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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 04-01-05, 03:13 PM   #1
peripatetic
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Weak Left Knee

Hey,

Since I just started riding the fixed gear, I think I've caused myself a problem: I went to play basketball last night and suffered a scary moment of sudden, shooting pain in my left knee. From talking to my friend, a doctor (though NOT an orthopedist), I'm pretty sure that it's patellar tendonitis. Anyone out there know some good exercises, or have a link to some specific leg-strengthening, at-home therapy for this? I'm 33, in decent shape, skinny, with no history of knee/joint problems. I'd like to continue riding the fixie, but I just think that the negative resistence is putting too much stress on my non-dominant leg, and I don't want to exacerbate.

Thankyamuch.
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Old 04-01-05, 03:25 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by peripatetic
Hey,

Since I just started riding the fixed gear, I think I've caused myself a problem: I went to play basketball last night and suffered a scary moment of sudden, shooting pain in my left knee. From talking to my friend, a doctor (though NOT an orthopedist), I'm pretty sure that it's patellar tendonitis. Anyone out there know some good exercises, or have a link to some specific leg-strengthening, at-home therapy for this? I'm 33, in decent shape, skinny, with no history of knee/joint problems. I'd like to continue riding the fixie, but I just think that the negative resistence is putting too much stress on my non-dominant leg, and I don't want to exacerbate.

Thankyamuch.
Though I'm not suggesting you couldn't have hurt yourself in some way, the act of resisting works your legs in a way that is quite a bit different than riding a bike that can freewheel. You will gain strength and flexibility over time... be patient.
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Old 04-01-05, 03:43 PM   #3
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What gear are you pushing? I've found that riding a lower gear in the high 60's low 70's lets me spin easily w/o stressin' out the knees, and has been good rehab for what were once a pretty creaky joint.

speaking of "joints", looks like that disturbingly freudian llama ate some jalapenos or somethin'.
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Old 04-01-05, 03:44 PM   #4
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I recall reading a thread somewhere on these boards about how somebody's foot positioning on the pedal was giving of his knee some troubles...

Last edited by ch0mb0; 04-01-05 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 04-01-05, 04:00 PM   #5
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Foot position is critical for keeping my knees happy. I find that if my knee is hurting I usually need to rotate my toe in a bit more towards my frame. Also, if you're worried about the resistance messing up the knee, put a brake on your bike and use it.
Good luck
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Old 04-01-05, 06:00 PM   #6
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i'm in physical therapy now for patelar tendonitis that i ignored and overworked. my orthopod had me rest/baby the knee for a coupla weeks, then had me start on stabilizing exercises (super slow leg presses with low weight; chair sits up against the wall), and then got me back on the bike for longer and longer rides.

a
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Old 04-01-05, 06:33 PM   #7
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I have problems with petelar tendonitis also, i play ultimate as well as ride, and it gets bad sometimes when i do alot of both. A couple other things i've found helpful.
since you just switched to riding fixed, Check your setup and positioning on teh bike, especially saddle height and position. Saddel too far back causes me problems, i use a 0 setback seatpost and that helps. Also, I am an over pronator, and have a great deal of varus(when running or pedaling, the outside strikes first, then the foot roles inward=bad for knees) Lemond makes this product calle Lewedge that helps. It is a set of shims, that fit between the cleat and shoe, so that you push at the proper angle, felt alot better after using them.

And when it hurts. You have to rest it. It will only hurt more.
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Old 04-01-05, 07:54 PM   #8
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I was going to say LeWedge. It makes sense that bodies don't line up with bikes very well.
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Old 04-01-05, 09:56 PM   #9
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Many times issues in the knee actually originate elsewhere in the body.
To keep it simple, though, consider the fact that the knee operates between the ankle and the hip.
On the bicycle, one has considerable control over the ankle and the hip.
Try pedaling with the hip and buttock muscles instead of the thigh muscles (the thigh muscles transfer stress into the knee).
One can do this by imagining a strong rubber band between the heels of the two feet.
Focus on the left heel and buttock and push sideways with the whole leg as the foot descends in the forward portion of its circle.
If this has anything to do with your problem, it will disappear within a minute of mindful spinning and will return when you forget.
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Old 04-02-05, 12:19 AM   #10
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Stop playing B-ball. That right there does more damage to your knees than riding a fix. The fix actually builds leg strength and stability. No sudden ligament tearing lateral movements like B-ball. Once you get used to riding a fix comfortably, there's less fighting and straining with pedal movements.
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Old 04-02-05, 04:35 AM   #11
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My own knee problem came from positioning on my bike. Proper fore/aft and height does wonders. Also try a lower gear. When i got my bike fit down the pain went away over time.

Each time you do something wrong on a bike you don't just do it once, you do it over and over-- in no time you can screw yourself up.

Lower gears, better fit.
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Old 04-02-05, 07:55 PM   #12
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Alright, all,

Thanks for the tips. I'm certain that I've actually injured something--I was actually remembering that I originally felt something while stretching to run back in the fall. I had a sudden, sharp pain under the kneecap. Everything I've read points to patellar tendonitis as the culprit. As far as gears go, I'm running pretty low gears, I think: 44x19. I brought it down after I received suggestions from others on this board. My positioning: I've been VERY diligent about adjusting this: got a new, longer-reach stem, fixed the saddle height and tilt, etc. I know that this is coming about because I've just jumped in really hard, really quickly (kind of did that with basketball the other night, also). Now, from experience and the inevitable, good lessons I've got from aging, I do NOT want to exacerbate the situation and I'd like to work on rehabbing the knee BEFORE I actually have to go through rehab. Also want to start running again, but no way I'm going to do it while it's feeling like this.

