Struggling to exercise with knee pain? Our Laurel physical therapists recommend cycling for a great workout that’s easy on your knees
July 19, 2019
If you have “bad knees” from osteoarthritis, a recent surgery, or some other cause, you might feel as if there’s a barrier between you and exercise. This is completely understandable, as many forms of exercise involve the knees to some capacity, and can therefore lead to pain and discomfort. But do not despair: there are plenty of other options available for individuals with bad knees who’d like to become more physically active. Practically all low-impact activities fall into this category, but our Laurel physical therapists recommend cycling in particular as one of the best exercises for your knees.
Cycling is an intense form of cardiovascular exercise that works out several regions of the body at once while traveling at high speeds. For this reason, it’s considered one of the best forms of physical activity to help individuals maintain proper weight and boost overall health. It has also exploded in popularity in recent years. Whether people are using their bikes to commute to and from work or strictly for exercise, the number of cyclists in the U.S. has grown to nearly 67 million.
Regularly riding a bike will lead to a variety of health benefits for anyone who takes it on, but these benefits apply particularly to those with knee problems. The main reason is that cycling is considered a low-impact activity. These types of activities are less stressful to weight-bearing joints like the knees, hips, and ankles than those that involve lots of running and jumping, which can actually make knee pain worse. Cycling is an excellent low-impact activity for people with knee osteoarthritis and other problems for a number of reasons, including the following:
- It strengthens the muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps), which play a major role in protecting the knees; stronger quadriceps muscles help to better stabilize the knees and improves their ability to absorb shock, which reduces damage and pain
- It’s a form of exercise that reduces rotational torque—or twisting—of the knee joint; this is common in sports like basketball and tennis, and can further strain the knee
- It’s an aerobic activity that’s great for the heart, brain, and blood vessels, and it also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals
- It helps to lubricate the knees, reduces swelling, and alleviates pain
- It keeps the knees move through their regular range of motion
- Added bonus: whether you have bad knees or not, traveling with your bike instead of a car reduces your carbon footprint and is great for the environment
Talk to our Laurel physical therapists before getting on a bike
If you’re dealing with knee pain and are interested in cycling for the first time, talk to our Laurel physical therapists first. We can help you figure out if cycling is right for you, and if so, guide you on which type of bike is best for you and how to use proper form when riding. Contact CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services at 301-776-9443 to schedule an appointment at any of our four clinics in Laurel, Hyattsville, Glenn Dale/Bowie, or Silver Spring, MD, or click here for more information on the benefits of cycling for knee pain.