Here is something new I
learned about my own experience.
I agree that if I could hike downhill as much as I cycle, I would not experience this pain.
But, for me, that is not practical since I ride 12 to 13 hours per week (commuting), and I work full time most of the year, etc...
Based on my recent experience having more than a week off the bike on travel and holiday events,
and based on the idea that the bundles of muscles fibers when rubbed together under force in one direction (cycling)
build up a grain on the muscle bundle edges, I decided to try something new to reduce the pain.
After a few days inside with no exercise and needing to return home, I also had to go down many flights of stairs to move belongings.
The same pain happened acutely during this activity, so I stopped and for 10 minutes where I sat on a high chair and swung my legs freely front and back so that the knees bent and straightened and the quad muscles would be flexed and rub together, but not be under tension.
I thought this action might slowly reduce the scarred edges to the muscle fibers (assuming that's what was there).
I then resumed walking down stairs.
The quad pain was greatly reduced and almost eliminated, and from experience, this was a huge improvement.
So, although this result does not prove the muscle fiber theory, it at least supports it.
And it gives me a way to reduce the pain when it happens.
I might work these leg swinging actions into my daily routine.
I've been managing the same problem since I started taking spinning classes years back. Lately I've taken on biking 4-5 times week and I experience the same issues when taking more than 2 days break. Even shorter breaks of 36h make me legs feel "funny" for the first 30 min into the bike ride. I have a desk job and I'm convinced that the problem is due to the leg muscle unbalance. What works for me is to do squats at the gym, once a week, 5-8 sets of 15-20 reps using maximum weight I can handle. Hiking seems to help too but requires way too much time.
Have you been diagnosed with relatively short tendons/ligaments in the posterior of your upper leg? My first thought upon reading your symptoms was to hold suspect the muscle group which counterbalances the forces acting on your bones by your quads (biceps femoris and semitendinosus, roughly). A deficiency in the elements which anchor said counterbalancing muscles may account for this.
Originally Posted by buzzbee
Is this a burning pain or a cramping pain? Have you tried treating it with rehydration salts?
You may hear something like "you cannot cycle too much" but this is not correct, as it is impossible to make such an assertion without knowing the intimate details of your muscle physiology, which even your PCP won't have the time or funding to know. If you ride hard enough while cycling, perhaps your physiology is such that the repeated concentric contractions during a hard ride while commuting causes a sustained injurious state within the quad's myofibrils, which is only revealed when the quads are used for eccentric contraction while hiking a downhill grade. A simple way to diagnose this is to run a trial wherein you discontinue cycling for a significant period of time while retaining your hiking schedule; if the pain decreases or disappears altogether, the culprit is logically cycling, or at the least has to do with cycling.
Qualified in what?
Originally Posted by shawnh
This is not a bad route to pursue, and my sentiments with respect to the OP's problem.
Originally Posted by DesertCrawler
I'm not sure if I've been asked this question...
But, yes, I have proved it is commuting by bike that causes my problem.
If I stay completely off the bike for a few weeks or more, then this pain never appears.
The pain is not sharp or stinging, but starts off as twinges, and gets more acute within minutes.
I have not found any medicine that helps.
My current theory is that the constant cycling builds up a grain direction (like in wood) in my quads, and walking downhill goes against the grain. If I hike the day after riding I do not get the pain because the scar tissue has not built up yet on those muscle grains.
What I do to help prevent the pain is to swing my legs freely for at least 10 minutes, perhaps this reduces the amount of exposed grain or breaks down the scar tissue...
It's just a theory, but it seems to match the data.
The impact of walk/hike/jog is going to make a difference too. I pretty much never stretch (my knees are too wonky from crashes), and i've never had any issues. I have had pains here and there, though i doubt they are cycling related. Proper potassium intake is just as likely cure as anything to do with repetitive exertion.
Hope that helps? :thumb:
Buzzbee: Thank You! for starting this thread. I've read all the entries, and your original symptoms especially as summarized here in entry #70 sum it up for me.
I am a fellow sufferer.
My history: avid cyclist, 56 years old, ran a lot in my late teens, but knees started to act up so switched to cycling. I used to race a bit of minor Cat 4 road stuff in my 30s and 40s. Then infrequent riding for 10 years or so. Started to ride more, then a lot more when I took a couple years off of work including bicycling across the US and the bicycling the west coast from Canada to Mexico. I currently ride 100-175 miles a week, 5-6 days a week. Walk short flat distances with wife and dog every day. No running ... typically. Every year for the past 4 years this exact scenario plays out:
My wife and I take an annual trip up to Canada and I do not bring my bike. I still crave exercise so I head out for some hiking and jogging, everything is fine including anaerobic slogs up steep hills until my first downhill, then ... excruciating pain in my quads. Have to hobble home and hope there is not too much downhill between where I am and where I need to be. The first time it happened I totally freaked out, thought I'd ruined my legs in some way. Did the usual, rest, ice; later hot tub, stretching, gradually working up distance. That first year I searched the internet and found some articles that were slightly relevant, but really didn't seem to hit it. My quads always seems to get a bit better as the vacation progresses, lots of time in the hot tub, stretching, trying to get the cycling legs used to the new activity. Internist, Orthopedist and physical therapist all at a loss to explain cause.
