Recumbent - First week - sore knees
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09-12-04, 10:01 AM
After a 20 mile ride on my old df, my back was sore, shoulders were sore, butt was sore and hands were numb. It was very uncomfortable. Now, one week after getting my EZ Sport, all of that is gone but my knees are a little sore. Is that sort of common when just beginning to ride a bent? After 20 miles, I was still fresh and pain free except for the knees. Love this bike.
As 7 of 9 always said, "you will adapt". Using a little lower gear and spinning a bit more will help.
Recumbents are a bit more demanding of the knees because there is much less upper body contribution
to moving the bike than on a regular bike. Try riding a regular bike 20 miles with just your fingertips
on the bars for a comparison especially on hills. Less torque and more spin is you best bet. If riding with a group pay attention to the cadence of those around you and try to keep your cadence a little faster
than theirs. Steve
09-12-04, 10:49 AM
Hello Larry Jay,
I read about your problem with sore knees. Last year I made a trip on my touring recumbent about 2240 miles and when I had made half of that trip I was affected by a severe pain in my knees. I decided to rest for a couple of days and change my technique of pedalling. After that I rode my bike again using a pedalcadence of over 90 rpm. Since then I have never had any problem with my knees.
09-12-04, 11:47 AM
"As 7 of 9 always said, "you will adapt"" This should read
"you SHALL adapt".
Your knees hurt because A.) you're out of shape or B.) you're
pedaling wrong putting to much strain on your knees.
Try to "adapt" to where your body wants to work for now. If
it hurts......it's wrong. Period.
Bottom line......be kinder to your knees, mate. Much kinder.
09-12-04, 12:31 PM
I also had a little bit of knee pain when I first started riding a recumbent (I have an EZ Sport, too). It pretty much disappeared when I learned to spin in an easier gear. Gradually, I have been able to spin in higher gears, but it's important to let yourself improve slowly.
09-12-04, 12:48 PM
Thanks everybody for your help. Sounds like spinning in lower gears is the answer and I try to do that but not nearly as well as I should. Although I rode a lot on my df, I wasn't good at spinning. This will take some work. Fortunately I'm in pretty good shape leg wise so just need to work on cadence. Thanks again.
Keep the RPMs up. Just cruising I typically run in the 80s. On club rides where I'm running with the DF racer guys I'm running in the 90's and also gear down and run about the same on easy hills. On steeper hills where they stand up and grind their way up I gear way down and take the cadence over 100. Amazingly I can keep up with them with not too much effort. The secret is to spin and not hammer. The only time the knees get to me is if I have too high a gear and hammer really hard.
09-13-04, 10:51 AM
I concur :) My knees are not great, so the first twinge tells me to stop pushing! Gear down and turn the pedals without force. Sounds bizarre but it works.
09-13-04, 04:59 PM
Today I tried hard to keep the cadence up around 80 to 90. It sounds much easier than it is. I would say I was about 70% successful. Keeping that cadence for an hour or more is wearing and I thought I was in pretty good condition from riding my df a lot. It seemed easier if I just relaxed, found an easy gear, kept up the cadence and forgot about what the speed was. The speed, I assume, will come in time but for now I'm slower than I was on my df. The good news is that the knees do not hurt nearly as much and am having a fantastic time riding. I'm thinking about putting on clipless soon. I was comfortable with them on my df so it shouldn't be too difficult now. Thanks for all your advice and help.
09-13-04, 09:25 PM
Larry, I have been riding bents for three years. The usual causes of sore knees is either you are trying to push too hard in too gears that are too high or you need to adjust the seat so that your knees don't straighten out at the end of the stroke. To adjust the seat you should set the seat by sitting on it and extending your leg so that your heel is directly under the pedal with your leg fully extended. If you do this you will have your knee slighly bent at the end of the stroke with the ball of your foot on the pedal. This gives you the maximum power in each stroke without hurting your knees. Having the seat in the wrong position can cause pain in various places in the knee area. Pain at the front, if I remember correctly, is usually because you are too close and pain in the back of the leg means you are too far back. If I am wrong about that someone else on this board will correct me.
If you try to use gears that are too high on a bent you can blow out your knees because you can put so much pressure on them by pushing with your glutes pushed against the back of the seat (something that could never happen on a DF) so the best advice is to develop a cadance that you are comfortable with and then shift down as you climb to maintian your speed. Remember if you seem slower on the climb up (and you may well be) you will benefit from the bent's areodynamic advantage on the way back down. It is nothing to be able to coast down a moderate hill at speeds in the mid to upper 20s and faster if your maintain your cadance on the way down.
Just don't try to go great distances the first few weeks as you are using muscles that you didn't use on the DF. A bent uses almost all the muscles in the leg. Once you get your legs broken in you will be able to fly. We find it to be great fun to ride with or blow past the spandex clad "roadies" who are riding bent over on an appolstered post (weggie seat) and then tell them that I'm a 62 year-old, over weight (260#) retired teacher who is riding in comfort and enjoying the scenery.
Just keep adjusting and conditioning. Good luck and good riding.
Yeah it is fun on a club ride to hang just a little behind the fast roadies and listen to them huff and puff going into a stiff head wind or climbing a steep hill all the while I'm on their tails spinning along. After the ride I apologize for holding them up with my "slow" 'bent. They usually reply "we were working our a$$es off, how do you do it?" He, He.
09-16-04, 11:50 AM
Your problem is not that uncommon. You might want to try Rotors if you have a problem maintaining a high cadence. I am a dyed in the wool masher and the Rotors allow me to keep a lower cadence 75-90 without any loss of speed. I also no longer have a problem with sore knees. more info: www.rotorbike.com
09-16-04, 07:28 PM
Rotorboy, I looked up the web site and read the article on recumbents.com. The rotors sound expensive and also looks like they need to be installed by someone who really knows what they are doing. I was wondering if anyone else out there was using rotors also and how they liked them.
09-17-04, 12:36 PM
There are a number of articles in Recumbent Cyclist News this issue about the Rotor. One is a review by Matt Schneps along with some installation tips. It is a good, fair article. Are you running a triple or double up front? Compared to a new bike/wheelset, the Rotors are pretty cost efficient. How many other upgrades for your bike would give you increased performance along with knees that don't hurt?
Rotors are cool and all... But, Spinning faster is FREE! :D
09-20-04, 04:46 PM
Before spending BIG bucks on Rotors, there are some other tweaks to try first. Wider 'Q' factor bottom bracket, spreads your knees wider apart, usually indicated by pain on the outside of the knee. As mentioned spinning is good, as is closer seat adjustment. Counterintuitively adjusting the seat back angle can help (less mashing laying down?). Also shorter length crank arms have helped some people, 175mm is common, 170 or 165mm are reasonable substitutes. One friend of mine found out she has different length legs, so put different length cranks on her bike. That worked for knee pain on only one side. Fixed a hip zinger she would occationally get as well.
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