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  1. #1
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    Side knee pain. is it my crank?

    Hello,

    I have been back into riding for about a year, and I have always had bad knees. However cycling was never a problem until a couple months ago. I am currently sitting here with knees that feel like watermelons, and to add to it, I am in between medical insurances, so a doctor/PT visit is still out of reach for a few weeks.

    During this time, I have decided to give myself rest and lots of ice and some yoga, while trying to figure out what the heck has happened in the last couple months.

    I am suspecting that it is my crank--an old TA-style crank that I thought would be a benefit, but now I am wondering if it has become the issue.

    I started back on bikes with a Specialized Allez Compact, which has a Shimano 105 crank. My kneecaps would be a little sore if I did some climbing, but that was always expected, and the pain would be gone within a few hours.

    The love of returning to cycling made me fix up my old '85 Trek 720 that had been sitting in the garage, and I put a Velo Orange "Grand Cru" 50.4bcd Crank on it. It steals the style off the old TA cranks, but I chose it due to it's availability in 175mm length (I'm tall) and performed well (once I put some TA chainrings on it that I scored on eBay).

    However, I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but my knees are now on fire, swollen behind, and feel extremely arthritic on the sides. I've always experienced pain in the kneecaps due to a series of dislocations I had as a teenager, but never on the side like this. I am afraid I might be grinding away my meniscus.

    Could I have mangled them with a q-factor that is too LOW? Many have claimed that the lower the q-factor, the better, but I measured myself in a comfortable standing position, and my stance seems to be about 2-3cm wider than the current configuration.

    Thanks for any input, I won't be going anywhere for a while and am appreciative of any tips. I would also love to know how I can measure what my ideal stance should be. I was thinking of picking up a couple cheap bottom-brackets in different spindle lengths to test, or to go with a modern crank, but any knowledge beforehand will help greatly and possibly prevent worse injury.

    -Court

  2. #2
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    I had knee problems especially when I got off and I either had springs in my legs after a 10 mile ride or cramps after 40 miles. Pain after the night. The problem is the fit of your bike but I don't think it's your crank. Your seat is probably too small or too big to fit and it make you twist your legs when you push down. You also have a height adjustment problem with your seat. Your legs are not extending enough causing pain to develop. Your bike might also be too small for you. I had a friend who had the same problems and a higher head stock fixed him.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. I do think it's time for a fitting. This bike is TALL, but there's plenty of headroom to go.

  4. #4
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    I just sat on the bike, the saddle height is ideal--any higher will cause hyperextension. It' a touring bike with a Brooks B-17 saddle, which could be wide, I have a racing saddle i'll put on for experimentation.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Oops. I'm replying in the wrong thread.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I'm usually the last one you should listen to about any physical condition.

    I'm thinking that's a symptom of periformis inflamation or strain. When I had that happen to me I bought an elastic wrap that looked like surgical tubeing at a drug store. It goes under the knee joint. For whatever it's worth, it worked for me.

  7. #7
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    Looiji, Iliotibial Band Syndrom actually does feel match symptoms in my right knee. And the exercises I looked up don't look harmful so I'm going to try them in the meantime anyways. So thanks for posting even though it was the wrong thread. It's worth reading about while I wait for my new insurance to kick in.

    I'll look up piriformis stress too. I think that's different, but looks like a pain I often get anyways. I have some straps I used for running that sound similar to the wrap you got from the drugstore, worth a try.

    I'm still suspect of the super-narrow crank I have, and am going to try a cheap BB with a longer spindle just to experiment. One of the symptoms I read when it comes to cycling is that its caused by excessive toe-in, and the narrow crank could very well be forcing me into that position. I'm 6'7" with a proportionately correct skeletal frame, so my hips could just be too wide for the spindle on here.

    I was able to really push it on my Allez with a 105 compact crank, but I'm in pain with a tiny granny-gear on my Trek. I'm thinking it's best to have the geometry in this case as close as possible to each other anyways.

    I think it's time to stay off the bike a few weeks while I figure this out. Now I just need to find a sports doctor who won't just say "dont do that" like my HMO doctor did. Thanks for the tips.

