foot position corresponds with the natural angle your feet and ankles tend towards.
Angling your legs too sharply can radiate tension through your entire legs, and can sharply increase the pressure on your knees. For the best results, keep your float to under 4.5 degrees.
Keep Your Seat Back
Here’s one more thing that you might not think can impact your knees, but most certainly does: the position of your feet and the position of your “seat.”
If you sit too close to your handlebars, it can change the angles your knees have to be at. This can lead to some serious discomfort.
So move your bum further back, keep your feet planted properly on the pedals and watch the pain glide away.
For Long Rides, Consider Kinesio Tape
If you’re planning a particularly long ride, or find that you have extra sensitive knees, we recommend looking into kinesio, also known as elastic therapeutic, tape. It clings to your joints and muscles, pushing your knees in proper alignment.
Unlike the old-school athletic tape you may be more familiar with, it mimics your skin, allowing for a much greater degree of flexibility and movement. It is also clinically shown to reduce pain.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
This one comes down to your mentality. Just don’t push yourself too hard!
Some people, when feeling a bit of pain in a body part, think they can just “push through the pain.” That may work for something like a headache, but, when it comes to something as important as your knees, it’s not worth the risk.
Something that might just be a minor nuisance today could flare up into a serious tear or worse, if you keep riding on it. So, if you’re feeling a serious ouch, take a little time off from riding, or consider switching your ebike to all-electric mode.
Do you have any preferred tips or advice for dealing with pain when you bike? Let us know your favorite methods in the comments below!
Jonah is the Community Advisor at EVELO Electric Bicycles. Jonah is passionate about people, transportation, cities, and writing about the data that connects those disparate worlds. Thinking about an electric bike? Try one risk-free with EVELO’s “Love at First Ride” guarantee.