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Thread: Knees troubles

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    Knees troubles

    So I started biking again after so many years of physical inactivity. I started on October 7, and I tried to go a few times a day, for half an hour every time on a slow pace. My average speed is in the order of 7-9 mph. However, I started to have pain in my left knee, in a spot diagonally lower than the knee itself and to the outside. The pain happens especially when I raise my leg (similar to the activity of pedaling). I am having nightmares about this, since every time I tried to do any kind of brisk walking in the past, I ended up stopping because of the dreaded shin splint. I put ice on my knee after each time I ride the bike, and now I have it wrapped with a sport tape which helps some.

    I will probably have to go see an orthopedic doctor, but I wanted to get your reaction folks. Have you had any such pains? How did you have it managed? I pray that this would not be the end of my extremely short cycling activity since I have become really fond of this activity. Thanks.

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    Saddle too Low.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    So I started biking again after so many years of physical inactivity. I started on October 7, and I tried to go a few times a day, for half an hour every time on a slow pace. My average speed is in the order of 7-9 mph. However, I started to have pain in my left knee, in a spot diagonally lower than the knee itself and to the outside. The pain happens especially when I raise my leg (similar to the activity of pedaling). I am having nightmares about this, since every time I tried to do any kind of brisk walking in the past, I ended up stopping because of the dreaded shin splint. I put ice on my knee after each time I ride the bike, and now I have it wrapped with a sport tape which helps some.

    I will probably have to go see an orthopedic doctor, but I wanted to get your reaction folks. Have you had any such pains? How did you have it managed? I pray that this would not be the end of my extremely short cycling activity since I have become really fond of this activity. Thanks.
    Better to see the ortho doctor NOW to get ahead of what sounds like an injured knee. Our advice is nice but it won't really solve the issue.
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    Thanks 10Wheels. I thought the saddle height was fine since the bike store guy fixed it for me, and when my feet is on the lowest pedal, my leg is almost fully extended. Also, isn't it strange that only the left knee that is bothering me? My right knee is perfectly fine! Many thanks.


    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Saddle too Low.

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    You need to stay in a low gear. Don't worry about cadence just yet, but keep the pedal pressure light. You need time to build up your leg and knee muscles. You can also have knee pain if your leg muscles are tight. There are numerous articles on stretching, but it is always a good idea to warm up first and not over stretch.

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    I am having nightmares about this, since every time I tried to do any kind of brisk walking in the past, I ended up stopping because of the dreaded shin splint.
    Here's some advice from an old distance runner on how to prevent shin splints. Most of the muscles in the human body are arranged in opposing pairs (think biceps/triceps). Problems can occur when one set of the opposing pair becomes much stronger than the other, creating an imbalance. Shin splints are caused when the muscles which push off when you step become much stronger than the muscles which pull up. You can prevent shin spints by sitting on an elevated surface (I used to use an old, sturdy, metal kitchen table which had been relegated to the basement), hanging a bucket filled with a light barbell or dumbell plate (say 2.5 lbs or 5 lbs) from the tip of your toes, and doing repeats of lifting the weight up, pivoting at your ankle. In other words, you are doing the opposite of the pushing-off motion you do thousands of times as you run or walk during your daily exercise regimen.

    I've been very fortunate in my bicycling in that I have largely avoided any sort of knee problems. When I first started cycling last year, my saddle was slightly too far back. Most of the time, I found myself almost unconsciously scooting forward just a little to compensate--this prevented knee problems but caused some saddle soreness. When I consciously kept my sit bones positioned over the proper part of the saddle, I sometimes started have very minor pain in my knees. So, I started adjusting my saddle forward in very small increments until I solved both issues.

    Gee--there are so many ways in which one's fit may be off which could cause knee problems. Your saddle may be too high, it may be too low, it may be too far forward, it may be too far back. Are you using clipless pedals? If so, maybe the toe-in/toe-out angle needs adjusting.

    If you have a lot of patience, you can solve this on your own by making one small adjustment at a time, riding on it for a while, and seeing if the problem improves. If you want to speed up the process, take your bike back to the shop where you bought it and describe the problem to them. Finally, you may want to consider getting a professional "bike fitting".

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    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Umm, you say the pain is not actually in the knee but "in a spot diagonally lower than the knee itself and to the outside"

    I think we have all become somewhat conditioned, when we hear 'knee' and 'pain' in the same sentence to think surgery or some other nasty procedure...

    I'm thinking it could be caused by a myriad of things:
    -- bad position on the bike
    -- overly tight muscles & tendons
    -- something else...

    Like others, I would suggest taking it slow (both in terms of speed and distance) until you have this worked out. Also, start daily stretching and progress slowly to more aggressive stretches...

    And, pay another visit to your bike shop and see if they have any suggestions. Also, talk to your doctor. I am quite sure he will be very happy to hear that you are cycling -- and he may be willing to prescribe PT if the pain is interfering with your newly health lifestyle...

