Top tips for cyclists who are recovering from knee surgery

This weekend thousands of cyclists will take to the roads for the TP ICAP L’Etape London, an annual event offering people three long distance rides and the chance to cycle around the Lee Valley VeloPark at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Cycling is a great way to exercise but there are some things to consider before saddling up, especially if you’ve recently had knee replacement surgery. The Care UK physiotherapy team offers this advice:

  • Make sure that you have reached an appropriate level of strength and range of motion which makes cycling safe – check with your physiotherapist or GP.
  • Set the height of your seat correctly by sitting on the saddle with your operated on knee straight down and resting on the pedal. You should have a slight bend in your knee when the pedal is at its lowest point. Make sure you and the bike are supported before you try this.
  • Start by pedalling slowly. At first you might not be able to pedal all the way around, which is normal. Pedal until your operated knee bends as far as you can tolerate.
  • When your knee is bent as far is it will comfortably go hold the position for a few seconds and then pedal backwards until your knee once again bends as far as you can tolerate. Hold the position for a few seconds and slowly pedal forwards again.
  • Repeat backwards and forwards for a few minutes and it is likely that you will notice a rapid improvement in your range of motion, to the point where you will be able to pedal round fully.
  • Your knee must be able to bend about 90 degrees before you can fully pedal on a bicycle. Your physiotherapist will be able to measure your range of movement and let you know when this has been achieved.
  • Start building light resistance gradually to help improve the strength and endurance of your leg muscles. Again, your physiotherapist will be able to give you advice on how much resistance to add and when. You might experience some knee discomfort but this is to be expected and will ease over time.
  • If you feel a sharp pain in your knee while cycling stop and see your physiotherapist as soon as possible.

Care UK operates nine NHS treatment centres nationally, many of which specialise in orthopaedic surgery, including knee replacements. Find out more on the Care UK Health Care website.