Physiotherapy Q&A: Why do I have pain at the front of my knee?

With the better weather hopefully now upon us I am keen to increase the amount of outdoors cycling I do, but am a little worried as when I cycle in the gym I occasionally get pain at the front of my knee. Should I be concerned or just push through this discomfort?

It is hard to know whether the discomfort you are feeling at the front of your knees is simple muscle soreness from exercising or something to be concerned about. In general, post-exercise muscle soreness or DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) as it is better known, occurs when you push muscles harder than they have been previously used to and often remains for 48 hours following the exercise. This is nothing to be concerned about and it is your body adapting to the increased training load.

There are a number of causes of pain around the knee. One common cause seen with cycling is technically known as patellofemoral joint pain. If the pain is located around the knee cap it may well be patellofemoral joint pain. 

If you suspect you may be suffering from patellofemoral joint pain or if this does not seem a likely cause of your symptoms, it would be worth seeing a Physiotherapist who can assess your knee before you increase the amount of cycling you do.

A simple thing you could do yourself is to ensure that your bike is set up correctly, as the pain may ease by changing something as simple as your saddle height. For example, if your saddle is not positioned optimally you may be either overstretching or not stretching enough, placing excessive pressure onto your knee cap. British cycling provide a step by step guide to help you set up your bike to gain a neutral riding position. 

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