For me definitely related to: lots of cycling every week, a couple days off traveling, then no cycling but some jogging, then as soon as I hit that first downhill, however gradual, after a 1/4 mile or so: POW. No way to continue, feel almost sick to my stomach and unable to push through. If I could find a route that only went uphill for 6 miles or so on this little island we're staying on near Victoria then a gondola ride home, I'd be set, maybe we'll have to change our travel plans to Switzerland every year ...
Another couple weeks of not cycling ahead, it seems to be getting better, I'd like to build up to being able to at least jog down the hills I'm running up, so frustrating.
I'm going to try your leg hanging thing.
Don't know how I missed this forum and thread, but I'm subscribed to this now :-).
Thanks again, so great to know I'm not alone.
it is a muscle imbalance but its because a bike does not have any "negative" contractions for legs... its all a positive contraction... when hiking you have to use the legs in a more complete way which includes negative contractions. Especially for down hills / stairs, mostly negative contractions.
interestingly enough, according to Arthur jones (nautilus) negative contractions are the ones that cause the most strength / muscle gains
Most people experience this to some extent. I think the solution is to not start out with a big downhill hike but build up to it slowly. The going up part is easy as it uses the same muscles as cycling so you have plenty of capacity to get up but then are stuck having to go down using seldom used muscles with eccentric contractions.
I was at Whistler a few weeks ago and decided to hike 1200m up the ski hill. Fortunately, I was able to take the chairlifts down so I saved my legs. If I would have walked down I'd have been very sore the next day.
The other thing that helps going down is some walking poles.
Here are some of my experiences and opinions on this, I really hope we can find a solution or some sort of answer as to what we have.
I am a 16 year old competitive cyclist struggling with this problem for 1.5 years now. I train a lot and have the exact same symptoms as many of you. I get excruciating upper leg pain whilst either running, walking downhill, walking downstairs but also during cycling sometimes. The pain may start in one leg in one area and then seems to spread throughout all the muscles in the upper leg. I'd like to clarify that they are not cramps, but the onset is like cramps: gradual and then it escalates really quickly. I always feel that just before the pain sensation comes I can sense that it is going to come. The pain is as if your muscles are being torn apart and the pain makes me feel unwell.
In my experience the episodes of pain seem to come relatively randomly. I have had periods of 2 weeks where i couldn't walk from class to class without almost having to cry from the pain and periods where I could run without problem. But some patterns I have noticed are that the pain is more likely to come if I haven't eaten "normally/properly/well" and if I do something early in the morning before breakfast.
I truly think this problem is not cycling specific because otherwise many many more cyclists would have the same problem. I also already had similar pain sensations before I started cycling it just got worse once I started cycling. Therefore I think its a neurological problem that we already have and then the symptoms come because we cycle a lot.
I've had many blood tests, tests to see how my body reacts to exercise to see if my metabolism is normal and have had EMG tests. They found nothing abnormal, except that I had abnormally high ck values in my blood. But they couldn't understand how this related to the symptoms I felt.
I think none of the solutions I have read on the forum actually help. i don't think the problem has anything to do with the difference in movement of cycling and walking downstairs for example because otherwise as I said before many more cyclists would have these symptoms. Stretching hasn't helped me, cross training hasnt helped, supplements like magnesium havent helped and rest from cycling surprisingly also hasn't helped. The only thing that helps is not running, walking downhill or downstairs.
Has anyone had any progress in diagnosis, or found any new solutions? Maybe we should ask around if anyone has similar symptoms on a non-cycling forum.
Welcome to bike forums! Sorry to hear of your problems. This thread seems to get resurrected every year or two. Since your problem is a bit different than the original topic, and isn't related to commuting specifically I suggest you start a thread in a more appropriate sub-forum like road cycling or training and nutrition. You can see a list of all subforums on the main bikeforums.com page. Hope you find answers.
Originally Posted by berendm
But, while you're here...
Since you're 16 and probably still growing, I wonder if your intermittent pain is related to your muscles being stressed by growth spurts in the femur etc, but that may be completely wrong.
Also my understanding is that CK is a sign of stressed muscles, but it still doesn't explain why they are stressed.