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  1. #1
    The King of Town manboy's Avatar
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    Of knees and chickens

    I've been riding fixed for at least a year now, and I love it. I've found that I'm good at skidding and skipping, so lots of times I try to ride without touching the brake just to hone my skills. Now it looks like the chickens have come to roost: I've got some aches in my left knee.

    I'll still be riding fixed, but it looks like I'll be taking it easy, doing knee exercises, and driving to some places I might have otherwise biked (like work this morning). I'm even thinking about taking off my clips so I can't skid and putting on flat bars so my hand is always by the brake. It makes me sad.

    Of course, it doesn't help that the floor at my place of work isn't padded, and I'm supposed to wear dress shoes.

    Hopefully my knee will get better soon, but by that time I think I'll be in the mountains - Appomattox, VA. I'm doing a pottery residency there for a year, and hopefully I'll be able to keep up the riding.

    Just a friendly reminder to save your knees. Brakeless ain't cool if it breaks you.

  2. #2
    roll'em high shants's Avatar
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    when people complain about knee pain related to skidding (not sure that this is necessarily the case here), i have to think that they are doing something wrong. i find that leaning way forward and skidding (or even skipping) is far easier on the knees than resisting the pedals. there only seems to be stress on the knee at the moment before the wheel loses traction. even then it's not bad if the rear is truly unweighted. for a while i decided to try not to skip/skid so as to save the tires a bit - that's when i started to have knee pain. resisting on a downhill is brutal. skipping, on the other hand, is pretty easy on both tires and knees.

    that said, brakeless is definitely worse for the knees (than riding with a brake), but you can mitigate the pain and knee stresses by skipping and/or skidding properly.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    I have knee pain to begin with and still ride brakeless. Some days it hurts some days I feel fine. Once it starts hurting constantly I know I need to do something different. Until then I think Ill be alright.

  4. #4
    anarchy burger skelly's Avatar
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    I agree with what shants said about resisting the pedals being worse. The first time I ever tried to skid I thought I destroyed my knee. Once I learned it properly there was almost no resistance. If all your weight is on the front wheel there really it shouldn't be so hard to stop the back tire that your knees hurt.

  5. #5
    blacksheep the blemish
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    Ice is way nice. I had intermittent pain at the beginning of riding fixed but it all went away with time and taking it easy (i use my brakes for more than just emergency stops).

  6. #6
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    i had pretty bad knee pain when i first started riding fixed. then i realized i was only pushing down with my feet rather than applying equal pressure in a circle on the pedals. my knees don't hurt any more (and i'm riding brakeless).

  7. #7
    Senior Member brunning's Avatar
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    what's yer gearing?

  8. #8
    The King of Town manboy's Avatar
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    Eh, my gearing's pretty low--42x16. The deal is that when I skid or skip, I usually want to stop RIGHT NOW, so I've got my weight on the back somewhat. I don't think resisting is too bad; it's the pulling up on the front foot that hurts.

    Anyway, I've been taking it easy and things seem a little better.

  9. #9
    Gunner. robncircus's Avatar
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    Hit the gym. I have absolutely terribly bad knees although they've never been bothered through my fixie riding. However, I found with theat by doing squats, leg curls, calf presses and other leg excercises that my knees are much better. It's helped my knee pain from running a lot too. Building the muscle around the knee will take a lot of stress off it.
    Rob

  10. #10
    Crapzeit! mcatano's Avatar
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    To borrow a phrase, skidding basically turns your bike into a freewheeling unicycle. So yeah, the less weight you have on your rear wheel the less stress you'll have on the knees; however, as your weight on the rear wheel decreases, so too does your ability to actually, you know, like... stop your bike.

    m.

  11. #11
    King of the Hipsters
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    The human knee corresponds to a door hinge.
    It bends in only one axis with very little side compliance.
    Whatever side compliance we think we have in our knee actually comes from our hip, ankle and foot.

    When we feel pain in our knee, it comes as the result of how we use our foot, ankle and hip, with some pain coming from over-dependence on our front thigh muscles to mash the pedal down.

    Most Americans walk with their toes out.
    One can check this most accurately by observing his or her wet footprints on the floor.
    If a person walks with his toes out, he does so because of the way he organizes the movement of his hips, ankles and feet.
    Transferring this walking-organization to a bicycle spin means one puts side loads on his knee; a joint not intended to take side loads.

    How to have happy knees:

    Stand with your feet straight ahead.
    When straight ahead, your feet may feel pointed inwards.

    Put your hands on your back trouser pockets so you can feel the muscles in your outer buttocks and hips.
    Slowly step backwards and place your foot one pace backwards and perfectly straight.
    Do it slowly and pay attention.
    Put the foot down perfectly straight.

