does riding bikes wear out your knees?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Icey101, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Icey101

    Icey101 Guest

    Jun 22, 2011
    Australia Victoria
    my old man did alot of squash and skiing in his time and had 2 knee replacements at the age of 75

    me, well i ride pushbikes. now i am figuring all that movement of the joint going back and forwards is that going to wear out the thin slippery layer around the bone of the joint?
  2. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I don't know if it's an overall net positive, but in theory it's:

    a) low impact compared to walking, running, jumping, smashing your knees with a hammer, etc.

    b) strengthening the surrounding tissue of the knee, thereby reducing the stress you'd receive when doing other weight bearing tasks or smashing your knees with a hammer.
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I couldn't tell you specifically if it's bad for you, but in my experiences it's definitely a lot nicer on your knee than running.
  4. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    It's mainly a function of age. At some point (~40) your body simply starts losing its ability to quickly repair soft tissue insult. Up to that point you can do what you want and probably get away with it.

    So said two top orthopedists I consulted.

    Bicycling is fine, safe exercise compared to most other stuff (assuming you don't fall off), but you need restraint. If I'm not careful, I definitely feel pain in my old knees at the end of a long ride. If I take it easy, I don't.

    Good luck!
  5. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    it also helps boost testosterone levels in your blood stream. highly recommended before lifting weights. if you're pumping iron and are not pleased with results, hit the stationary!:hyper:
  6. If you get the bike fit right, your knees will be fine. If the bike doesn't fit right and you push too heavy of a gear, your knees will pay.
  7. I've been pretty hard on my left knee over the last 26 years. It started with a skiing accident at 14, then I fell down an icy ramp at 30, and finally in 2007 my foot slipped off a shovel I was standing on while digging a ditch in my backyard (yes, I can be very stupid at times). There were other incidents in between, but those 3 did the most damage. After the shovel incident, I had surgery to trim my shredded meniscus.

    To this day my knee still acts up on occasion, and what aggravates it most is standing for long periods of time at work and gigs, working a hi-hat pedal, high-impact aerobics, walking long distances, and running. However, when I was in grad school I rode my bike every day and it never gave me a problem, even after riding for over an hour at a stretch.

    When I quit riding about 10 years ago, my knee started giving me grief again, and this was even before my last 2 accidents. Then about 9 months ago, I started doing Tae Bo and it has really improved. I can definitely tell that it's weaker than my right knee and likely always will be, but as long as I avoid moves that require jumping or excessive twisting, I feel pretty good. I think that as long as you do something that strengthens the surrounding muscles (which includes biking, according to a former colleague of mine who was an athletic trainer), you'll be okay.
  8. What, pray tell, is a *pushbike*?
    IMO/IME, biking is way easier on the knees- & joints in general- than running.
  9. machine gewehr

    machine gewehr

    Sep 17, 2005

    Exactly, fit is essential! If it doesn't fit, kiss your knees goodbye.

    Also, always go on the right gear. Not too hard, not too soft. If you find yourself struggling pedaling, change to a softer gear.

    Getting SPD pedals may help. But I'm not sure, they're designed to work all the muscles in the legs and don't know if they help reduce stress in the knees.

    I'm developing something in my left knee, it hurts after a 15-20 min walk. 1.5 hours of cycling gives maybe half of that pain.
  10. MadMan118

    MadMan118 Guest

    Jan 10, 2008
    Vallejo, CA
    I myself have a lot of metal and plastic in my right knee. I actually bike more than run, running is too hard on my knee and over time has gotten more painful. I usually bike 45-90 mins every other day with no adverse effects.
  11. ^ This is the correct answer.

    When straddling the bike, you should have about one and a half inches between the top tube of the bike and your junk. On a step-thru model, it doesn't matter.

    For proper seat height, when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke, parallel to the seat tube, your leg should be completely straight if you place your HEEL on the pedal. This should provide a slight bend in your knee in the riding position with the ball of your foot on the pedal. From there, it's just a matter of minor tweaking, if any.
  12. Jim Nazium

    Jim Nazium Supporting Member

    +1 on fitting correctly and not pushing to heard of a gear. Pedaling at 90 - 100 rpm is most efficient, and puts less stress on your knees than grinding slowly in a really hard gear.

    Our bodies don't last forever, and if we make it to 75, chances are we will be having health issues of some sort. Regular, moderate exercise has been shown conclusively to be one of the most valuable things you can do for your health. To me, the benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks.
  13. frankieg


    Jun 24, 2008
    Cleveland, OH
    I've been shopping for a new bike and I was just told this same advice by a pro friend of mine. He also said that when you are sitting on the seat and the pedal is at the top of the stroke that your leg should always end up at more than a 90 degree angle. 90 degrees or less can cause undo stress on the knee joint. Alot of great advice here guys.
  14. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Be careful with clip-in pedals.

    The wrong setup can cause some annoying injuries as your knees have much less room to move.
  15. It sure is.

    SPDs make my bad knee hurt because they are pretty restrictive in terms of lateral and angular float. I recently switched to Time ATACs and so far they seem to be friendlier on the knees, they have more float than SPDs, plus they don't get packed up with mud and refuse to release like SPDs do... :D
  16. Bicycling has been recommended as part of a physical therapy program before for knee injuries, and I would agree that it's a lot nicer to your knees than running due to less impact. If you've got the bread, look at a recumbent bike: a lot easier on the body once you get the hang of them.

  17. Matthijs

    Matthijs Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    Actually recumbent bikes can be even harder on the knees if you don't take care. You can push even harder, because your back is set against the seat. I know of several bike messengers in my city that have suffered from injuries because of this and some messenger services have stopped using recumbent bikes.
  18. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East Guest

    Aug 22, 2011
    That's just the excuse they tell their friends. The real reason they stopped using them is because no self-respecting bike messenger would be caught dead on a 'bent!

  19. Matthijs

    Matthijs Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    lol, that just might be true too. I never heard them complain about all the other injuries they obviously got from riding normal bikes.
  20. I'd guess it was a matter of the wrong fit. You knees make the same repetative motion as you ride. Get it right and you can ride pain free. Get it wrong and you'll be doing that same painful motion over and over.