Stop and evaluate your knee situation—it might be something you can solve alone.
PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANCOIS SCHNELL VIA FLICKR
If you’re a cyclist who’s ever felt the sharp twinge of “Crap, there’s something wrong!” in one or both of your knees, you’re not alone. Knee pain is the most common lower-body problem among us pedal pushers, with as many as 65 percent of us experiencing it, according to one study.
Most knee pain comes from “overdoing it,” as they say. You ride longer and/or harder than you’re in condition to, which strains your connective tissues, making them inflamed and painful. But what about those spontaneous flare-ups of crank-stopping pain? It might feel like they came out of nowhere, but they're usually just the first noticeable symptoms of a long-brewing problem: The culprit is generally improper equipment and/or bike position, says bike-fit specialist Michael Veal of BikeDynamics in Warwickshire, England.
“Many cyclists are forever tinkering with their position, looking for that elusive perfect position,” he says. But what feels just right for a few pedal strokes around the block can end up feeling pretty wrong after 70 miles across the countryside. A good bike fit is essential for preventing most causes of knee pain. But before you head to a bike fitter or medical professional, try a little self-diagnosis. Here’s a guide to help you trace what hurts back to the source.