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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 06-28-07, 01:52 PM   #1
disconnec
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Knee Issues -- SS or FG?

Welp, it finally happened:

About 8 weeks ago after a 40 mile ride my right knee quite suddenly and very intensely started hurting. After a week of limping around I finally made it to an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and was diagnosed with iliotibial band syndrome.. a fairly common injury, no big deal, but something that takes a while to heal.

Now, after six weeks of physical therapy and rest and stretches and stupid boring exercises, (and depression due to being unable to ride my bike ) I'm finally *just* about ready to hop back onto the saddle.

However, I really, really, really don't want to reinjure my knee. I've adjusted the fit of my bike, got shorter cranks, etc. It's also geared pretty light at 46x18.

Was wondering if anyone here had gone through anything similar and had any other recommendations to prevent reinjury. Would it be at all wise to start riding a freewheel? Does it matter? blah blah blah?
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Old 06-28-07, 01:54 PM   #2
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how did the injury occur in the first place?
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Old 06-28-07, 02:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
how did the injury occur in the first place?
I dismounted my bike and realized that my knee was in excruciating pain.
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Old 06-28-07, 02:09 PM   #4
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doc say anything about hip exercises? You bow legged? I'd work on some easier spins, I can;t see how back pressuring would help the knee at all. Might make it worse. You think you tweaked it in the dismount?
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Old 06-28-07, 02:10 PM   #5
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geared.
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Old 06-28-07, 02:12 PM   #6
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I had/have the same thing. But it occured when I was on my other bike which has platform pedals and a free-wheel. My general practitioner was useless about it (he kept telling me to go get xrays), but through the magic of the interweb, I figured it was my iliotibial band that was causing the problem since all the symptoms matched.

Wow six weeks of being off the bike sounds awful. I was off the bike for one week and did stretches, it stopped hurting, I thought it was "better", got on the bike, and then reinjured myself. After another couple of days off
the bike, I got on and rode it at a pretty slow pace. Whenever I felt like the pain was going to come back (it feels like a tightness around the outside/top of my knee) I would get off the bike and do a stretch.

Ironically, now that I've been riding my fixed gear, my iliotibial band doesn't bother me as much anymore. I think continuing to stretch it after my rides helps a lot, especially after a long ride.

I've stopped doing most of my other iliotibial band stretches and stick to this one everytime I get off the bike or my band starts feeling tight. My right iliotibial band is the problem one, so I do this:

Stand up straight and cross my right leg behind my left one so that my right foot is to the left of my left foot. Then, I lean from the waist-up to the left while pushing my hip to the right. If you do this right, you can feel a stretch along your right side from the hips down to your knee.

BTW, I have the same gearing as you and it seems fine for my iliotibial band.
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Old 06-28-07, 02:13 PM   #7
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check alignment of your foot--are you clipless?

train safe-
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Old 06-28-07, 02:16 PM   #8
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Nope, clips & straps. I've been considering going clipless to see if it would be helpful...

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Originally Posted by buelito
check alignment of your foot--are you clipless?

train safe-
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Old 06-28-07, 02:16 PM   #9
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Popular interweeb seems to equate alot of this to hip issues as it pulls down the outsides of the legs.
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Old 06-28-07, 02:16 PM   #10
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semi-related stuff: i've been riding fg and/or ss for 5 years or so. i always thought the nonsense about it's gonna blow my knees up was just that: nonsense. anywho, a month back,i was involved in a charity dodgeball tournament. i wasn't, like, beaned in the knees or anything, but during the 4th match, my knees began to REALLY hurt, and kinda, like, lock up on me. interestingly enough, after close to a week of babying them, it turned out that the best therapy for it was casual spins on my geared bike. i've been ridign some trails ss, and it's usually cool. sometimes, i get some isolated relapses, though.

fwiw, i'm too poor/stupid/bullheaded to see a doctor about this.

i've been telling myself that i hurt my knees b/c the dodgeball involved lots of sprinting, juking, and quick changes of direction. i'm a hefty guy, and i'm thinking *that* is gonna put more stress on my knees than the kind of riding i do. but, i'm curious: do any of y'all experts on the ss/fg forum think that there's any truth to the knees thing? like, has anyone else ON HERE have knee problems that they suspect comes from their drivetrain?

thanks.
-rob
ps-to the op, sorry if i jumped in on your thread. it just kind of reminded me of my pain, and got me scratchin my head
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Old 06-28-07, 02:20 PM   #11
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You're right in that the 46/18 isn't that high. Then again, it isn't that low either. Lord knows no one would ever use it off road... but I digress. One thing you didn't mention was how hilly that ride was.

