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Old 08-15-12, 12:30 PM   #1
ditchbanker
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Knee pain from too small a frame?

I've been experiencing some pretty significant knee pain in the last couple of weeks. The obvious original source of the pain was trying new clipless peddles on my first mountain biking experience. Stop, fall, hit knee with handlebar.

I normally heal pretty quickly, but this one's taking a little longer than I thought. Local bike shop guy, who I knew before he opened his bike shop earlier this year and is generally a pretty good guy, thought that a part of the problem might be that my frame is way too small. It is. I know that, but I figured I can make due with it for what it is right now because, well, it's my only bike and I've really been enjoying riding to work and around town on the weekends. I know it would likely be better for healing if I didn't ride for a while, but I really wanted to ride, so I have been. However, I have a job that requires physical fitness and my consistent knee pain for the last couple weeks is making me nervous about riding. I have, for the last several days, avoided riding to let the knee heal. However, the knee pain (along with an unrelated shoulder injury) has me really gun shy about hurting myself. I'm not sure if I could be injuring my knee by riding a too small frame if I have the height of the saddle correct. Uncomfortable upper body position, sure, but knees I'm not sure about.

I may be worrying about nothing, but I want to avoid future injuries. I don't expect a full doctor's examination over the internet, just wondering if it sounds like the issue could be the particular bike. Also possible that my cleats aren't adjusted properly, I've just been over using my knee or, at the cusp of turning 30, that I might just be getting old.
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Old 08-15-12, 12:38 PM   #2
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If you have a really long seat post and the leg extension is right,
though the seat post is extended out , do you think it matters?

if there is insufficient post to get the seat up high enough, then that needs resolving.
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Old 08-15-12, 12:46 PM   #3
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I don't have a ton of seat post left, but I am getting my knees extended as far as I think I should. That's why I'm suspicious of what the shop says.
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Old 08-15-12, 12:53 PM   #4
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A frame that is short , seat tube can be fine if the top tube slopes Up a Lot.

Is there a long top tube? is it level or up-sloping?

On Top Of, turn the gears lightly, or always pushing a High one..

how about feet, are they free to change angle on the pedals?

seat post should span the top tube/ seat tube miter,..
about 6" in the frame
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Old 08-15-12, 01:17 PM   #5
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Top tube is level.

Re: "On Top Of, turn the gears lightly, or always pushing a High one.."

I'm not positive I know what you're saying. I try to peddle in a gear I can maintain a high speed in, if that is what you were saying.

My left peddle is pretty loose. Right peddle is not. Left knee has the problem.

Maybe just a hair over 6" of post in the frame.
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Old 08-15-12, 02:21 PM   #6
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I try to peddle in a gear I can maintain a high speed in, if that is what you were saying
your knees may suffer from a more ambitious pace you want for the bike, than is good for them.

drop a gear or 2, and spin more push less.
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Old 08-15-12, 03:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for the input. I'm glad to see that the problem isn't something that would require a new bike.
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Old 08-15-12, 06:30 PM   #8
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Get your seat height correct - either using common rules of thumb or having someone who knows how to do it advise you. If you can get the height correct without over extending the seat post, your frame is OK. If you cannot, your frame is too small and you'll eigher have to get a larger frame or a longer seat post.

Of all the things in cycling, my knees seem to be sensitive to even 1/2 cm too low on the saddle. If you switched shoes recently, the stack height of the new shoes could be enough to make your old saddle position incorrect. I know that the saddle height on my commuter (MTB shoes + SPD pedals) has to be about 1/2 cm higher than my road bike (road shoes + road pedals). Until I figured that out (I set them up identical at first), my knees would hurt when I rode my commuter, and the pain would go away when I rode my road bike.

Have you been doing anything for the knee pain? Regular icing? NSAIDs taken on a schedule for a few days to maximize effect (following dosage guidelines of course, but not skimping)? You need to do that stuff if you haven't. If you've tried that and still have it, might be time to have someone look at it.

Last edited by Camilo; 08-15-12 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 08-15-12, 09:13 PM   #9
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I hadn't considered the change in shoe*height. *I'll look into it.

I've been using RICE. *Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, along with minimal ibuprofin. *I'm giving it another week. *It's down to a dull ache, just don't want it to come back/get worse. *If it isn't mostly better next week I'll get it looked at. *
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Old 08-15-12, 10:05 PM   #10
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WWeird I just got a new bike and my lleft knee has been killing me. Ive been messing with my cleats trying to find a comfortable position. It always amazing mme what 1cm adjustments can ddo on a bike. I'm also afraid my frame is a bit small as my knees almost hit the handlebars or closer atleast than my old bike.


Are you over training? Sometimes multiple rest days in a row are a cure all for what ails me.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:49 PM   #11
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I doubt over training is the problem. For the last couple weeks I don't think I've done much more than commute. It's minimum of 4.5 miles each way, but 2 days last week I made the trip to work about 6-ish miles because I just felt like a longer ride. Because of my work schedule, I only commute 1-2 days a week. I did about a 10 mile trip to the store hauling my 3 year old in a trailer a couple weeks ago, but that's about the farthest I've gone in the last couple weeks. I'm wondering if I need to just give it a brake for a bit to let my body do what it does on its own. Between my knee and my shoulder, I am starting to go nuts and feel fat and lazy. I haven't had a really good workout in over a week and I hate the feeling. I'm going through withdraws.
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Old 08-16-12, 01:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ditchbanker View Post
I hadn't considered the change in shoe*height. *I'll look into it.

