Knee pain is one of the most common overuse injuries for cyclists. Chondromalacia patella (CP), patellar (PT) and quadriceps (QT) tendinitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) are a few of common knee injuries that often occur because of the constant force exertion through the lower extremities during pedaling.
The knee's extensor mechanism is comprised of the quadriceps muscle, the quadriceps tendon at the top of the patella, the patella and the patellar tendon at the bottom of the patella. This area surrounding the knee joint is easily susceptible to injury in bicycling for a variety of reasons, such as increasing mileage too quickly, a poor bike fit, and muscular imbalances in the legs.
Depending on the cause of your injury and your diagnosis, there are several different options you should attempt for treatment. Let's take a look at common knee pain diagnosis and what you can do to get back on the bike after injury.
Tendonitis/Tendonosis: Many labels are use to describe specific types of tendon injuries or "tendinopathies", including tendinitis, tenosynovitis and tendinosis. "Tendinitis" is used to describe an acute tendon injury, ranging between 0 to 6 weeks. During this time there is an active inflammatory response and increased vascularity, which leads to symptoms of pain, swelling, redness and warmth.
As tendon injuries become more chronic, there's an accumulation of non-inflammatory tendon degeneration and damage, leading to the description of "tendinosis".
Cyclists are susceptible to both types of tendon injury in the quadriceps and patellar tendon. One common reason for the injury results from a seat height that is too low or too far forward.
More: 6 Gross Cycling Injuries