    Walk backwards in this manner for several paces, paying attention to how the muscles in the hips must work in order to put your foot down straight.
    In order to put your foot down straight, with your toes relatively in compared to your normal walk and stance, you will need to turn your heel out; and, in order to turn your heel out you will need to do something different with your hip muscles.

    Try the above before reading any further.
    I'll wait....

    Now we need to transfer this to the bicycle.

    Usually, one knee hurts and not the other.
    If they both hurt use the same technique on both of them.

    In the spin, as the foot goes forward and down, visualize turning the heel out and the toe in, as if stepping on something and squishing it, like a bug or a cigarette.
    More than the toe going in, the heel should go out.
    This happens in the hip.
    One can help this by simultaneously pushing sidewards with the foot as it goes down.

    So, as the foot goes forward and down, push sidewards/outwards with the foot and visualize the toe going in and the heel going out, with the emphasis on the heel going out.

    When one does this right, it will cause the knee to come in towards the top tube, so that sometimes the knee will actually graze the top tube.
    If one put lights on his knees, so that he could see their up and down path using this method, they might look like the following parentheses symbols )(

    Not so exaggerated, though.
    In fact, to someone riding behind you, your knees should just go up and down !! and not inward )(

    However much it may feel as if your toe and knee go in and your heel goes out, an observer behind you will just see straight up and down knees and a straight ahead foot.

    Got all that?
    OK.

    One more thing.
    As the foot goes down and forward, push lightly outwards with the foot, a little bit of toe in and a lot of heel out - AND - roll the foot and ankle inwards so that at the bottom of the spin, as one stands on the pedal, his weight goes into the pedal through the big toe and the index toe.

    When your knee hurts, do the above and the pain will go away within seconds.
    Then you forget to do it and the pain will come back.
    Then you will remember to do it and the pain will go away.
    This yo-yo goes on for about a year of riding before one does it all the time and has no pain.

    I ride in a rolling hill urban and suburban environment, with about 1000 feet of dynamic range; meaning, I gain or lose 1000 feet on a typical ride.
    At 59 years of age, I ride with a 53t chainring and a17t cog for 81.9 gear inches.
    I have no knee pain.
    I have HAD knee pain in the past, but I don't have it now, riding my bike.
    I sometimes have knee pain when walking, and I practice the things I do in my spin with my walking, and the walking pain goes away, instantly.

    I have more to say on this subject, especially regarding subconscious mashing, but I'll wait to see if anyone has any interest in what I have already written.

    I love this subject.
    I think about it all the time.
    I intend to eventually produce a DVD addressing knee pain.
    I'll sell it at cost.
    I just want people to enjoy riding their bike.

    By the way, I don't know anything about toes-in issues.
    For those who walk with their toes in, I don't have any corrective techniques, yet.

  12. #12
    Yay!11! I has!!!1 ImOnCrank's Avatar
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    and there it is again. Man he's good
    Bloodstains, speed kills, fast bikes, cheap thrills, French girls, fine wine...

  13. #13
    heliocentrist cicadashell's Avatar
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    thanks again for your patient and lucid explanations, ken. my knee pain doesn't come on until i've ridden at least 40 miles (continuously) but it can come on pretty strong; this past summer's 200-mile ride required a long recovery period. i'm a mere 45 and look forward to many more years of pain-free riding, if i can just develop better technique.

  14. #14
    troglodyte ryan_c's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcatano
    To borrow a phrase, skidding basically turns your bike into a freewheeling unicycle. So yeah, the less weight you have on your rear wheel the less stress you'll have on the knees; however, as your weight on the rear wheel decreases, so too does your ability to actually, you know, like... stop your bike.

    m.
    As I was reading down, I was hoping for someone to have said this. Getting your crotch up to the stem is good for showing off and doing a 100 foot skid. When I need to STOP, I get my ass a couple inches up off the saddle and lock up those pedals. If I have to even skid the back tire at all (versus a quick skip), it usually means I don't have time to muck around getting my face over the front wheel anyway. And yeah, it'll take its toll on knees.

  15. #15
    welk soort fiets is dat? 165mm_49_16's Avatar
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    After going from 49/16 to 49/18, and focusing attention on my pedal stroke and still experiencing knee pain, a friend, avid cyclist/bicycle shop owner and rock-climber, who had also experienced joint pains/problems turned me on to Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate.

    I've been dilligently taking 1200 mg a day for the past two and a half weeks and noticed an almost immediate reduction in the pain and stiffness in my knees. I'm pretty amazed by the results, to be honest.

    Meanwhile, I've been cycling, skidding, skip-stopping as usual. I hope others who are having similar pains can benefit from these supplements. There's tons of information on the web, if you do a search:

    http://www.arthritis.org/conditions/...lucosamine.asp

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