The Why’s And How’s Of Cyclist’s Knee

Out of all the sports, cycling and swimming seem to cause the fewest amount of injuries. On the other hand, running seems to cause every injury known to man. Although running bears the brunt of injury criticism, cycling can cause injury too; one injury in particular is in fact shared with runners. The injury most commonly referred to as runner’s knee has another name which is goes by: cyclist’s knee.

The “Catch-All” Injury

Okay, so technically there’s not just one injury that can be called cyclist’s knee. The term cyclist’s knee actually refers to multiple repetitive and overuse injuries. The two most common of these overuse conditions among cyclists are iliotibial band friction syndrome and pes anserinus tendinitis or bursitis.

Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome

The iliotibial band (IT band) friction syndrome is an overuse condition that commonly occurs in cyclists that have genu varum and pronated feet. Genu varum is when your knees are bowed outwards – or bow legged – and pronated feet are when the arches of your feetcollapseor rest flat on the ground. These really only become a problem because of the repetitive movement which causes an irritation at the IT band’s insertion and at the point of friction. This painful point will be on the front and outer surface of the lower leg, just below the knee.

How do you get rid of it? Your treatment should include stretching the IT band and trying to reduce the inflammation by icing at the point of irritation.

Pes Anserinus Tenditis/Bursitis

The pes anserinus is the place where 3 muscles (sartorius, gracilis, and semitendinosus) attach to your tibia – the shin bone. This attachment point is just below your knee on the front and slightly inside. Associated with the tendinitis is a bursitis, where the bursa that is supposed to help prevent friction gets inflamed as well. This can happen to anyone but is most common in people with genu valgum (or knock knees – it’s the opposite of genu varum) or a weak vastus medialis muscle which is located on the inside of your thigh. This overuse injury is commonly produced from runners that run on a slope with one leg higher than the other.

How do you get rid of pes anserinus tendinitis? As with iliotibial band friction syndrome you will want to ice the point of irritation as well as stretch your quad and inner thigh muscles while strengthening your vastus medialis.

How To Manage Your Injury

The only way to ensure a full recovery from your injury is by correcting the foot and leg alignment problems of genu varum, genu valgum, and pronated feet. Once you correct these problems then you will greatly decrease your risk for a repeat of the injury. Therapy for both injuries should include ice packs or ice massage both before and after activity, proper warm-up and stretching, and avoiding any activities that aggravate the problem. Although the last part of that treatment plan may be the hardest, it is also very important because aggravating the injury will only lengthen your recovery time. Your rehabilitation may also includeanti-inflammatorymedications or orthotics for your shoes to help reduce the leg conditions.

Keeping your body injury-free requires constant care and proper strength. If you’re focusing on gaining strength to either improve performace or decrease your injuries, here’s a great review you should read on the Body Solid Smith machine.

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