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  1. #1
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    Pain above knees after riding...

    I've checked out a number of other posts on bikeforums re pain in knees. I understand that bike fit is very important. I've yet to measure my inseam and top tube and all that, but I'd like to know if anyone has a clue what specifically would be causing my pain.

    I'm 6'2, and my bike is anything but small, although, as I mentioned, I don't have the measurements yet. My rides are usually 10 miles each way. I always consciously try to spin fast in low gears, but lacking a cyclocomputer, I'm never really sure that I'm going at 90rpm or higher.

    The first area of pain is right above my knee cap, and to the side. I generally feel the pain near the end of the ride. I'm not very good at describing pain, but it every time I am surprised by it because it does not *feel* like normal pain. It sort of feels the way your calf muscle feels when you stretch it too far. After getting off the bike, the pain will continue for days, but it is different, it will now feel like a very sore nerve at that location, and it will generally hurt only if I touch it with my hand.

    The second area of pain is even weirder, it is around 9 inches higher than the top of my knee. So I guess that would be my quad? I can't recall feeling the pain on the bike, but after getting off the bike, it will randomly hit me; it's a very intense pain as if someone were pressing down on a bruise I had. After I feel it, if I touch that very small spot on my quad, it will hurt again, no matter how lightly I touch it, like there is some very bad bruise there.

    So, what is the most likely cause of these two different pains? My seat is high enough that I can only touch the ground with the ball of my foot. The seat post doesn't go any higher without going past the "do not pass" marking. The seat post is showing about 5 inches of itself, which people say is optimum with a bike that fits, I think.

    I read somewhere on bikeforums that you should not bend your knee at an angle below 90 degrees, as it would put undue strain on it, but that now seems ludicrous, as, at least on my bike, there is no way to pedal without having an acute angle between your heel and seat at some point in the motion. However, when pedalling in the air, I do notice that if my heals are always at an obtuse or right angle to my seat, the knee doesn't work so hard, and the strain goes all the way up to my thigh (which I hear is good).

    Btw, not to make this post any longer, but is it better on the knees to ride a recumbent bike, in general?
    Ride with the wind. See where you end up.

  2. #2
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    It could be any number of things, but I had similar pain and it ended up being my Ilio-tibial band. I may not have spelled that right, but you could probably find it on the 'net if you search for "IT band stretch." I had never heard of the darn things, but as it turns out, mine are very tight and give my lots of trouble. When I stretch them, I feel much better. Make sure that you are stretching your quads well too.

  3. #3
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    Originally posted by joelr
    I've checked out a number of other posts on bikeforums re pain in knees. I understand that bike fit is very important. I've yet to measure my inseam and top tube and all that, but I'd like to know if anyone has a clue what specifically would be causing my pain.

    I'm 6'2, and my bike is anything but small, although, as I mentioned, I don't have the measurements yet. My rides are usually 10 miles each way. I always consciously try to spin fast in low gears, but lacking a cyclocomputer, I'm never really sure that I'm going at 90rpm or higher.

    The first area of pain is right above my knee cap, and to the side. I generally feel the pain near the end of the ride. I'm not very good at describing pain, but it every time I am surprised by it because it does not *feel* like normal pain. It sort of feels the way your calf muscle feels when you stretch it too far. After getting off the bike, the pain will continue for days, but it is different, it will now feel like a very sore nerve at that location, and it will generally hurt only if I touch it with my hand.

    The second area of pain is even weirder, it is around 9 inches higher than the top of my knee. So I guess that would be my quad? I can't recall feeling the pain on the bike, but after getting off the bike, it will randomly hit me; it's a very intense pain as if someone were pressing down on a bruise I had. After I feel it, if I touch that very small spot on my quad, it will hurt again, no matter how lightly I touch it, like there is some very bad bruise there.

    So, what is the most likely cause of these two different pains? My seat is high enough that I can only touch the ground with the ball of my foot. The seat post doesn't go any higher without going past the "do not pass" marking. The seat post is showing about 5 inches of itself, which people say is optimum with a bike that fits, I think.

    I read somewhere on bikeforums that you should not bend your knee at an angle below 90 degrees, as it would put undue strain on it, but that now seems ludicrous, as, at least on my bike, there is no way to pedal without having an acute angle between your heel and seat at some point in the motion. However, when pedalling in the air, I do notice that if my heals are always at an obtuse or right angle to my seat, the knee doesn't work so hard, and the strain goes all the way up to my thigh (which I hear is good).

    Btw, not to make this post any longer, but is it better on the knees to ride a recumbent bike, in general?
    I am not a doctor, but I'd say you're legs need some serious strengthening. Ten miles isn't much. My wife doesn't ride all the often, nor does she workout as often as she should. Consequently, she finds consistent pain resulting from her inconsistent work outs and rides.

    My bike is custom fit to me... A properly fit bike should keep ones feet flat though out the pedaling motion. Mine does. I can't say anything regarding recumbent cycling, expect that it is less likely to damage ones knees and I've tried it and didn't like it.

  4. #4
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Originally posted by joelr
    I always consciously try to spin fast in low gears, but lacking a cyclocomputer, I'm never really sure that I'm going at 90rpm or higher.
    Do you have a watch with a second hand? Count revs for 10 seconds, and multiply by 6 (or 6 seconds and multipy by 10... easier math ). A cadence of 90-100 is a good ball park. Maybe slower if you haven't been riding long. Spinning too fast is a potential source of knee discomfort. Spinning slow/mashing usually manifests itself as pain in the knee, so that definitely isn't the problem.

