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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 01-28-08, 12:37 PM   #1
ImprezaDrvr
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Pain at back of leg, top of calf/right below knee

Got the new bike, overdid a bit, but have pain in a place I've never had it before. After climbing with some stronger guys and not keeping up, I've ended up with pain that was initially at the bottom of my hamstring near my knee but has settled in near the top of my calf. It's just to the outside of the middle of my leg. I've had some speculate that it is a strain at the spot where the hamstring attaches at its low point, but wonder if anyone can shed any light on it? There's no bruising or severe pain, so I'm pretty sure that a week off and ice and such will take care of it, but it's strange nonetheless and I'd like to hear from anyone that may be able to shed some light on it.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-28-08, 12:40 PM   #2
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HTFU?

Seriously, sounds like you just overdid it. Ive had pains in that general vicinity as well.. I usually just take 800mg of ibuprofen and keep on riding.

For pains like that that Im pretty sure are just strains, I try to work them out gently.. get on the bike and just spin around at recovery pace. If it gets worse, go to the doctor.

Rest works too.. Im just stubborn like that.
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Old 01-28-08, 12:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ImprezaDrvr View Post
Got the new bike, overdid a bit, but have pain in a place I've never had it before. After climbing with some stronger guys and not keeping up, I've ended up with pain that was initially at the bottom of my hamstring near my knee but has settled in near the top of my calf. It's just to the outside of the middle of my leg. I've had some speculate that it is a strain at the spot where the hamstring attaches at its low point, but wonder if anyone can shed any light on it? There's no bruising or severe pain, so I'm pretty sure that a week off and ice and such will take care of it, but it's strange nonetheless and I'd like to hear from anyone that may be able to shed some light on it.

Thanks in advance!
Had same issue in June. I was told it's strained IT band. I made sure cleats were aligned properly, raised seat, and stretched hams, calves, and quads thoroughly before every ride. Higher cadence on climbs keeps me from noticing as much.
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Old 01-28-08, 12:52 PM   #4
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The "new bike" part of your post is key. Unless your new bike is exactly set up like your other bike in terms of physical dimensions, you are subjecting to body (mostly legs) to alot of new/different stress. Take the time length of your ride multipled by your cadence and you'll quickly conclude your legs are subjected to thousands of movement actions. Then consider a new bike with maybe 1/2 degree difference in the seat tube angle, a saddle that is 1/2" in a difference location, crank arms that might have different lengths, a saddle that is slighly higher or lower from the bb than your currenet setup, etc. You atre subjecteing your body to things it isn't quite used to.

Take some time off until the pain subsides. Use the time to compare your two bikes and make any adjustments needed to the new setup. When you go back out, do some slow, easy rides and build up gradually and don't try to hang in with the stronger guys jsut yet.
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Old 01-28-08, 01:29 PM   #5
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Had same issue in June. I was told it's strained IT band. I made sure cleats were aligned properly, raised seat, and stretched hams, calves, and quads thoroughly before every ride. Higher cadence on climbs keeps me from noticing as much.
I play a doctor on TV and the IT band is above the knee on the front-outside of the leg. The OP said the pain is in the back of the leg below the hamstring and above the calf. I have this exact same injury and it has lasted for over a year and a half. It started one day when I went to hard to soon and has plagued me ever since. Be careful to let it heal before you have the same problem I have.
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Old 01-28-08, 02:28 PM   #6
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I'm still getting over a similar pain, although mine is more toward the center of the back of the knee. I've isolated mine to be calf-related, not hamstring, but it's triggered by either sometimes.

Anyway, I took an easy day to learn what made it hurt, and quickly discovered what motions and flexions to avoid, and it started getting better right away. Interestingly, higher cadence was much less comfortable than lower cadence.

It still comes back a little bit (it's been a month), but most of the time I don't have any pain for any motion. It hasn't hampered me at all though -- power numbers keep climbing.
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Old 01-28-08, 03:08 PM   #7
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I've had this too, at one time to the point where there was some bruising at the inside back of my knee. It has something to do with the muscles back there - it didn't act like a ligiment or tendon problem. It would come and go during a ride, and it would start out bad, and gradually get better as the ride progressed, provided I didn't aggravate it again - like a strained muscle. For me, it was probably hamstring related rather than calf related.

Two issues contribed when I had this (I found this from experimenting). One was a saddle which was too high/having a hamstring that wasn't flexible enough for the amount of leg extension I was using. The other was straining during hard efforts going up hills because my hamstrings would start pulling too early in the pedal stroke. Basically, pedalling square.

