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Old 04-23-11, 12:25 AM   #1
shyonelung 
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Another Sore Knees Cycling Thread

So I've been back on my bike a little more than 2 months now after years away. I've gone about 500 miles since the middle of February. Started on flats and now onto rolling hills with some relatively small climbs -- and one medium long one. I'm riding a converted 24-speed mountain bike, with slicks and new Speedplay clipless. My LBS has helped me adjust the fit of my bike (we ended up raising my seat a lot) and I'm having a blast.

I'm considering changing the chain ring as I've noticed I'm using the lower set of gears less and less. I experience zero problems on the bike except for some of the usual aches and pains of getting back into working out and riding regularly. Tuesday I did a fairly easy 15-mile ride with a couple of friends and we pretty much took it slow -- it was them not me. I wanted to go out harder though so on a few hills, I pedaled out ahead, tried to keep my gears high so I could get some burn in. I've felt stronger with each ride so I figured it was just a natural progression.

Only that night, my knees were barking at me all night. The pain is on the top of the knee and it's a dull ache as opposed to a sharp pain. More annoying than anything else. I took a couple of days off and in talking to a couple of veteran cyclists, was told to do more "spinning" on my rides so as not to stress my knees so much.

I did that on my ride tonight, deliberately sticking to the lowest gears for the most part and letting my legs spin and my knees warm into the ride. No pain during the ride but I'm noticing now (5 hours later) that the front of the knee pain (on the kneecap not above or below) is back again. Normally I would have iced them immediately after but I had to go out right away and didn't have a chance.

My questions: any thoughts on this and/or what I might be doing wrong? I'm starting to do more off-the-bike leg exercises to strengthen the muscles in my hips and knees but should I do more? Do any of you suggest specific exercises or stretches? And do you suggest I rest for longer than a couple of days (I'm averaging about 70-90 miles a week depending on the weather)?

I want to work up to longer and longer rides and bigger hills but I don't want to screw up and put myself on the shelf -- especially this time of year. I'm probably being overly cautious as there's no pain during my rides but I'm so addicted to cycling now, that I'm afraid I'm going to do something to screw it up.

Thanks in advance. I'm such a noob.
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Old 04-23-11, 03:28 AM   #2
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First, check this site: http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm It has some good information about knee pain.


"I wanted to go out harder though so on a few hills, I pedaled out ahead, tried to keep my gears high so I could get some burn in. I've felt stronger with each ride so I figured it was just a natural progression. ... Only that night, my knees were barking at me all night. The pain is on the top of the knee and it's a dull ache as opposed to a sharp pain."

This indicates to me that you took the hill in a gear that was too hard and too soon in your development as a cyclist. At the best, it will be just muscle strain and you'll be fine in no time. At the worst, it will be a case of quadrecep tendonitis which will take months to heal.

Whichever it is ... if you ride .... spin, spin, spin. And you may want to avoid climbing hills for a couple weeks.
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Old 04-23-11, 08:32 AM   #3
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One more idea: you might need a crankset with shorter pedal arms. Around the 56cm/58cm frame sizes most manufacturers change cranksets from 170mm to 175 mm. When I switched from 175's to 170's the occasional pain I had disappeared. It seems the 175's were causing me to 'over-rotate' and stressing my knees. The shorter pedal arms see to have corrected that and the pain has disappeared, even after doing rides where I'm going up and down hills.
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Old 04-23-11, 03:34 PM   #4
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You've only been back riding for two months so might be overdoing it a bit so make sure you're not increasing your distance and/or effort on these rides too quickly. If your knees got to the point of barking you might have to take it easy for a few weeks; keep a decent cadence and avoid that burning feeling. Don't worry about keeping up with others. You'll hopefully be as good as new in no time.
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Old 04-23-11, 09:22 PM   #5
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Check you seat post, it may have started to slip a bit. I found my ideal distance by measuring from the center of the crank to the top of the seat. I wrote it down, when i checked it after a while it had slipped slowly about 1 inch. Thats when the top of my knees started to hurt and ache. Once i put it back up my pain in my knees went away. I put a small piece of tape at the bottom of the seat post where it goes into the frame, if it starts to slip again the tape will reveal it. So far it has stayed the same. I still check every so often just to make sure it stays there.
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Old 04-23-11, 10:26 PM   #6
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All great advice. Thank you SO much. I went out today -- it was a long ride but I kept the cadence up and the gear low. I went MUCH slower than normal (everyone else on the road today passed me :-() but I kept on going and conquered a new route in the process. My knees feel good. I'll probably rest a day or so (it's supposed to rain tomorrow here anyway) and then get out there again. I'm going to take it easy as I go -- that feels like smart advice.

LAriverRat: I checked my seat height and it's the right height (I marked it with tape because I sometimes put it in my back of my car and have to drop the seat to fit it). But I'll keep an eye on it.

Surfrider - I'll check my cranks for sure. I'm getting some work done on my bike this week and I'll ask the mechanic at my LBS what he thinks. Thanks!
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Old 04-24-11, 11:47 AM   #7
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Installing a pair of "Kneesavers" will take care of a lot of the causes of knee pain while doing no harm whatsoever to you or bike.

http://www.kneesaver.net/
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