    The first area of pain is right above my knee cap, and to the side. I generally feel the pain near the end of the ride. I'm not very good at describing pain, but it every time I am surprised by it because it does not *feel* like normal pain. It sort of feels the way your calf muscle feels when you stretch it too far. After getting off the bike, the pain will continue for days, but it is different, it will now feel like a very sore nerve at that location, and it will generally hurt only if I touch it with my hand.

    The second area of pain is even weirder, it is around 9 inches higher than the top of my knee. So I guess that would be my quad? I can't recall feeling the pain on the bike, but after getting off the bike, it will randomly hit me; it's a very intense pain as if someone were pressing down on a bruise I had. After I feel it, if I touch that very small spot on my quad, it will hurt again, no matter how lightly I touch it, like there is some very bad bruise there.

    So, what is the most likely cause of these two different pains?
    I don't know, but they sure don't sound like normal muscular pain, to me. I would seriously consider seeing a doctor about it.

  5. #5
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    Are you using clipless pedals (ie with cleats that click lock in) ?

    If so - make real sure your knee is centered over the pedal properly. Search the forum for advice on how to measure, but the pain around your knee cap was similar to what I had when I moved my seat back too far. It was not far that I moved it - but it made a big difference.

    Spinning is great on the knees - if everything is lined up right. If not, then you will aggravate it more since you are doing so many reps of the aggravation.

  6. #6
    Oh God, He's back! 1oldRoadie's Avatar
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    RAISE YOUR SEATPOST.
    I can't ride and Frown!

  7. #7
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    I also had ITBs that were way too tight, causing me similar knee (generally around the kneecap) pain for many years. After going to a physical therapist, I was amazed at how easy it was to fix the problem just by stretching them out. She (and the doctor) said that stretching and strengthening all the various muscles around the knees the main thing that keeps the knee pain away.

    Regarding fit, i'm no expert, but make sure your legs are about 99% extended at 6:00 and your knee is no higher than your thigh at 12:00. If these aren't true, probably need to raise the seat.
    Mike

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    Senior Member roadrage's Avatar
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    It does sound like IT band syndrome. Does the pain at the knee hurt in front of or hurt behind the knee cap? If it hurts in front, raise the saddle, if it hurts behind, lower the saddle.

  9. #9
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    Saddle height should not be set by the reach to the ground, but by the reach to the pedals. A good starting point is that with your leg fully straightened, you should just be able to place your heel on the pedal when it is at its furthest point. Try riding with it at that height then change it by a few mm and see if there is any difference. Take a while before making a decision.

    If you need to put your saddle higher buy a longer seat post - just make sure you get the right diameter. It is written on the seatpost near the max extension warning - or you could take the post to the shop and ask for a longer one the same dia.

  10. #10
    Oh God, He's back! 1oldRoadie's Avatar
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    Originally posted by AndrewP
    ......If you need to put your saddle higher buy a longer seat post - just make sure you get the right diameter. It is written on the seatpost near the max extension warning - or you could take the post to the shop and ask for a longer one the same dia.
    If you need a longer seatpost than stock you need to get a bike that fits.
    I can't ride and Frown!

  11. #11
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    When I purchased my most recent bike I immediately took it out for a 20 miler. It was set up by the bike shop and I thought it was cool . Man did my knees hurt towards the end of the ride and 20 miles isn't that far. I began raising the seat .5 - 1 inch before the next few rides and it resolved my problem.
    I also agree that stretching helps and when I don't , I pay in the end.

  12. #12
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    Do check out your saddle height--either through measurements or the heal on the pedal at full extension (mentioned above). If you decide that the saddle height needs changing, do so in small increments, otherwise you'll cause pain in other places.

    Normally, I would recommend changing by 2-3 mm at a time. If you are way off, then you can probably go up or down by a centimeter. My saddle was off by about 2.5 cm a while back. I dropped it the full amount and ended up with pain in several different tendons. Being slow to adjust as tendons are wont to be, the pain was slow to go away.

    A Google search for IT Band Syndrome will definitely put you on the right track.

    Good luck,
    Jamie

  13. #13
    Senior Member timtheroadbiker's Avatar
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    Hey, I had the same problem. Do you have clipless pedals. And if not Try speedplays they work wonders.

  14. #14
    Oh God, He's back! 1oldRoadie's Avatar
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    Another knee problem can come from clipless pedals. If the cleat in the shoe is not aligned to the natural position of your feet they can cause big trouble.

    I was in a car wreck years ago and have one foot that kicks out about 15-20 degrees. If I do not adjust the cleat to get my foot where it natural belongs I can get some major pain.
    I can't ride and Frown!

  15. #15
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    Well, thanks guys. I got a bigger seat post, and raised it to where my heels just touch the pedals (1 inch higher than the previous seat post was). No more knee pain, not to mention the power...
    Ride with the wind. See where you end up.

  16. #16
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    As many times as I have read the recommendation, I finally got around to getting a taller post (other one was too short).

    Oh lordy - I went up prob 1/2 inch to 1 inch and the difference is AMAZING !!

    Its not just the knee issue, its the power increase, the smooth pedaling and increased cadence.

    Wow.

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