If this sounds similar to what you have, you might try lowering your saddle a smidge. I was adjusting things in 1/8 inch increments. If you lower the saddle too much, you'll get pain in front of your knee and underneath the kneecap which is ligament inflamation and is much more serious and potentially long term. The pain behind you knee will heal - it is likely muscular. Pain in front of your knee might be permanent if you ride with it for long - ligaments don't get much blood flow and so heal very slowly, and if damaged enough, not at all. Do toe touching exercises to increase the flexability of your hamstrings and work on pedaling in circles.

Disclaimer: I am an engineer and not a doctor - I don't even play one on TV. This is just my experience and if you really want to know what is going on under your skin, see your doctor. They might not be able to tell you how to adjust your bike to minimize the problem, but they'll be able to tell you what's wrong at the body level.
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Old 01-28-08, 03:44 PM   #8
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Had same problem.
Check your saddle position.

http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm
specifically:
http://www.cptips.com/pknee.htm

Had the same problem. Few weeks on the trainer and a lot of cleat adjustments and saddle adjustments until I found the problem. I had swapped saddles and seatpost from original and my position was way off.
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Old 01-28-08, 04:06 PM   #9
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^^^
That explains it to a "T".

Quote:
Treatment would include
  • a period of decreased training
  • addressing biomechanical factors (leg assymmetry)
  • adjusting your saddle down a few millimeters
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Old 01-28-08, 05:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac View Post
Had same problem.
Check your saddle position.

http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm
specifically:
http://www.cptips.com/pknee.htm

Had the same problem. Few weeks on the trainer and a lot of cleat adjustments and saddle adjustments until I found the problem. I had swapped saddles and seatpost from original and my position was way off.
+1 on the http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm link.
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Old 01-28-08, 08:51 PM   #11
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HTFU?
No - sometimes HTFU is not the appropriate response, especially to those of us who actually try to do that and end up getting hurt.

prolly better rest it a bit and then, if you don't do this, learn to spin more when you ride.....i did that last yr and ended up with bursitis/tendonitis in my right knee, that kept me off the bike for 2mo over teh summer and is a continually nagging problem....
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Old 01-28-08, 09:49 PM   #12
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Had same problem.
Check your saddle position.

http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm
specifically:
http://www.cptips.com/pknee.htm
+1

I had the same problem. I had to replace my seat, got the pains as you described. Made some adjustments before I saw the orthopedic, but he put his finger on it and confirmed it.

- most of my adjustments was moving the seat forward
- did lower it a tad
- readjusted my cleat a tad also.

I also have the other problem, runner's knee (running,skiing,basketball)
Which is what led me back to cycing.
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Old 01-29-08, 09:36 AM   #13
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I was the first to admit that I did too much and am resting it. It's much better now than it was on SUnday, which is a good sign, but I'm not riding a bit until at least Thursday and probably not until Saturday. I'm still taking a couple of ibuprofin and icing as well.

Thanks to all for the assistance. I'm going to ask my PT wife to check for leg length discrepancies, too. I've got shims in case I need them. I may also lower my saddle a bit until the legs are used to the new position. I don't want to jeopardize the season after putting in some decent winter hours up to now.
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Old 01-29-08, 10:35 AM   #14
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This pain is common to runners and unfortunately does not heal a rapidly as one thinks. It is common to reinjure this point by returning too soon. Sorry the following link is not an active one, so you will have to copy and past it into your browser.

http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cy...calfstrain.htm

Edit: there is some good information here although parts about heel pads are not really usefull for cycling.
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Old 01-29-08, 02:36 PM   #15
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Standing on tip-toes hasn't ever bothered it, so I'm leaning away from it being a strained calf at this point. The pain has always been the worst as my leg has gotten out in front of me as I walk and my hamstring slows my lower leg down.

But thanks for the suggestion, and thanks again to everyone for their advice and links. Like I said up front, I know that I overdid it with the new fit. But I also know that the new fit is more comfortable. Saddle is higher and further forward. I usually pulled myself forward before anyway. The height is probably a bit much, but again, it could be a leg length problem. I'll lower the saddle a bit and take it easier until I'm used to the position, then get up to where it is now. In short, I fully realize that it was too much, too soon with a new fit, but I was curious about others' experience with this pain as i've had lots of knee pains over the years but nothing like this until now.
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Old 01-30-08, 01:08 AM   #16
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Had same issue in June. I was told it's strained IT band. I made sure cleats were aligned properly, raised seat, and stretched hams, calves, and quads thoroughly before every ride. Higher cadence on climbs keeps me from noticing as much.

Thought IT band pain was on the side of the knee? Anyway my take it is just overwork of muscle groups from a new riding position. Also although the standard advice is ice and rest there is a camp that says you will recover faster if you start riding at a really light pace on a flat course.
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