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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 08-05-08, 07:24 AM   #1
Hitman
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1ST commute and knee pain.

I just started commuting to work yesterday. The ride is 15 miles round trip mostly flat. The problem I have now is a sharp pain in my knee. I'm not sure if it's due to the fact theat I'm not in the best shape. The pain is in my left knee towards the top of the kneecap on the right side (inside of knee).
Should I chalk this up to just starting to ride or should I be worried?
Any help would be great
Thanks in advance
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Old 08-05-08, 07:31 AM   #2
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Have you ever had knee problems before? Is your bike adjusted to properly fit you? If you don't know how to make adjustments to fit your bike or if the changes you're making aren't helping, it would probably be worth talking to your LBS about a fitting session.
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Old 08-05-08, 07:42 AM   #3
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Seat height and gear choice.

You can find references to correct seat height pretty easily. Just do a few searches. Knee pain is often related to it. (You might do some reading up on "iliotibial band syndrome," too.)

Choose the easier gear and a faster cadence, not the harder gear and a slower cadence. You want to be spinning, not pushing. Once you're OK like that, and the knee isn't hurting, you can start increasing resistance. Every time I'm off the bike for more than a few weeks, I get back on by spinning for a few days before starting to push again--for exactly this reason. My knees get injured if I don't. I also start by commuting one way for a few days instead of making the whole round trip: Home to work, leave the bike there overnight. Work to home the next day. Repeat a few times. Then start the round trip the following week.

You know how a chain is only as strong as the weakest link? You've got some really teeny muscles in there.
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Last edited by noteon; 08-05-08 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 08-05-08, 07:49 AM   #4
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Seat height and gear choice.
+1 It's amazing how much it helps to have correct seat height and gear choice when riding. Your knees are nothing to fool around with and cycling, if done correctly, is one of the best exercises for people with bad knees.
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Old 08-05-08, 07:51 AM   #5
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after adjusting your bike properly if u feeling pain (other than normal muscle soreness), like sharp pain it's your body's way of telling you to stop or get it checked out because there is something wrong. Good luck!
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Old 08-05-08, 08:01 AM   #6
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I think my seat height is ok, my legs are slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. I don't think I was in a hard gear, I was never out of breath at any point during the ride. I think it's time to go to the shop and check the fit of the bike.
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Old 08-05-08, 08:04 AM   #7
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I think my seat height is ok, my legs are slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. I don't think I was in a hard gear, I was never out of breath at any point during the ride. I think it's time to go to the shop and check the fit of the bike.
I've always found improper bike fit would cause more back/shoulder pain, not knees. If you're sure of the seat and gear choices, then, as Bster13 said, it might be time to go get checked out by a doctor.
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Old 08-05-08, 08:05 AM   #8
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15 miles is a long way to just hit outright the first time out. My money's still on spinning and reducing the mileage, then build it up.

You shouldn't just be in a "not hard" gear--you should be in an easy gear. Like almost too easy, pedaling almost too fast.
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Old 08-05-08, 08:14 AM   #9
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I probably could go for an easier gear. I am going to go for a few short rides during the week and see what happens.
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Old 08-05-08, 10:26 AM   #10
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seat height!
My knees hurt whenever my seat height is off even a little bit. A very small adjustment will make the pain go away.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:01 AM   #11
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Seat height and gear choice.
+1

Your seat should be high enough that your leg is very near full extention at the bottom of the stroke. If you rock in the saddle you have gone too far.

Cadence should be between 90-110 rpm. Get a computer that shows cadence. After you become experienced you probably won't look at the cadence feature anymore, but it is invaluable during the early days. Also, if you don't have them already, you will need clipless pedals in order to turn a good cadence.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:04 AM   #12
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I think it's normal to have some aches and pains when you first start out. Fit could be a problem, but if everything checks out and the pain persists, don't freak out, and don't give up. Just scale things back a bit and get more used to being on the bike. After you've put some good miles on the bike (spread out in shorter rides), try the commute again.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:11 AM   #13
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New riders seem to want to go fast. Go slower.
You don't need a bunch of electronics to tell you how you feel.
Slow down. The only time my knee hurt was when the seat was too hight.
6300 miles without a heart rate- cadence monitor, clipless pedals.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:18 AM   #14
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Pain on front of knee means saddle is low. Raise it about 5 mm. I did that once for knee pain, and the improvement was instantaneous and dramatic.

If that doesn't work, you might want to condition with some shorter evening and weekend rides, or take the bike just a couple or three days a week. Going from nothing to 15 miles a day is asking a lot of the body.
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Old 08-05-08, 11:56 AM   #15
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Thanks again everyone. I am going to raise the seat a little and see if it helps and do some shorter "Test rides" to see if I notice any difference. Than try the commute again next week. I am shooting for 4 days a week and speed is not an issue, I leave the house plenty early so I can take my time and not have to worry about being late to work.
The Plus side to commuting is my wife said I can buy a new bike if I keep up with the riding.
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Old 08-05-08, 12:02 PM   #16
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I once went to the doctor with knee pain in a spot close to that (but on the opposite knee) and he sent me away with (besides a prescription for anti-inflammatory drugs) a sheet of exercises for stretching and strengthening the legs. So, in addition to the above advice, you might start a regimen of stretching. It's one of those things that might not help but certainly can't hurt, and is therefore a good thing to try first before anything drastic.
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Old 08-05-08, 12:52 PM   #17
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I've had knee problems for many years and the one thing that every Physical Therapist i've seen has said is ICE.

If your knee is hurting Ice it as soon as you can. Ice for 15 minutes repeat hourly as necessary.

I probably break out the ice pack every other week or so, but I do so at the first twinge of knee pain...nip it in the bud or something.


I found that a day of rest between commutes was extremely beneficial when i was starting.
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Old 08-05-08, 01:17 PM   #18
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+1 on the stretching. Warm up by riding gently for a mile or two, then get off and spend 5 minutes stretching.

Also, how's your form? I know my knees will hurt more when I pedal "toes down". When I come around the top of my stroke, I drop my heel just a bit and that always reduces my knee problems.

Lastly, try to keep your knees close to the top tube. If your legs are splayed open when you pedal, this could cause knee trouble as well.
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Old 08-05-08, 03:41 PM   #19
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I think my form is pretty good, used to race as a kid but that was 15+ years ago or so. My heel is always down a little, I have never been one for the "toes down" form. I think I just over did it doing 15 miles my first time out, it seems much better today after some rest and ice.
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Old 08-05-08, 09:50 PM   #20
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I had poping / cracking in my knees which turned into severe knee pain so I went to ortho and he said go get refitted and then come back if I still had issues.

So - I went and got a new fit -seat height was ok, but my knees were pronating too far out. The fit specialist made some major adjustments to the pedals and cleat placement on the shoes and then he moved my seat forward a little and my pain is gone as is the poping sounds. Now I only have mild soreness where I would expect it after hammering up a major hill.

The first LBS did a half-*****ed job and they have not provided the most impressive service. I decided to use another LBS and pay for a new fit ($75) since I didn't buy my bike there. I have been very happy and it was the best $75 spent to date on cycling.

My advice is to get a good fit from someone who specializes in bike fits, it solves so many issues.
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Old 08-06-08, 06:19 AM   #21
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Unfortunalty my old LBS went out of buisness, so I am in the search of a good shop close to me.
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