Knee pain while cycling



KNEE PAIN IN CYCLING : How to strengthen the back muscles of the thigh to avoid injury

Strong hamstrings will allow you to pedal more efficiently while running and reduce the risk of injury.

Common forms of cycling pain, such as back pain, are often due to weakness in the posterior thigh muscles. Therefore, strength training for cycling should target these often neglected muscles.

The muscles used during cycling are mainly the quadriceps at the front of the thigh and the hamstrings at the back of the thigh. They can be underdeveloped, leading to muscle imbalances, a common cause of knee pain when cycling.



Although this article is more about stretching and strengthening the back muscles of the thigh, we also recommend foam rolling exercises to stretch tight muscles and core training to make the back stronger for long rides.

When it comes to positioning yourself on a road bike, it is very important to know how to choose the right saddle height. A saddle that is too high can put undue stress on the muscles at the back of the thigh.

What are your posterior thigh muscles?

Posterior thigh muscles is a collective term that is often used to refer to the posterior muscles of the thigh.

They consist of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris, a series of muscles that encircle the thigh, crossing the thigh and knee.

The muscles begin just below the buttocks, where they attach to the lower thigh and connect to the upper part of the lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula). The posterior thigh muscles flex the knee and straighten the hip.

How do the posterior thigh muscles work when pedaling?

When you lift your leg in the lower part of pedaling, the muscles at the back of the thigh are the most stressed.

But because pedaling does not fully extend the hip, cyclists can injure the muscles in the back of the thigh over time.

Why do the posterior thigh muscles hurt when pedaling?

Riding a bicycle for long periods, especially when you are very tired, can increase the risk of developing a hamstring strain, which usually occurs at the junction of a muscle with a tendon (myotendinous junction).

The risk of injury also increases when the posterior thigh muscles become fatigued by pedaling in low gear and/or maintaining a low cadence.

How to get rid of hamstring pain during cycling?

Doing a series of exercises for the posterior thigh muscles 2-3 times a week can improve pedaling and reduce the chance of muscle pulls or tears.

It is also helpful to stretch the hamstrings after pedaling, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds while taking a deep breath.

Hamstring stretching for cyclists

  1. Knee pain in cycling on the box
    Lie on your back and raise your legs about 45 degrees, then bend one leg to rest your feet on a box 30-40 cm high.

    Gently lift your hips, keeping your abs tight and pushing your heel into the box.
    Raise the hips until a straight line is formed between the knee, hip and shoulder. Hold this position for 2 seconds and repeat 10-12 times. Don't forget the other leg as well: do the same.2. Position of the upside-down dog
    Downward dog pose relieves tension in the spine, hips, and hind thigh muscles.

Stand on all fours and put your hands in front of your shoulders. Stretch your toes forward.

Exhale, then, pulling in your toes, lift your knees, straighten your legs and lift your buttocks. At the same time, move to a standing position and try pressing your heels into the ground.
Press down on the shoulders and push back on the buttocks to feel the lengthening of the back and rear thigh muscles.

Hold the position for 10 seconds, then repeat several times.


  1. Abdominal/thigh stretch
    Although this movement is called stretching, it tests your stability and balance.

Stand on one knee, then extend the other leg in front of you, gradually lowering your heel to the floor.

Be careful not to twist your hips or turn toward your outstretched leg. This exercise relaxes the hamstrings and hip flexors, another area where cyclists tend to lack tension.

  1. Exercise with a towel

Lie on your back and keep one leg stretched out along the door.
Bring your other leg behind your knee and, keeping it straight as long as you feel comfortable, pull your knee toward your head.

A towel around the leg will help create more tension in the muscle and stretch the Achilles.

  1. Sitting and stretching

Sit up straight and extend both legs in front of you. Lean forward from the hips.
Keep your legs as far apart as possible with your fingertips or feet.
If you are a flexible person, you can increase the difficulty of the exercise by taking a towel.
Try to keep your chest high to better stretch your leg muscles.

Strengthening the posterior thigh muscles for cyclists

  • Hamstring crunches

Hamstring crunches can be performed with a band, leg weights or on a leg extension machine.

To perform a weight variation or free band, lie on your back with your legs straight behind you.
Raise your legs all the way up, linger briefly, then slowly lower them to the floor.
Add weight or resistance (with tape) if you don't feel the back thigh muscles are contracting.

Repeat 12-15 times and complete 2-3 sets. Hamstring crunches can be performed on one leg or both at the same time.

  • Gluteus bridge with ball

The gluteal bridge also strengthens the back muscles of the thigh, especially if you use an exercise ball.
To perform this exercise, lie on your back, straighten your legs, and your feet should be on the ball.

Raise your hips and pull your legs (always on the ball) toward you.

Hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly lower your hips and straighten your legs, moving the ball away from you.

Since this is a heavy exercise, perform 5-6 repetitions and 2-3 sets.

  • Squat

Squats and all variations of this exercise work the posterior thigh muscles in a completely different way than how we use this muscle group on a bicycle.

The technique for performing most squats is to start with the feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
Lower your weight down and back, bending your knees but making sure they stay in line with your feet.
It is important that the back remains straight and the heels do not come off the floor.
Getting low enough is advantageous for cyclists as it mimics the flexion of the legs when pedaling.

Straighten legs and return to starting position, then perform 2-3 sets of 10-15-20 repetitions each.

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