Is Cycling Better For Your Knees Than Running

Engaging in workouts that improve your overall endurance with activities like running, cycling, and even brisk walking is vital to stay fit and healthy and keeping those extra pounds in check. But excess body weight puts immense pressure on the knees and these exercises can potentially damage the knee joints. If you understand the relationship between knee dysfunction, overall body weight, and the different modes of workout regimens, one can make an effective decision and plan their exercise routine accordingly and also stay motivated to keep their weight in check. To know is cycling better for your knees than running; go through the following piece of read.

How Does Excess Body Weight Affect The Knees?

Whether or not an individual has more than ideal weight, the knee joints soak in a lot of pressure from the upper half of the body. From regular activities like climbing stairs and walking, to participating in sports and exercise classes, the knees are subjected to immense wear and tear. Excess weight can trigger a variety of chronic knee problems. A study was conducted in 2013, which reviewed knee images from 170 patients and detected subcutaneous knee fat, a marker for obesity, to correlate with the incidence of chondromalacia patellae, a condition in which softening of knee cartilage causes the kneecap to rub against the lower end of the thigh bone. In advanced cases, cartilage can get completely worn away to the bone.

Four important ligaments which function by holding the knees in place with the help of muscles and tendons meet at the knee. Damage to these ligaments causes knee instability, which outs an individual at risk for serious injuries. Ligaments at times can be damaged due to trauma like an accident or a fall, injuries are commonly caused by high impact movements like jumping, cutting, and twisting. An individual more than optimum weight increases the negative effects of these movements by increasing the forces acting on the knees. Excessive loading leads to wearing away of the cartilage, which enables the kneecap to move smoothly over the thigh bone, and causes chronic pain. Managing weight through regular exercise and whole food nutrition takes load off the knees so that one can enjoy a physically active lifestyle.

Why Choose Cycling Over Running For Your Knees?

Our body is designed in such a way that makes it easy for us to walk and run. Thus it is easy for these activities to be incorporated in our lives as a part of daily exercise regimen. A lot of people around the world just love running. Running is an excellent, effective and inexpensive way of torching calories, and also works well with almost every cross-training regimen. However, both walking and running place excessive strain on knee joints. Walking puts weight on the knee which is close to three times the actual body weight, while in cases of running it is as much as six times. Greater the weight, the more force and strain is put on the knee and greater is the risk of a knee injury. If you have a supportive running shoe, which act as an effective shock absorber it will help decrease the impact of walking and running on the knees. So, when debating which sport is best, cycling is the overall winner. Cycling not helps to lose those extra pounds and stay healthy, but is also easy on the knees when compared to running.

Is Cycling Better For Your Knees Than Running

Is Cycling Better For Your Knees Than Running? Why?

So the answer to the question: Is cycling better for your knees than running? Is YES! Cycling is definitely better for the knees than running and walking because it:

Cycling Requires Lesser Endurance

With running you can burn more calories with each mile but majority of people are not able to run as much as they should be but rather prefer cycling especially if they want to lose some extra pounds. Gravity can be held responsible for this. When one runs, they have to lift their body weight off the floor to move themselves forward and this puts lot of pressure on the knees. Then they have to come back to the floor striking the floor with the feet absorbing the shock of the impact. These things make it very difficult to run 6 miles as recommended to stay fit but can rather cycle more than this. Running is also very difficult for obese people as every extra pound makes it that difficult. Obese people may find it tough to cycle on inclines but on flat surfaces it is relatively easy. Thus, cycling is more easy on the knees, especially if one is overweight.

Cycling Is Less Painful For Your Knees

Running is tougher on the knees than cycling. Running places greater amount of stress on the knees and causes inflammation. A lot more knee muscle trauma is involved with running and it is more difficult for the immune system to repair the damage. A study compared competitive cyclists and runners exercising for 3 hours a day for 3 days, it was seen that marathon runners experienced close to 400% more muscle damage, 200% more inflammation, and 80% more muscle soreness in the ensuing 48 hour recovery time when compared to cyclists.

Is Cycling An Exercise Option Without Any Problems?

Cycling is a much preferred option than walking or running as it is a significantly low impact workout. However, cyclists have to come to terms with their own barriers when it comes to have problems with the knees. Knee pain has been reported as one of the most common injuries in cyclists. The individual anatomy of the cyclist, alterations in equipment, and distance covered all play a significant role in contributing to damage caused to the damage when cycling. Excessive body weight means that one has to out greater force when pedaling thus putting excessive strain to the knees.


We can safely conclude that cycling is better for your knees than running, as cycling puts less stress on the knees than running; cycling requires lesser endurance than running; and cycling is less painful for your knees when compared to running. So take out your old bicycle from your garage and start cycling towards good health!

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 5, 2018

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