How Do I... Keep my knees healthy?
Knee problems are a close second to backache when it comes to cyclists’ aches and pains. Follow the tips below to avoid becoming a statistic.
1. Cleat alignment — everyone’s cycling position is unique, so online or training manual advice is an inexact science. Consult a coach, cycling-knowledgeable podiatrist or bike shop that uses professional cleat alignment tools.
2. Saddle height — another tricky one to gauge, but absolutely crucial. The old-school method of placing your heel on the pedal, with a slightly bent knee, gets close but does not take into account foot size, cleat position or thickness of shoe sole. A specialist bike shop should be able to help.
3. Ease in — Before getting stuck into a training session, make sure you warm up. Knees, like any other part of the body, need warming to be eased in, so spin gently for at least 15 minutes to get the blood flowing before upping the pace. Some light stretching before you leave will also help improve leg flexibility.
4. Keep warm — dress for the conditions and pay special attention to the legs. Knees are susceptible to the cold, so cover up with decent thermal tights and leave the shorts at home until spring.
5. Spin smoothly — keep the gears low (especially in winter), and focus on a smooth pedalling action. Increase the training and gearing steadily over the coming months and avoid sudden jumps in your workload.
How Do I... Look after my back?