    But, I think it is promising that you have not had knee problems before (because you didn't mention it and instead worry about shin splints)

    But, I am a staunch advocate of stretching... I see some of these elederly people waddling around and wonder what they would have looked like if they had kept their muscles and tendons loose. The trouble is: the tighter you get as you age the less you can do -- so the tighter you get. It's a vicious circle.
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

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    Thanks Banded. Actually, I find that I have the tendency to scoot back in the seat, so I guess that may mean that the seat is too much forward? I can definitely try to do a professional fit, which is only done at a few bike stores nearby, except that I think they have you bike for like an hour non-stop while they do those measurements and fixings. Since I can only bike for 15 minutes at a time or so, and for a maximum time of 30 minutes, that may prove difficult, but will check.

    Quote Originally Posted by Banded Krait View Post
    Here's some advice from an old distance runner on how to prevent shin splints. Most of the muscles in the human body are arranged in opposing pairs (think biceps/triceps). Problems can occur when one set of the opposing pair becomes much stronger than the other, creating an imbalance. Shin splints are caused when the muscles which push off when you step become much stronger than the muscles which pull up. You can prevent shin spints by sitting on an elevated surface (I used to use an old, sturdy, metal kitchen table which had been relegated to the basement), hanging a bucket filled with a light barbell or dumbell plate (say 2.5 lbs or 5 lbs) from the tip of your toes, and doing repeats of lifting the weight up, pivoting at your ankle. In other words, you are doing the opposite of the pushing-off motion you do thousands of times as you run or walk during your daily exercise regimen.

    I've been very fortunate in my bicycling in that I have largely avoided any sort of knee problems. When I first started cycling last year, my saddle was slightly too far back. Most of the time, I found myself almost unconsciously scooting forward just a little to compensate--this prevented knee problems but caused some saddle soreness. When I consciously kept my sit bones positioned over the proper part of the saddle, I sometimes started have very minor pain in my knees. So, I started adjusting my saddle forward in very small increments until I solved both issues.

    Gee--there are so many ways in which one's fit may be off which could cause knee problems. Your saddle may be too high, it may be too low, it may be too far forward, it may be too far back. Are you using clipless pedals? If so, maybe the toe-in/toe-out angle needs adjusting.

    If you have a lot of patience, you can solve this on your own by making one small adjustment at a time, riding on it for a while, and seeing if the problem improves. If you want to speed up the process, take your bike back to the shop where you bought it and describe the problem to them. Finally, you may want to consider getting a professional "bike fitting".

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    I'm almost 63, and have a wonky knee also. Pain is pretty much where you say that yours is. My diagnosis was mild osteoarthritis. My orthopod gave me a wedge to put on the inside of my heel, to help tilt my ankle a bit towards the outside when walking. Regular doses of Ibuprofen also help.
    I forced myself to stay in a lower gear than I would normally be in, spinning more than I would normally, and of course, taking it easy. After six months or more of this, my leg muscles strengthened and my bad knee now only complains to me when I walk and not when I ride.
    I hope you solve your issues - just be patient with it. Do have a talk with an orthopedist or two. Try adjusting your seat a bit too. But most definitely, shifting to a lower gear takes the force off of your knee.
    ps. don't worry about your speed!
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    Thanks George. Yes, this is correct, I have not had a knee problem before when I tried to do some brisk walk either outside or on the tread mill, only shin splint ON THE LEFT LEG AS WELL! Since I have had multiple back surgeries over the years, it doesn't take much to throw me in a spiral of back and leg pains, but the knees have survived, at least until now.

    And yes, the pain is not in the knee cap, but it the part outside and lower of it. Not sure if this is a tendon, ligament, or bone. I go to a PT for my back, so I will ask him if he can check that part as well. I will also start to stretch, which I didn't do before cycling.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    Umm, you say the pain is not actually in the knee but "in a spot diagonally lower than the knee itself and to the outside"

    I think we have all become somewhat conditioned, when we hear 'knee' and 'pain' in the same sentence to think surgery or some other nasty procedure...

    I'm thinking it could be caused by a myriad of things:
    -- bad position on the bike
    -- overly tight muscles & tendons
    -- something else...

    Like others, I would suggest taking it slow (both in terms of speed and distance) until you have this worked out. Also, start daily stretching and progress slowly to more aggressive stretches...

    And, pay another visit to your bike shop and see if they have any suggestions. Also, talk to your doctor. I am quite sure he will be very happy to hear that you are cycling -- and he may be willing to prescribe PT if the pain is interfering with your newly health lifestyle...

    But, I think it is promising that you have not had knee problems before (because you didn't mention it and instead worry about shin splints)

    But, I am a staunch advocate of stretching... I see some of these elederly people waddling around and wonder what they would have looked like if they had kept their muscles and tendons loose. The trouble is: the tighter you get as you age the less you can do -- so the tighter you get. It's a vicious circle.

