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A slight bend in your knee protects the joint when cycling.
Exercise is like a magic pill full of health and wellness benefits. However, similar to most medications, the side-effects can be painful if not taken according to the directions. On an exercise bike, painful knees are often a side-effect when proper body position is not used. Fortunately, a quick 10-second adjustment saves you hours of knee-joint discomfort.
Tall and Proud
An upright stationary bicycle most closely resembles a road bike. Your cycle of choice may be a traditional stationary bike, an air-cycle that has moveable arm handles or a spin bike that is capable of cycling at higher speeds and resistances. Regardless of the type of upright bike you ride, your knee position is the same. Adjust the height of the seat so your knee is slightly bent at the lowest point of your pedal stroke. Your knees shouldn't lock, or remain too bent as you exercise.
Front to Back
Once you have the height of your seat adjusted, check to see if you can adjust the seat forward and backward. Set the distance of the seat from the handlebars to one that places your knee in a straight line out from your hip and up from your heel when you are at the highest point of your pedal stroke.
If a recumbent bike is your exercise choice, you remain seated with your legs extended in front of you for your ride. Once you adjust the seat back to place you in an upright, supported position, place your feet on the pedals. Slide the seat forward or backward until you have a slight bend in your knee when your leg is fully extended. Your toes are flexed, or pulled toward your shin, as you do this so you are pushing the pedal with the ball of your foot.
Your proper knee position on the exercise bike is primarily set before your workout. You keep proper knee alignment by using a light to moderate resistance level so you don't have to stress your knees. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a heavy load that drops your cycling cadence to less than 50 revolutions per minute places unnecessary stress on your knees. Select a gear that's challenging, but lets you stay between 60 and 90 rpm to protect your knees.