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.