  8. #8
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    Dr Amol Saxena is a doctor who we (I work for a Chiropractor of the non-quack variety who is also a long distance cyclist, PM if you want details) refer various patients to when there appears to be an orthopedic issue that cannot be readily resolved by Chiropractic work. If your knees are hurting that bad, I'd personally forget about the old bike altogether. Being tall, you already put more wear and tear on your knees than someone of average height, and potentially crippling yourself to ride an old beater ain't worth it.

  9. #9
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    Thanks. My Trek 720 ain't no beater tho... 25.5"/65cm frame, Reynolds 531 tubing thru and thru, actually built in USA, fully upgraded components, long Randonneur-style wheelbase, hand-built wheels w/ Phil Wood hubs. Average price of a very-used 720 frame is $500-$1000 and continue to go up. If I wanted to go new, I'd have to pay over $2000 for a Rivendell or similar, which would provide me with essentially the same frame (explained in the next paragraph). I think I just made a mistake on the crank. The original crank was significantly wider.

    I am having a custom frame built as well, not for touring but for club rides, and the frame builder noted to me that the geometry is almost identical--to the point that he wanted to verify that I still wanted to have the frame built. The reason I went back to this bike, as well as choosing a custom, is because modern frames are so compact that I have so much seat post sticking out that it looks ridiculous, so I'm sticking with the classic diamond frame style. Most commercially available bikes don't even come in 65cm, and are then too short in their length, requiring me to find an extra-long stem.

    What I have to watch out for (since age 13) is twisting or hyper-extending the knee. Road cycling has never caused a problem. I never race, don't ride mountain bikes or cruisers, do lots of yoga, and the pain has only manifested upon purchasing this crank, so I'm still holding it as the prime suspect.

    I've stayed off the bike for 3 days, and today the pain in the left knee is already reducing. I think the right knee will require some help, but I am confident that it'll get better and i'll write this all off as a lesson learned. But I'll never get rid of the Trek!

    Apologies if i'm a little hypersensitive, but it's really about the frame's geometry that I keep it--it actually fits. The crank, however, is a knock-off from the 60s and I think is following a design philosophy that is now debatable, or only beneficial to a niche group.

  10. #10
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    Just wanted to post an update for the record... I picked up some pedal extenders which brought teh crank's Tread to a typical width of today's cranks, and it make a huge difference--felt much more natural. With a larger frame (both me and the bike), it's nice and proportionate. For the tendonitis, @Retro Grouch's tip with using patellar knee straps really works. I am not riding much right now, but I rode about 15 miles yesterday with no pain--significantly better than the few miles I was able to do before the knees blew up.

    I have also been going to Iyengar Yoga classes, which healed my lower back some time ago, and I find the Iyengar poses to be excellent for tendon work. I'll be focusing on that a few times a week while finding a good sports clinic, and take an east-meets-west approach. Thanks again for the tips.

  11. #11
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudhead View Post
    Hello,

    I have been back into riding for about a year, and I have always had bad knees. However cycling was never a problem until a couple months ago. I am currently sitting here with knees that feel like watermelons, and to add to it, I am in between medical insurances, so a doctor/PT visit is still out of reach for a few weeks.

    During this time, I have decided to give myself rest and lots of ice and some yoga, while trying to figure out what the heck has happened in the last couple months.

    I am suspecting that it is my crank--an old TA-style crank that I thought would be a benefit, but now I am wondering if it has become the issue.

    I started back on bikes with a Specialized Allez Compact, which has a Shimano 105 crank. My kneecaps would be a little sore if I did some climbing, but that was always expected, and the pain would be gone within a few hours.

    The love of returning to cycling made me fix up my old '85 Trek 720 that had been sitting in the garage, and I put a Velo Orange "Grand Cru" 50.4bcd Crank on it. It steals the style off the old TA cranks, but I chose it due to it's availability in 175mm length (I'm tall) and performed well (once I put some TA chainrings on it that I scored on eBay).

