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  1. #1
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    Knee pain, even when "standing"

    Hi all,

    So I understand that pain in the knees is usually due to a too-low or too-high seat, and with some fiddling I confirmed this. However, this happens to me even if I am really pushing myself by riding on a high gear (let's say, 3-5 out of a max 3-7), requiring me to stand to really get gravity and leverage involved -- my knees give out long, long before my quads/calves do. What am I doing wrong? I love to push myself as hard as I can, but maybe doing that somehow has the same effect as sitting down with improper seat height.

    Could it be handlebar height? If they are too low, would the knee thing happen?

    Thanks
    Let me know if you require more info. I am riding an admittedly crappy mountain bike, but all my biking is on pavement at the moment.

  2. #2
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
    Hi all,

    So I understand that pain in the knees is usually due to a too-low or too-high seat, and with some fiddling I confirmed this. However, this happens to me even if I am really pushing myself by riding on a high gear (let's say, 3-5 out of a max 3-7), requiring me to stand to really get gravity and leverage involved -- my knees give out long, long before my quads/calves do. What am I doing wrong? I love to push myself as hard as I can, but maybe doing that somehow has the same effect as sitting down with improper seat height.

    Could it be handlebar height? If they are too low, would the knee thing happen?

    Thanks
    Let me know if you require more info. I am riding an admittedly crappy mountain bike, but all my biking is on pavement at the moment.
    Do you give time for your knees to recover in between rides? A proper fit wont necessarily be the answer for the pain and you probably wont know the difference until the knees are healed up.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

    '85 Trek 460 road racer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
    Hi all,

    So I understand that pain in the knees is usually due to a too-low or too-high seat, and with some fiddling I confirmed this. However, this happens to me even if I am really pushing myself by riding on a high gear (let's say, 3-5 out of a max 3-7), requiring me to stand to really get gravity and leverage involved -- my knees give out long, long before my quads/calves do. What am I doing wrong? I love to push myself as hard as I can, but maybe doing that somehow has the same effect as sitting down with improper seat height.

    Could it be handlebar height? If they are too low, would the knee thing happen?

    Thanks
    Let me know if you require more info. I am riding an admittedly crappy mountain bike, but all my biking is on pavement at the moment.
    See section in bold above.
    Standing up and mashing is bad for your knees. try using a lower gear and spinning more often, goal being to accelerate wthout ever having to get out of the saddle. see if your knees are recovered after a week of that.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    If you want to be nice to your knees, don't push too big a gear. Certainly don't push too big a gear when standing. Lower gears with higher cadences are kind to knees. And when standing, choose a gear that allows you to stay on top of it, so you have the speed to get through the dead spot at the top of your pedal stroke before applying too much pressure. You want to feel as if you're dancing on the pedals.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    My knees are in pretty good condition but I do get a slight pain or discomfort in one knee on the inside which suggests a lateral issue not related to saddle height. My solution is do maintain good knee strength through exercise. I have a series of exercises I do which provide immediate benefit. When my bad knee begins to complain, I step up the exercises. http://www.bigkneepain.com/knee-exer...eningexercises The link shows some exercises but there are scores of videos that would work just as well.

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    Knee pain could be a lot of things and if your knees react to exercise with pain, stepping up on the very same exercise is most likely counterproductive. It would be best to see a doctor.

    Mountain bikes aren't really designed to ride on pavement, if they were they wouldn't be called mountain bikes and they wouldn't have knobby tires. The frame geometry and rider's body position will also be influenced by the bike's design, which may affect your knees. Additionally, your current bike may not be the right frame size, which could affect your knees, regardless of seat height.

    The main problem, however, is probably with your knees. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many commuters riding mountain bikes five days a week without any knee problems whatsoever.
    Last edited by MadCityCyclist; 06-18-12 at 09:37 PM.

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    Super Newbie Shawn Gossman's Avatar
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    I have arthritis in my knees, especially the left one. I have been taking 2 glucosamene(sp?) vitamins (each day) for a while now and it really seems to help out a lot. I am not sure if it would help you but I figured I would suggest it anyways There is also a good herbal solution if your interested? It works good for the arthritis and joint pain as well...
    Tour de Shawn - My Neglected Personal Cycling Blog

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    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    +1 on using too high of a gear. You're not getting stronger, you're just injuring yourself. Learn to spin.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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    Thanks everyone for your responses and feedback. That was fast!


    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    +1 on using too high of a gear. You're not getting stronger, you're just injuring yourself. Learn to spin.
    Please forgive my ignorance, but I do not know exactly what that means. I've biked off and on during my childhood and again recently (I'm 27) but I've never been any kind of hobbyist or enthusiast -- for example I had no idea the seat was called a "saddle" until about two years ago. My hobbies consist more of things like drawing and programming. Actually I'm probably the bicyclist's equivalent of that annoying guy that asks if the computer has to be turned on for it to work.

    Perhaps there is a "Lingo For Newbies" or "What Not To Do" sticky here?
    Last edited by Sduibek; 06-19-12 at 06:05 AM.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
    Thanks everyone for your responses and feedback. That was fast!


