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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-22-08, 06:09 PM   #1
brent_co
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Quad soreness and knee popping

So I have been commuting off and on (every other day) for a while now and the quad soreness never seems to go away.

The part of the muscle that is the most sore is on the outter edge (open hand with thumb on left and index finger on the right). This starts just above the sides of the knees. Again - no knee pain, but my knees seem to pop quite a bit.

Anyone experience this or have suggestions?

Brent
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Old 07-22-08, 06:11 PM   #2
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It's likely that your seat is too low or too far forward. Possibly both. Are you using clipless, toe-clips, or just plain old platform pedals?

My initial suggestion is to get fitted by a professional, or at least try playing with your seat and reading about seat adjustment online.
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Old 07-22-08, 06:37 PM   #3
brent_co
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I have been to my LBS for 3 different 'fittings' over a period of 4 months. I don't see any real improvement and just wonder if I need to keep on pushing on.

There is a business in town started by Sports Medicine folks that does a computerized fit but they charge 250 - would this be worth the money?
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Old 07-22-08, 07:18 PM   #4
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250 is pretty steep for getting a fit for commuting. Then again, it's your body.

Getting the fit dialed in is an exercise in small adjustments. 1/2 inch, one way or another, is a mile concerning bike fit.

Muscle soreness is fairly normal. Sounds to me, though, like you might be having tendon pain, which can be a harbinger of Bad Things. Then again, your description with the thumb and fingers leaves a little to be desired Take a couple of days rest and see how that fares. Good thing there's no knee pain, yet, but I'd be a little concerned about the popping (which I too get from time to time). Do your knees tend to pop more often when you extend the leg or flex? Knowing this information can help in determining which way you need to make the adjustments...
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Old 07-22-08, 07:39 PM   #5
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Do you stretch after riding? Also make sure you drink atleast 1 cup of water for every 15 minutes or riding.
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Old 07-22-08, 07:41 PM   #6
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Thanks - sorry for my poor description. I just asked my wife who is a nurse so she was pushing on my muscle and it does appear to be quade soreness, but it just seems excessivly sore.

My knees sometimes pop when I stand up and sometimes feel like the need to pop and when they do the 'full joint' feeling goes away. if I am sitting down in a chair and place my hand on my knee and extend my leg, it will pop, almost like poping your knucles or getting your back cracked at a chiropractor.

I rested for a week (mucles never really fully quit being sore) and then restarted.

Just not sure what to do and hoping anyone with long term bike commuting success can give me additional pointers.

My seat seems to be good because prior to it's current adjustment the insides of my knees would be in excruciating pain after a short 12 mile ride. I do have clipless pedal system.

Let me know if you need any more detal.
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Old 07-22-08, 08:18 PM   #7
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How long have you been riding? Muscle soreness is only a sign that you have stressed your muscles and they need to rest. When they recover, you will be stronger.

Are you spinning easily in a low gear, or pushing hard in a high gear? High gears can stress your knees.

Knee popping? Maybe you need to see a doctor.
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Old 07-22-08, 08:22 PM   #8
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how is it popping? joints can pop and crack all the time without it being any big thing.
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Old 07-22-08, 08:57 PM   #9
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I don't think I will worry about the popping my knees are making as there is no pain.

Tonight I was moving my bike and realized it is not just my quads that are sore but my arm muscles too, so I probably just over did it Monday when I had to fight a very strong headwind. My normal commute takes about 1:15 but on Monday it took me a little over 2 hours. Usually I can keep a 15-16mph pace on the MUP here, but I could not get above 8-10 mph Monday morning with the head wind - it was just too much.

I have been riding for 3 months now about every other day and typically only ride my bike to work and then catch the light rail/bus home. Each way is 16 miles and one day I hope to be able to make it round trip on the bike. I also generally do a 20 mile ride on either Sat or Sun.

My typical cadance is 80rpm and I go for the gear that gives me the least resistance and keeps me around 80-90 rpm. I try hard to not use the higher gears, but did notice the other day I was pushing hard against a head - strongest I have ever encountered and had to drop down to granny gear several times just to keep going.

I am probably overreacting to my muscle soreness/knees, but love riding so much and don't want to mess it up.

Gonna take a 2 day break and see how I recover - I did notice today my resting heart rate is up above normal and this typically indicates my body needs more recovery time.

Thanks for the input and I will keep you all posted.
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Old 07-22-08, 09:27 PM   #10
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You ride a long ways and as much as it might suck, you probably need to take it easier to give yourself time to heal. Does a faster cadence hurt more or less? 80 seems kinda low. Make sure you're getting enough sleep.

I also think people who spend a lot of time doing one type of activity like cycling set themselves up for injuries because the muscles don't develop in balanced way. Hit the weights, the pool, run, or whatever so that you're also building the muscles in your legs that don't get that worked that much while cycling.

Not too long ago a took a week off from most intense activities in order to get rested for an upcoming triathlon. I did bike, but only for short distances and at low intensity.