    However, I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but my knees are now on fire, swollen behind, and feel extremely arthritic on the sides. I've always experienced pain in the kneecaps due to a series of dislocations I had as a teenager, but never on the side like this. I am afraid I might be grinding away my meniscus.

    Could I have mangled them with a q-factor that is too LOW? Many have claimed that the lower the q-factor, the better, but I measured myself in a comfortable standing position, and my stance seems to be about 2-3cm wider than the current configuration.

    Thanks for any input, I won't be going anywhere for a while and am appreciative of any tips. I would also love to know how I can measure what my ideal stance should be. I was thinking of picking up a couple cheap bottom-brackets in different spindle lengths to test, or to go with a modern crank, but any knowledge beforehand will help greatly and possibly prevent worse injury.

    -Court
    A good choice to resolve your knee issues that works well.

    http://www.kneesaver.net/
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  12. #12
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    Yep, got some of those to test. They worked out great. Unfortunately I'm sustaining tendonitis from riding a couple hundred miles before I learned about them, so it's a matter of riding correctly (and lightly) while I wait for my tendons to heal. Thanks.

  13. #13
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudhead View Post
    Yep, got some of those to test. They worked out great. Unfortunately I'm sustaining tendonitis from riding a couple hundred miles before I learned about them, so it's a matter of riding correctly (and lightly) while I wait for my tendons to heal. Thanks.
    The knee savers will speed your healing process by positioning your feet/legs correctly. They don't cost that much so please consider them.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  14. #14
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    My suggestion go for doctor it will help in your future too happy cycling




    Quote Originally Posted by cloudhead View Post
    Hello,

    I have been back into riding for about a year, and I have always had bad knees. However cycling was never a problem until a couple months ago. I am currently sitting here with knees that feel like watermelons, and to add to it, I am in between medical insurances, so a doctor/PT visit is still out of reach for a few weeks.

    During this time, I have decided to give myself rest and lots of ice and some yoga, while trying to figure out what the heck has happened in the last couple months.

    I am suspecting that it is my crank--an old TA-style crank that I thought would be a benefit, but now I am wondering if it has become the issue.

    I started back on bikes with a Specialized Allez Compact, which has a Shimano 105 crank. My kneecaps would be a little sore if I did some climbing, but that was always expected, and the pain would be gone within a few hours.

    The love of returning to cycling made me fix up my old '85 Trek 720 that had been sitting in the garage, and I put a Velo Orange "Grand Cru" 50.4bcd Crank on it. It steals the style off the old TA cranks, but I chose it due to it's availability in 175mm length (I'm tall) and performed well (once I put some TA chainrings on it that I scored on eBay).

    However, I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but my knees are now on fire, swollen behind, and feel extremely arthritic on the sides. I've always experienced pain in the kneecaps due to a series of dislocations I had as a teenager, but never on the side like this. I am afraid I might be grinding away my meniscus.

    Could I have mangled them with a q-factor that is too LOW? Many have claimed that the lower the q-factor, the better, but I measured myself in a comfortable standing position, and my stance seems to be about 2-3cm wider than the current configuration.

    Thanks for any input, I won't be going anywhere for a while and am appreciative of any tips. I would also love to know how I can measure what my ideal stance should be. I was thinking of picking up a couple cheap bottom-brackets in different spindle lengths to test, or to go with a modern crank, but any knowledge beforehand will help greatly and possibly prevent worse injury.

    -Court

  15. #15
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    Yes I have an appointment at a Sports Clinic in a week now that my insurance has kicked in. I'll post the doctors opinion once I have gone.

  16. #16
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    Update: Turns out my problem is "chondrocalcinosis", or calcified meniscus, also known as "pseudogout" due to the way it feels and the similar effects. It's something that does require surgery, but is a degenerative problem and not an acute injury. What I loved hearing the most was the doctor telling me "We'll get you back on your bike!".

    That was what I really wanted to hear.

  17. #17
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    Try cycling without underwear. This will allow your crank to move around more.

  18. #18
    No fashion sense cyclist IR Baboon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
    Try cycling without underwear. This will allow your crank to move around more.
    Funniest thing I've heard in a month!

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