    Please forgive my ignorance, but I do not know exactly what that means. I've biked off and on during my childhood and again recently (I'm 27) but I've never been any kind of hobbyist or enthusiast -- for example I had no idea the seat was called a "saddle" until about two years ago. My hobbies consist more of things like drawing and programming. Actually I'm probably the bicyclist's equivalent of that annoying guy that asks if the computer has to be turned on for it to work.

    Perhaps there is a "Lingo For Newbies" or "What Not To Do" sticky here?
    Spinning means spinning the pedals at a high cadence - that is, at a high number of revs per minute. What that means in practice is selecting a lower gear than you are currently using for a given speed, and pedalling faster while exerting less pressure on each pedal stroke. When going along on the flat, you should feel that you are barely pressing down on the pedals at all.

    This has big advantages for your knees, which will be under much less stress. It also helps your leg muscles to get less tired, because you are turning cycling into an aerobic exercise rather than a strength workout. But you'll find that it makes you get out of breath faster, because it is harder on the cardiovascular system - there's an energy cost to just pedalling faster.

    This is why you'll typically see experienced racing cyclists using higher cadences than newbies. They have the aerobic fitness to spin for long periods, and by doing so they are saving their legs. Newbies, on the other hand, tend to lack that aerobic fitness, so they push bigger gears at lower cadences and tire out their legs - and their knees ache.

    Hope that helps...
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  11. #11
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    Your gears are there to provide mechanical advantage on hills (up and down) and on flats. On climbs, I shift when I start feeling a change in stress on the knees; as the climb continues or gets harder, I look for more help from the gears.

    Spinning is simply riding with a gear choice that results in pedal rotations of around 80-90 per minute when not climbing. This cadence provides good conditioning with minimal stress on the knees. It takes some practice to feel normal, but it works.

    Having chronic bad knees makes me very aware of the need for a technique that minimizes knee stress. I ride pain free when the gears are doing the heavy lifting. I never stand until the lowest gear just isn't enough to keep the wheels turning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Spinning means spinning the pedals at a high cadence - that is, at a high number of revs per minute. What that means in practice is selecting a lower gear than you are currently using for a given speed, and pedalling faster while exerting less pressure on each pedal stroke. When going along on the flat, you should feel that you are barely pressing down on the pedals at all.

    This has big advantages for your knees, which will be under much less stress. It also helps your leg muscles to get less tired, because you are turning cycling into an aerobic exercise rather than a strength workout. But you'll find that it makes you get out of breath faster, because it is harder on the cardiovascular system - there's an energy cost to just pedalling faster.

    This is why you'll typically see experienced racing cyclists using higher cadences than newbies. They have the aerobic fitness to spin for long periods, and by doing so they are saving their legs. Newbies, on the other hand, tend to lack that aerobic fitness, so they push bigger gears at lower cadences and tire out their legs - and their knees ache.

    Hope that helps...
    Well said.

  13. #13
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Yep, can't put it better than chasm54.

    Only thing I'd add is that 80-90 is a good general cadence, "spinning" can be 120 RPM or much higher -- riding a fixed-gear and trying to make more power smoothly when you're already spinning like mad is good practice.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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    So I've been working on the cadence approach and I noticed it's much less of a workout cardio-wise, although I did use my (muscle above the knee with an annoying name in Latin or whatever) more for sure; ended up sore in those muscles for like two days

    Anyway my point for this reply is I biked roughly 16 miles that day, and barely broke a sweat through most of it. Is this supposed to be the case? Other than commuting, my main reason for getting back into biking was to get in shape. And pushing myself as hard as I could on the highest gear I could sustain got me to a point with muscle and cardio I was happy with in three weeks' time -- I could actually feel the difference each day -- but I don't like this whole, bike-ten-miles-and-sweat-a-little stuff. I like it when workouts kick my ass and I can really feel both the pain and the progress.

    Ideas?

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    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
    Standing up and mashing is bad for your knees.
    IME, sitting and mashing is far worse. Not that you were suggesting that. I just thought it needed to be said. It's one of the reasons I pay little attention to my spin class instructors, who insist on high-resistance seated pedaling during some portion of nearly all their sessions.
    Craig in Indy

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    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
    So I've been working on the cadence approach and I noticed it's much less of a workout cardio-wise, although I did use my (muscle above the knee with an annoying name in Latin or whatever) more for sure; ended up sore in those muscles for like two days

    Anyway my point for this reply is I biked roughly 16 miles that day, and barely broke a sweat through most of it. Is this supposed to be the case? Other than commuting, my main reason for getting back into biking was to get in shape. And pushing myself as hard as I could on the highest gear I could sustain got me to a point with muscle and cardio I was happy with in three weeks' time -- I could actually feel the difference each day -- but I don't like this whole, bike-ten-miles-and-sweat-a-little stuff. I like it when workouts kick my ass and I can really feel both the pain and the progress.

    Ideas?
    Just ride more. You're on the right track now.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

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