When the time came for the triathlon, I felt better and stronger than I had in months. Of course a couple hours later my legs felt like heavy hollow tubes, but they were back to normal before long.
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Old 07-22-08, 09:40 PM   #11
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It kinda sounds like you're tensing up. You mentioned being sore in your upper body, I'm guessing you're pulling on every stroke (in the headwind). It's not abnormal to do that to max out your power, but you shouldn't be maxing out your power for an hour on a commute: It's not an athletic event. Relax.

Maybe your pushing the pace too hard. You might try to keep your pace down not by watching the speedometer but by easing up when you feel out of breath. Try to ride so that you'd feel comfortable talking to someone riding next to you, even though they aren't there. You might even let the bike coast down a hill or two .

If you were pushing it it'll take you longer. But it's better to be there relaxed right?

I think $250 for a bike fit is a rip off. Sounds like something people who buy carbon wonder bikes would do. Bike fits should come with the bike.
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Old 07-22-08, 10:17 PM   #12
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tjspeil may be right, you may only be developing some of your muscles (e.g. the biking ones) and not building up other muscles that act as, for instance, stabilizers that allow your knee to track properly.

It sounds like you have a decently long commute, so you may also be over-exerting yourself. You may need to evaluate your diet...if your activity level has substantially stepped up, what you eat may need to change as well (i.e. eat more protein).

If I were in your shoes, I would back off on the number of days I commute and try incorporating other activities that work my leg muscles differently (e.g. weights, running, skating). In general, if the pain isn't going away, you should probably stop before you get injured.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:56 AM   #13
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Are you taking any cholesterol drugs, statins? I had a similar issue, and found it was the drugs, it's their Number 1 issue.
Quote:
Aching muscles are especially common among statin drug users, and according to Bottom Line Yearbook 2002, muscle ache can actually be a sign that body tissues are breaking down, which can lead to serious kidney damage.
http://www.naturalnews.com/021397.html

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Old 07-23-08, 01:27 PM   #14
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Is it poppin' and lockin'? If so you may have a new career opportunity.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:37 PM   #15
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Dude, do yourself a favor and get off the bike until the pain & soreness goes away. I was stubborn and rode like a madman for a month, it was fun but now I'm on the sidelines for a while because of knee pain. I have to wait till August 5th to be seen by an orthopedic so no rides for me. I just want to make sure nothing is seriously screwed up. Next time around, I'll be starting off nice & slow.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corripio View Post
tjspeil may be right, you may only be developing some of your muscles (e.g. the biking ones) and not building up other muscles that act as, for instance, stabilizers that allow your knee to track properly.

It sounds like you have a decently long commute, so you may also be over-exerting yourself. You may need to evaluate your diet...if your activity level has substantially stepped up, what you eat may need to change as well (i.e. eat more protein).

If I were in your shoes, I would back off on the number of days I commute and try incorporating other activities that work my leg muscles differently (e.g. weights, running, skating). In general, if the pain isn't going away, you should probably stop before you get injured.
If the quad burn involves lactic acid buildup, he should eat more carbs (rather than more protein), no? (And try a little sports drink with carbs and aminos early in the ride, before you're thirsty or running low on fuel.)

Otherwise, more rest is never a bad idea. You're right to take the long view and build up to more miles a little at a time. I don't push myself much anymore. I have a history that repeats itself: several (6-9) months of hard working out - probably without enough rest in between - followed by a nagging or annoying injury (E.g. I used to get a nasty pinched nerve in my left shoulder that would keep me from doing almost any upper body lifting) that would break my routine and screw up my workouts. Now I try to go steadier and longer (not as hard), rest when I'm tired, and blow off riding when there's more risk than gain (E.g. 102 deg. heat like today).

YMMV.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:03 PM   #17
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Seeing a doc is a good idea. Meanwhile, look at information on Iliotibial band syndrome. Are you toeing in excessively while you pedal? The feet should be straight ahead or possibly slightly angled outward for best knee flexion biomechanics. The seat should be high enough, and the top tube the right length with the seat set back just right.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iliotibial_band_syndrome
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Old 07-24-08, 02:21 AM   #18
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From the area you are explaining is sore, it sounds like your IT bands are most at issue, rather than your quads. Your IT bands run along the outside of your thighs, and generally get the most sore from exercise based in straight forward leg movements (running, cycling).

Here's a good video showing how to stretch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9aJt...eature=related
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Old 07-24-08, 04:07 AM   #19
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The knee popping doesn't sound good to me. I've worked with an orthopedist and symptoms such as that usually indicate problems with knee joint, things like ACL tears and meniscal damage. I highly encourage you, if you haven't already done so, go see a doctor about it. Some of those injuries require surgery to stabilize properly. Others take a long time to heal properly.... much more than just a couple weeks off.

Last edited by viclavigne; 07-24-08 at 04:15 AM.
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