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.
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.
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.
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.
I am from switzerland, ambitious rider doing about 10k km per year, 45 years old and dealing with the problem for a long time. It comes up after 2-3 rest days from cycling. I have searched the the net a lot about this issue: there are other people dealing with this problem. i found the following link and recently found also this forum:
Extreme quadriceps starting pain after 3-4 rest days | Cyclingnews Forum
so far the cause for this is unknown. but basically it results in extremely high CK values (up to 20000 - normal 100-200). This means the muscle is terribly inflamed and temporarely damaged. why it only happens after restdays is a mystery.
there are several theories discusses:
-genetic defect which results in glycogen processing (Mc Ardle Disease)
-simple over training
different people believe that it is related to nutrition. Others encounter it only after strong workouts. Many person have been to many doctors without any results. The symptoms can be as strong that you collapse completely or need to be hospitalized. if the CK values get over 20K it can be dangerous. the symptoms seem to weaken after years of training.
what do the people to deal with it:
- DO NEVER STOP CYCLING -> people bought ergometers to cycle at home when the weather is bad.
- changing nutrition (this is a philosophy)
- adapt the cycling workouts -> do not train too hard
when it starts there are different methods for resetting:
- if you encounter it during cycling which might be the case already after 1 rest day -> NEVER use high gears, take the strong gears !!! Apply high pressure and pedal slowly and GO OVER the pain - ride for another 45 mins . the next day you are fine.
- other people do not ride anymore at all when it started. they say the risk is too high to damage the muscle resulting in dangerously high CK values. with this method you have to stop for 1-2 weeks because the symptoms peak after 5-6 days. the CK values then go down rapidly again from 1 day to the other- another mystery.
I still did not find any solution to the problem but riding every day. this is not always possible. i try the strong gears after 2-3 rest days; this can be sometimes extremely painful but it works.
I would be happy to know one day what is the cause of this disease, but probably not during my lifetime. Anyway it is good to know that you are not alone.
Quad Pain after Cycling
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