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Carolinas HealthCare System
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Dealing with Pain from Cycling

Cycling may be “lower impact” than some other endurance sports, but like any other activity, repetitively making the same motions can wear down your joints and muscles over time. Here are some common cycling ailments and what you can do to get back on the bike as soon as possible.

What type of pain are you experiencing?

Anterior (Front) Knee Pain
Possible causes:

  • Saddle that is too low
  • Too low of a cadence (speed)
  • Using your quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling
  • Misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals
  • Muscle imbalance in your legs (strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings)

Neck Pain
Possible causes:

  • Poor handlebar or saddle position. (A poorly placed handlebar might be too low, at too great a reach, or at too short a reach. A saddle with excessive downward tilt can be a source of neck pain.)

Lower Back Pain
Possible causes:

  • Inflexible hamstrings
  • Low cadence
  • Using your quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling
  • Poor back strength
  • Too-long or too-low handlebars

Hamstring Tendinitis
Possible causes:

  • Inflexible hamstrings
  • High saddle
  • Misaligned bicycle cleat
  • Poor hamstring strength

Hand Numbness or Pain
Possible causes:

  • Short-reach handlebars
  • Poorly placed brake levers
  • Downward tilt of the saddle

Foot Numbness or Pain
Possible causes:

  • Using your quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling
  • Low cadence
  • Faulty foot mechanics
  • Misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals

IT Band Syndrome
Possible causes:

  • Too-high saddle
  • Leg length difference
  • Misaligned bicycle cleats for riders who use clipless pedals

What are my physical therapy options?

The physical therapists at Carolinas Rehabilitation can recommend the best exercises and treatment for your situation. The following are common treatments for pain associated with cycling:

  • Pain control treatment
  • Taping techniques
  • Exercise program for muscle imbalances
  • Assessment of and improvements of body mechanics while cycling

Do you have pain related to cycling? Our experts at can help. To schedule an appointment with Sports Medicine & Injury Care today call 704-863-HURT or visit our website.