I have a 30 mile commute which I ride on my Crosscheck with a 48/18. It's got a lot of climbing - not severely steep, but long, decent grades. Anyway, I rode it on my single speed after a bit of a layoff a month ago and I blew out both my knees just like you. Thankfully I was just a few miles from home. But those last few miles were a painful crawl. After a few days of R&R I got back in the saddle. But I started off on my other bike with... oh the shame... GEARS!

I live in a hilly area. So unless I put the bike on the car and drive down to a bike path I can't tailor the day's ride to exclude hills. And I'd rather ride my geared bike than no bike at all. As you've learned, there's no sense in sacrificing your health on the alter of Single Speeding. Not everyone has a pair of iron clad knees. I know that I don't... at least not without a good, solid base of training anyway.

So my advice to you is get out on a bike with multiple gears if possible. If you don't own one, perhaps you can borrow one. Take it easy and spin around for a while. Then start pushing bigger gears when you feel better.

DanO
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Old 06-28-07, 02:20 PM   #12
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It's my understanding that sports like dodgeball and competitive badmitton (seriously) are actually very hard on your knees. Lots of cutting, sprinting, etc...

Quote:
Originally Posted by surreal
semi-related stuff: i've been riding fg and/or ss for 5 years or so. i always thought the nonsense about it's gonna blow my knees up was just that: nonsense. anywho, a month back,i was involved in a charity dodgeball tournament. i wasn't, like, beaned in the knees or anything, but during the 4th match, my knees began to REALLY hurt, and kinda, like, lock up on me. interestingly enough, after close to a week of babying them, it turned out that the best therapy for it was casual spins on my geared bike. i've been ridign some trails ss, and it's usually cool. sometimes, i get some isolated relapses, though.

fwiw, i'm too poor/stupid/bullheaded to see a doctor about this.

i've been telling myself that i hurt my knees b/c the dodgeball involved lots of sprinting, juking, and quick changes of direction. i'm a hefty guy, and i'm thinking *that* is gonna put more stress on my knees than the kind of riding i do. but, i'm curious: do any of y'all experts on the ss/fg forum think that there's any truth to the knees thing? like, has anyone else ON HERE have knee problems that they suspect comes from their drivetrain?

thanks.
-rob
ps-to the op, sorry if i jumped in on your thread. it just kind of reminded me of my pain, and got me scratchin my head
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Old 06-28-07, 02:23 PM   #13
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yeah, the PT had me doing all sorts of stretches to loosen up my IB in addition to exercises to strengthen my quads. Basically my kneecap was scraping against my femur in a way that it shouldn't be because my IB was too tight and my quads weren't keeping it on track. .. At least, that's my layman's comprehension of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
Popular interweeb seems to equate alot of this to hip issues as it pulls down the outsides of the legs.
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Old 06-28-07, 02:27 PM   #14
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I was skateboarding for over 25 years....and bikes saved my knees after ruptured ligaments, and most recently sending my kneecap to the back of my leg. Jumping off a board at speed can make your kneecap want to shoot across the street. If I walked with my cane too fast and tried to slow down I'd get PAIN side and front of knee. Hard deceleration is terrible on the knees, so hard geared fixie braking can definitely create wackiness.....

Were you / are you running a front brake to help with the deceleration?
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Old 06-28-07, 02:30 PM   #15
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Thanks for your input -- I'll consider picking up a 20-tooth cog for insane around-town spinnyness. That particular ride wasn't very hilly, but I did cross the Williamsburg Bridge three times...

Unfortunately I don't have access to a geared bike at the moment, but maybe maybe maybe I could pick up something cheap on CL with part of my tax return. I love riding fixed, but yeah.. I'd rather have functional knees. I'll report back after a short weekend ride.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bottomfeeder
You're right in that the 46/18 isn't that high. Then again, it isn't that low either. Lord knows no one would ever use it off road... but I digress. One thing you didn't mention was how hilly that ride was.

I have a 30 mile commute which I ride on my Crosscheck with a 48/18. It's got a lot of climbing - not severely steep, but long, decent grades. Anyway, I rode it on my single speed after a bit of a layoff a month ago and I blew out both my knees just like you. Thankfully I was just a few miles from home. But those last few miles were a painful crawl. After a few days of R&R I got back in the saddle. But I started off on my other bike with... oh the shame... GEARS!

