General Cycling Discussion - knee pain - help with bike setup, etc?
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Hey all. I occasionally have some pain in one of my knees after cycling. I'm trying to figure out what the cause is, and whether adjusting the configuration of my bike might help. It's really hard for me to try to describe and localize the pain, but it seems sort of like it's almost UNDER the knee cap, maybe a bit on the outside of the knee (i.e. on the right knee, the right side). I usually don't feel it after riding, but rather will wake up one morning and have knee pain and then take a couple days off. I don't know if that description sounds crazy or not, but it's the best I can do right now because I relaxed a couple days, and now the pain seems to have gone away.
A little background and a theory: I was in a motorcycle crash about two years ago and injured my left knee a bit (mostly something with the ACL, I think, but there was no surgery, just physical therapy). The pain I've been experiencing is usually in my RIGHT, or "good" knee. I'm wondering if maybe I'm subconsciously compensating for my "bad" knee by over-using my good one. I don't know, just a thought.
Mainly, I'm wondering if you guys have any suggestions, or links you could direct me to. Also, I have a feeling my bike configuration might not be perfect. Could these symptoms point to anything, such as seat height, etc? In case it matters, I'm using pedals with cages.
10-06-06, 02:02 PM
Having the saddle too low can lead to knee pain. So can "mashing," pushing a very high gear instead of spinning.
Were you fitted for the bike at a shop?
10-06-06, 02:08 PM
Three things can help:
1. It has become "stylish" to sell bikes with absurd gearing (four or five speeds between 90 inches and 130 inches). Your knees would prefer that you stay in gears between around 55 inches and 75 inches, and get your speed by building up your cadence rate to 90 RPM's or 100 RPM's.
2. It has become stylish to "lock" your shoes to the pedal, ensuring the precise same angle of stress on your knee throughout a ride. Instead, use shoes and pedals that make it easy to shift your foot during a ride, moving it half an inch forward, and half an inch back, giving different parts of your feet, legs and knees a rest.
3. Play with the height of your saddle. Most formulas for saddle height assume you are a young guy who races bikes. Those formulas have the knee and leg almost straight when the pedal is at 6 0'clock. Most people don't race for a living. Dropping the saddle an inch or so below the "Pro" level provides a more distinct knee bend with the foot at the bottom of the stroke. This height provides less stress to the knees and to the crotch area as well.
Start out your rides slowly. Take it very easy for the first ten or fifteen minutes of riding to give your legs time to loosen up and warm up.
Try to ride everyday. Guys who ride hard once or twice a week seem to have more pain than guys who ride everyday.
10-06-06, 03:13 PM
FWIW, I've been having what sounds like a similar knee pain. In my case it's both knees (although usually not equally), under the knee cap. From some internet research it sounded to me like it's what's called runner's knee, which comes from the knee cap not tracking properly over the bits underneath it. (can you tell I'm not a doctor?)
If that IS what it is, I found two solutions, which you might use in tandem.
1) adjusting your bike setup/foot positioning (as suggested above)
2) doing exercises to help balance out the muscles surrounding your knee. Say, the muscles on the right side of your right leg are a little stronger than the inside and they pull the knee cap a bit out of line as you pedal.
I don't know what those exercises are yet, and I'm going to be seeing an orthopedist in a week or so just to make sure because my knees are dear to me.
10-06-06, 04:12 PM
The info about "Knee savers" in this thread might help you.
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