I've been using RICE. *Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, along with minimal ibuprofin. *I'm giving it another week. *It's down to a dull ache, just don't want it to come back/get worse. *If it isn't mostly better next week I'll get it looked at. *
Yea, shoes and pedals can make a significant change in saddle height, and saddle height is kind of a first thought for knee pain. Not the only thought, just a common and simple to solve cause.

Regarding the ibuprophen. This is just based on my own personal and professional experience, and you just have to determine your own use of this or any med. But I've found that really hitting it hard initially and keeping it up for several days (let's say 4-7) with an NSAID is important. Don't be casual or haphazard about it.

Follow the directions on the bottle for maximum dosage / day scheduling, etc., but take the first dose or two doubled (only the first dose or two - most dirctions allow this too), then take the med on its designated schedule for at least 3-4 days or more. Get that blood level up and keep it up for several days. Taking it minimally or when you think of it is not the effective way to do it, in my experience. Yea, thats how you take it for headache or temporary pain, but to knock down an injury inflamation and pain, you need to use it differently. I've had very good luck with this, and rarely take the med for more than 4 days, maybe 7 very occasionally. If more than 7, I usually think something needs to be seen by a pro.

I have some sporadic, recurring issues with my elbows due to an old injury so have some esperience with this, in addition to normal late 50-s occasional back pain, sore knees, etc.

Don't get me wrong: I don't use this stuff often or chronically, maybe two to four times per year. But when I have an injury, I use it like this, I don't mess around, and it works well.

I tend to use naproxin (i.e. Aleve) because it's an easier schedule (twice per day rather than 3-4), with ibuprophen being my second choice. Aspirin works very well, but the schedule requires more frequent dosing, therefore more room for compliance issues. Staying on the schedule keeps the blood level up which is key to effectiveness.

This is in addition to the icing. I'm not a big fan of compression at all and elevation probably isn't an issue unless there's swelling. For just knee pain, the regular icing, at least soon after the pain begins and for a few days, and serious NSAID usually really knocks it down - and you also need to figure out if it's a fit issue so you don't exacerbate it.

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Old 08-16-12, 11:45 PM   #13
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Thanks for the suggestion. I took a slightly different approach, but I think with similar effects. I'm keeping regularly dosed at the minimum level with ibu. But, I also have been taking, for the last 6 months or so, fish oil pills, which are also supposed to help with inflammation. I've also been icing and, somewhat compressing.

Good news is, it seems to be getting better. Today I managed to do a fairly light whole body elastic bands workout to get my muscles moving again. No pain, good start. Also, I decided to loosely wrap my knee with an ace bandage for the majority of my work shift. I work an 11.5 hour shift, have to wear about 25-30 lbs of gear and am often requiring quick changes from my knees, even a very slight amount of running today. I have never left a wrap on as long as I did today (about 9 hours), and was prepared to take off the wrap at the first signs of numbness or tingling. Never had to. I think, aside from very minor compression, it also gave just a little bit of stability. All I know is I'm feeling much better.

This is the time I typically exacerbate my injuries. When the pain decreases but the healing isn't over. I'm going to take it very easy for a few more days (even leave the bicycle at home tomorrow) and try to work back into it next week. My shoulder's also getting better. Between the lack of pain and the light workout today, I'm feeling much better mentally. Now I just need to not over do it.
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Old 08-17-12, 12:35 AM   #14
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I'm not a compulsive fitness person, but really like to get my 5-10 hours in per week of aerobic recreation. I hate rest, which is often called for with these little ortho injuries. That's why I've perfected (for me) fairly aggressive ways to treat minor knee and back issues. I learned it from my elbows - I seriously injured both about 30 years ago and for the next 15 years had regular over-use and other flare-ups. I finally learned that if I aggressively ice and dose with NSAIDs, it works pretty well. For a time, I even had a prescription 1/day NSAID which really worked well for me and taught me the value of keeping the blood level up without fail. Now I can achieve the same results with just a few days of naproxen or ibu.

Plus, I've really perfected avoiding injury and catching it waaay early - that really helps, feeling the first twinge, and it's learned through bitter experience. The older we get, the more protective we have to be.

Good luck, hope you've got it solved.
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Old 08-17-12, 08:24 AM   #15
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I'm glad you found something that works for you. I think the time off, mixed with everything else, has done good things for me. I appreciate your input. Don't think that, just because I'm not following it to the "T" I'm not keeping it in mind. Every body is different and I try to learn a little something from everyone I talk to.
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Old 08-21-12, 05:33 PM   #16
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I too have found that minor differences in saddle height, or shoe height, or pedal adjustments, can make a big difference in my knees. Not to say I know what ails you, just that in my experience a very small adjustment can sometimes be the difference between comfy and painful.
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Old 08-21-12, 06:30 PM   #17
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I've run into similar issues with a slipping seat post. It would move down a tiny bit and - instant knee pain. 1/2 cm does make a difference when it comes to having happy knees.
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