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    Thanks Cranky. I usually go on the lowest gear on my bike. I have even posted that I find that to be still challenging, and was suggested by other folks in the group to change the cassette to have a granny gear. That was one of the thing I wanted to chat with my bike store about, as well as adjusting the seat. My only concern is that I may be forced to stop cycling until the pain goes away, which would disrupt my newly found routine/passion which would be too bad. But I will keep he hope.

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    Sounds like you rode for awhile with no knee pain and this developed.Plus your riding a few times a day.How about we ride once a day for a half hour and build up to 45 min then an hour.Take 2-3 days off a week and rest the knee and see what happens.I bought a knee brace at the drug store,it helps a little. My knee pain is from a motorcycle accident..My friend takes glucosamine for his knees,he claims it works.I never used it.Most guys say their knee problems are from junk under the knee cap or a tear.both need to be corrected by a doctor.Good Luck

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    Thanks Shamrock. I only ride one time in any give day, and I don't ride every day. Each time is 15 minutes, take a 5-10 minute rest, then back home 15 more minutes. Perhaps this is still too much due to my extreme low conditioning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shamrock View Post
    Sounds like you rode for awhile with no knee pain and this developed.Plus your riding a few times a day.How about we ride once a day for a half hour and build up to 45 min then an hour.Take 2-3 days off a week and rest the knee and see what happens.I bought a knee brace at the drug store,it helps a little. My knee pain is from a motorcycle accident..My friend takes glucosamine for his knees,he claims it works.I never used it.Most guys say their knee problems are from junk under the knee cap or a tear.both need to be corrected by a doctor.Good Luck

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    People need to get use to the fact that starting a New exercise program is going to cause some physical pain. The trick is knowing what's reasonable, and what's an injury. I started riding in may. I rode all summer. My knees hurt often. I adjusted my saddle and clears a bit and it helped, but mostly I kept riding. My knees don't hurt at all now.

    ifound in my case that my knees hurt on climbs, but if I kept going they stopped. I also focused on keeping my feet aligned with the frame and that made a world of difference.

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    and I tried to go a few times a day, for half an hour every time on a slow pace
    That's your problem. Try once every two days for half an hour. Unless you're a youngster I'd say you're over doing it. Even when you get fit you'll probably only want to exercise once a day. You're not a machine!

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    There was an error in my original post. I meant that I go a few times "a week", only once in any give day for half an hour.

    Quote Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
    That's your problem. Try once every two days for half an hour. Unless you're a youngster I'd say you're over doing it. Even when you get fit you'll probably only want to exercise once a day. You're not a machine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    So I started biking again after so many years of physical inactivity. I started on October 7, and I tried to go a few times a day, for half an hour every time on a slow pace. My average speed is in the order of 7-9 mph. However, I started to have pain in my left knee, in a spot diagonally lower than the knee itself and to the outside. The pain happens especially when I raise my leg (similar to the activity of pedaling). I am having nightmares about this, since every time I tried to do any kind of brisk walking in the past, I ended up stopping because of the dreaded shin splint. I put ice on my knee after each time I ride the bike, and now I have it wrapped with a sport tape which helps some.

    I will probably have to go see an orthopedic doctor, but I wanted to get your reaction folks. Have you had any such pains? How did you have it managed? I pray that this would not be the end of my extremely short cycling activity since I have become really fond of this activity. Thanks.
    I just got an email from Harvard Med School that sounds very relavent to this:

    Taming tendinitis in the knee
    Tendons are the bands of fibrous tissue that attach muscle to bone. Tendinitis — tendon inflammation — is often a repetitive strain injury. You get it by repeating the same motion over and over, which irritates the tendon. Joints commonly affected by tendinitis include the elbow, heel, and wrist.

    Weekend warriors (folks who engage in high-intensity activities such as running or basketball on the weekend but do little to maintain conditioning during the week) often develop tendinitis in the knees. Simply being overweight can also contribute to knee tendinitis. Age is another risk factor. Over time, tendons become less flexible and the involved muscles lose strength, both of which further stress the tendons. Inflexible hamstring and quadricep muscles make you more susceptible as well.
    Symptoms of tendinitis of the knee include:
    pain above or below the kneecap
    swelling
    pain that recurs with particular activities and eases with rest
    in severe cases, pain becomes constant (in spite of resting the joint) and can even disrupt sleep.

    Here are some simple steps you can take to quell tendinitis pain. At the first sign of trouble:
    limit activities that put stress on your knees
    apply ice
    use over-the-counter pain relievers, ideally aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen
    use a knee support.

    Once the pain and any swelling are gone, try easing back into your normal activities and hold off on more demanding athletic activities for a few weeks. Typically, tendinitis goes away in a few weeks or months. Your doctor may recommend extra treatments for particularly stubborn cases.

    To keep tendinitis from coming back, ask your doctor about exercises to improve flexibility and address and muscle imbalances that may be placing stress on your knees.

    For more information on recognizing and treating knee tendinitis as well as ligament issues, tissue tears, osteoarthritis and other knee conditions, purchase Knees and Hips from Harvard Medical School.
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

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    That is very interesting George. Many thanks for sharing.

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