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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 04-05-14, 04:15 AM   #1
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Keeping knees in

When I was out on my last ride, a very kindhearted cyclist pulled up next to me and explained that my knees were splaying outward as I was pedalling and that I should focus on keeping them in, parallel to the top tube, so as to get my quads into the game, among other things. So I did on the way home and noticed that it was easier to maintain higher cadences (90+ RPM) in lower gears. I also noticed that the pain in the outside of my feet, which has bedevilled me since day one, got a lot better.

Two questions:

1. Has anybody else experienced this or heard of this?

2. Would some kind of a shoe mod (cleat wedges, etc.) help with keeping my knees in? If so, is this something I can do myself, or should I go back to my excellent PT fitter ($$$)?

Any advice/thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 04-05-14, 08:07 AM   #2
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I have this problem also when i get tired. I did turn the toes of my shoes inward just a tad because my knees were hurting on longer rides and it helped that but I don't think it helped in keeping my knees in. I think it is more like remembering not to lock your elbows, just fix it when you catch it and eventually muscle memory will take over.
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Old 04-05-14, 08:19 AM   #3
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I have gotten this. These people are well intentioned, and offer advice like getting the bike fit. I am satisfied with the "quick fit" I get from my LBS guy. He's pretty good. I have made minor adjustments to get it dialed in. When you have excess belly in the way you need a little clearance. I tell them this and it usually shuts them up.
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Old 04-05-14, 08:27 AM   #4
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When I first got into cycling, I had to keep reminding myself to keep my knees in, now it is just automatic.

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Old 04-05-14, 09:22 AM   #5
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Has anything changed since your "PT" fit? Did you fitter have you ride a trainer long enough to discover that you ride knees out? I do not think that adding wedge at the cleat will move your knee in but I may be wrong. My understanding is that wedges are used to find the ideal line-up of bones through the leg and foot. I think keeping the knees in takes practice and concentration and our over sized abdomens get in the way of that. You might give your fitter a call and ask. Perhaps this is where having a BG fit is better as it is easy to access a fitter at bike shop just by going in.
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Old 04-05-14, 11:49 AM   #6
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When looking for mechanical efficiency keeping the knees in is generally better. You can help yourself do this by trying to apply pedaling pressure on the inside of your foot (usually ball of big toe) versus the outside.

HOWEVER...... all the knees in/out, heels in/out ..... all that stuff is fine but make sure as you move to more efficient spin that you are not damaging your knees. Some people have a natural movement/path that their bodies go in and while you can try to improve some end up hurting themselves.

Just be careful. Get fitted, listen to advice, etc. but above all listen to your body. Learn the difference between being sort because you are doing something different and pain from your body not wanting to move a certain way.
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Old 04-05-14, 12:11 PM   #7
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With me it's just my right knee and it's not so much a matter of foot position but a matter of being lazy.
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Old 04-07-14, 07:06 AM   #8
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Knees out: classic beach cruiser pedalin' ! Gotta show off the package !

Now you'll remember.
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Old 04-07-14, 07:10 AM   #9
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Years ago, while watching the Tour I noticed that their knees were "in" and since then it's something I'm consciously aware of.
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Old 04-07-14, 07:47 AM   #10
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"Proper' form is all in a line or rather a plane...

Hip, knee and foot all travel in same plane through full rotation.

It is easier on the joints if they are subjected to less torsional (twisting) force as they go through the pedal stroke. It is also easier to develop a smooth high cadence when in line.

Muscle imbalances can make other paths seem more comfortable. It can also just be habit.

I have had knee surgery on right knee that was not too successful. I sometimes intentionally use other alignments if my knee is hurting or otherwise acting up. I choose Crank Brothers clip-less to allow for this.
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Old 04-07-14, 08:11 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
Knees out: classic beach cruiser pedalin' ! Gotta show off the package !

Now you'll remember.
Don't forget to pedal on your arch, and wear flip-flops.
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Old 04-07-14, 09:28 AM   #12
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I have this problem also. It's part belly, part habit, and part wide hips. On the advice of a Pro fitter I use Knee Saver's pedal extenders, these increase the Q measurement. The habit part is just a function of developing muscle memory. The belly, well that's another issue
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Old 04-07-14, 12:32 PM   #13
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I have seen a few folks whose problem was that their seat was too low. That caused their legs to come up too high at the top of their stroke and compress into their bellies. They would rotate the knees out to get away from that compression. Check to see if you could raise the seat a bit comfortably, and it might make it easier to keep your knees in. Also, the pain in the side of your foot may come from resting against the edge of the play in your cleats if you are using clipless pedals. Rotating your knees back in may have taken your foot away from resting on the edge of the play, eliminating the pressure on that side of your foot.

Last edited by txags92; 04-07-14 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 04-07-14, 01:57 PM   #14
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I've seen lots of ppl with their knees out but I would never say anything. glad you are comfortable with your knees in more.
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Old 04-07-14, 05:44 PM   #15
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As others have posted, watch the pros. We're not pros but we should certainly consider why in all cases the pros ride with their knees in.
I was born slightly pigeon toed. The best cycling shoes I ever owned were a couple pairs of Marresi's because there was a wedge molded into the sole that tipped my foot inward effectively countering my tendency to splay my knees. The only way to comfortably peddle was by mentally focusing on a line of force running down from my hip through my knee, inner ankle and into my big toe.

Now that I've graduated from toe clips and retired the Marresi's I use something called "The Wedge" from Bike Fit Systems with the full stack of shims between my cleat and sole, thick sides outboard (requiring a longer cleat screw).

Raising your seat slightly will also help for us full-figured bikers (first-hand knowledge) but be aware how much hip-rocking you incur. Spinning at a high cadence will give that away. The hips shouldn't rock very much.
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