I live in a hilly area. So unless I put the bike on the car and drive down to a bike path I can't tailor the day's ride to exclude hills. And I'd rather ride my geared bike than no bike at all. As you've learned, there's no sense in sacrificing your health on the alter of Single Speeding. Not everyone has a pair of iron clad knees. I know that I don't... at least not without a good, solid base of training anyway.

So my advice to you is get out on a bike with multiple gears if possible. If you don't own one, perhaps you can borrow one. Take it easy and spin around for a while. Then start pushing bigger gears when you feel better.

DanO
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Old 06-28-07, 02:32 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
I was skateboarding for over 25 years....and bikes saved my knees after ruptured ligaments, and most recently sending my kneecap to the back of my leg. Jumping off a board at speed can make your kneecap want to shoot across the street. If I walked with my cane too fast and tried to slow down I'd get PAIN side and front of knee. Hard deceleration is terrible on the knees, so hard geared fixie braking can definitely create wackiness.....

Were you / are you running a front brake to help with the deceleration?
Yep, was running a front break at the time, but not really using it. I went on a *very* brief ride a couple of weeks ago just to test the waters and learned that a) my knee was a long way from healed and b) front brake = good.

I'll be a lot more zealous with it in the future and try to kill that back-pedaling habit.
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Old 06-28-07, 02:37 PM   #17
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spin spin spin..I rode SS when messin' better acceleration/braking dynamics in traffic anyway....just not as flowy looking
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Old 06-28-07, 02:53 PM   #18
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actually, your seat may be too high and too far back, which causes your leg to stretch further than it should. look at this...http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm
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Old 06-28-07, 05:05 PM   #19
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If I'm not mistaken, ITB syndrome is not a knee problem at all.
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Old 06-28-07, 06:18 PM   #20
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I have ****ed up knees. Clipless makes a world of difference. Fixed vs. SS does not matter at all.
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Old 06-28-07, 06:22 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nakedsushi
I had/have the same thing. But it occured when I was on my other bike which has platform pedals and a free-wheel. My general practitioner was useless about it (he kept telling me to go get xrays), but through the magic of the interweb, I figured it was my iliotibial band that was causing the problem since all the symptoms matched.

Wow six weeks of being off the bike sounds awful. I was off the bike for one week and did stretches, it stopped hurting, I thought it was "better", got on the bike, and then reinjured myself. After another couple of days off
the bike, I got on and rode it at a pretty slow pace. Whenever I felt like the pain was going to come back (it feels like a tightness around the outside/top of my knee) I would get off the bike and do a stretch.

Ironically, now that I've been riding my fixed gear, my iliotibial band doesn't bother me as much anymore. I think continuing to stretch it after my rides helps a lot, especially after a long ride.

I've stopped doing most of my other iliotibial band stretches and stick to this one everytime I get off the bike or my band starts feeling tight. My right iliotibial band is the problem one, so I do this:

Stand up straight and cross my right leg behind my left one so that my right foot is to the left of my left foot. Then, I lean from the waist-up to the left while pushing my hip to the right. If you do this right, you can feel a stretch along your right side from the hips down to your knee.

BTW, I have the same gearing as you and it seems fine for my iliotibial band.

was there a doctor involved in any of this?

another vote for geared, if you are going for minimal potential knee issues.
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Old 06-28-07, 06:45 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadgator
was there a doctor involved in any of this?

another vote for geared, if you are going for minimal potential knee issues.
^^^^^^
Quote:
Originally Posted by nakedsushi
My general practitioner was useless about it (he kept telling me to go get xrays), but through the magic of the interweb, I figured it was my iliotibial band that was causing the problem since all the symptoms matched.
Yeah, I absolutely hate to admit that I am having some mild knee discomfort myself. I skid waaaay too often...

I'm going to go back to my 64 gear inches for riding around town and probably start using a brake.

Last edited by hockeyteeth; 06-28-07 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:02 PM   #23
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I'm 45+ yrs and run two brakes and 69 gear inches, which really helps the knees.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:16 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Placid Casual
If I'm not mistaken, ITB syndrome is not a knee problem at all.
...

you are quite obviously mistaken. and if you want to get really obnoxious about it, even if it's not a "knee problem," it definitely causes knee damage and knee pain.
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Old 06-28-07, 08:26 PM   #25
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i had meant for the diagnosis and treatment. should have been clearer.
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