Hitting the singletrack on two knobby tires is a passion mountain bikers share. Making sure the ride is not derailed by unwanted knee pain only takes a little knowledge and some preventative measures.
Iliotibial Tissue and Knee Pain
Mountain bikers who suffer knee pain are typically afflicted with inflammation of the illiotibial tissue, or “band.” This fibrous tissue runs between the knee and hip. With the piston-like up and down of cycling, this tissue becomes swollen and tender. Doing ITB stretches before and after bicycling will reduce knee pain and swelling.
Proper Bicycle Fit
Another cause of ITB swelling is improper bicycle fit. Having a professional at a bicycle shop fit you to your bike is a sure way of reducing or preventing knee pain. Have the shop pro check seat height, frame size and stem length.
When checking knee pain against seat height, if the pain is behind the knee, the seat is too high. Pain in the patella, or knee cap, indicates a seat that is too low. Make micro adjustments and have the shop pro assess your position on the bike.
Chondromalacia is another common knee affliction for mountain bikers. The pressure under the knee cartilage can be a source of pain for the knee. Do leg-straightening exercises, and try to keep your leg and knee straight to the ankle when cycling to avoid chondromalacia.
Post-ride, one of the best preventative measures to avoid future knee pain episodes is to use RICE on the knee. Standing for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, using all four techniques on the sore knee can help to reduce and prevent knee pain.