What are chair sits, exactly? How do I do 'em at home? Anyone know some good PTherapy links, I'd love to check them out. Thanks again, everybody!
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Old 04-02-05, 08:55 PM   #13
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I'd bet money you are riding without a brake eh? If you ride a fix and aren't riding on the track than you should have a brake as it does work away at your knees when resisting the fixed gear.
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Old 04-03-05, 02:32 PM   #14
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I'd bet money you are riding without a brake eh? If you ride a fix and aren't riding on the track than you should have a brake as it does work away at your knees when resisting the fixed gear.
I do have a brake, but I haven't been using it a lot. I can't skid or even skip yet, so basically, the negative pedalling I've been doing has been gradual slowing to stops, for the most parts. Once you can do it with your legs, the brake feels like more work. I'm wondering if I should just switch over to a singlespeed freewheel.

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Old 04-03-05, 05:12 PM   #15
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What are chair sits, exactly? How do I do 'em at home?
chair sits are where you place your back against the wall, with your feet out in front of you, your knees bent almost 90 degrees. imagine sitting on a bench up against the wall and having the bench removed--you look like like you're sitting but are actually doing a squat. you just hold that position for a little while, maybe while you brush your teeth or listen to a song. eventually, your knees will start to shake laterally, and that's how you know you're giving a workout to the stabilizing muscles.

a
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Old 04-03-05, 05:48 PM   #16
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I'm going thru the same stuff, I have a touch of patella tendonitis possibly from riding my fixie. I am 55 YY and have been cycling for 40 years. I think it is the result of asking my knees to do something different, namely slowing, skidding and skipping. It is a scary pain for someone who has had no knee problems. My regular non fixie cadence is 95/100. I'm riding a 70 in. gear. I'm also dialing in my positioning. Seat height, stem length and seat. This takes time to dial in a new bike but it also takes time to adjust to a new venue. It could have nothing to do with the fixie, since last week I also did some MTB single track with some short steep climbs that taxed my knees also. Dont despair, just be vigilant about geting the bike adjusted right, don't ride a big gear initally and spin. I chose the 70 inch gear because it is wind here but flat. With little or no wind I wanted a gear that would give me a 20 mph or so average speed at my normal in season cadence.
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Old 04-03-05, 06:59 PM   #17
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a,

Thanks for the description. I remember doing those with my crew team back in college, but never had the name. I'll do those, sound perfect for my issues.

Wheel Doc,

I'm 33 and just started riding the past few months. Before I was a runner and tennis player, and until this, had NEVER had any knees problems, other than some ilio-tibial band inflammation. I figured out the stretches for that, and I've fixed it. But as you say, it's scary to have sudden knee problems--and this WAS sudden. Thanks for your input, and it's great to know I'm not the only one who's facing these age-related issues. I'm going to keep my gearing low, also.

p.
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Old 04-03-05, 07:35 PM   #18
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a,

Thanks for the description. I remember doing those with my crew team back in college, but never had the name. I'll do those, sound perfect for my issues.

Wheel Doc,

I'm 33 and just started riding the past few months. Before I was a runner and tennis player, and until this, had NEVER had any knees problems, other than some ilio-tibial band inflammation. I figured out the stretches for that, and I've fixed it. But as you say, it's scary to have sudden knee problems--and this WAS sudden. Thanks for your input, and it's great to know I'm not the only one who's facing these age-related issues. I'm going to keep my gearing low, also.

p.
In my 30's I was addicted to Racquet Ball. It didn't bother my knees but my ankles. I still have to be very careful with my cycling. My left ankle is prone to achillies tendonitis if I don't pay attention to my peda; stroke, shoes and cleats.
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Old 04-03-05, 07:45 PM   #19
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I've been riding with a new set of shoes and pedals for 2 weeks and my knees have been in a lot pain around the kneecap ever since. Before this new setup I never had a problem riding fixed, even long distances and up and down hills. I had an inkling it was bad cleat placement. I will get some beer and tweak my setup tonight.
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Old 04-03-05, 09:41 PM   #20
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all these lengthy replies when your knee pain could be something as simple as incorrect saddle height.

i know that when riding my fixed gear if my saddle is only 2mm (or more) too low my knee hurts like beyotch. try raising (or lowering?) you saddle in very small increments.
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Old 04-03-05, 09:52 PM   #21
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Hey, thanks for putting a name on this problem (patellar tendonitis). I posted a couple of weeks ago asking whether I should be worried about the sensitivity below my patellas, and was told to get a smaller gear, which I've done. Unfortunately the smaller gear hasn't helped. If anything it's encouraged me to put on more miles, which has in turn negated any possible benefit of the smaller gear. I felt it today during my ride. I think I'm going to have to take a short break. Right now though I'm going to get a bag of ice.
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Old 04-03-05, 10:03 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrowedc
Hey, thanks for putting a name on this problem (patellar tendonitis). I posted a couple of weeks ago asking whether I should be worried about the sensitivity below my patellas, and was told to get a smaller gear, which I've done. Unfortunately the smaller gear hasn't helped. If anything it's encouraged me to put on more miles, which has in turn negated any possible benefit of the smaller gear. I felt it today during my ride. I think I'm going to have to take a short break. Right now though I'm going to get a bag of ice.
pain below your knee cap can certainly be a symptom of your saddle being too low. with a freewheeling bike incorrect saddle height is MUCH less apparent. fixed gears will teach you a lot about positioning in my experience, and will make you a much better freewheeling biker to boot.
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Old 04-03-05, 10:19 PM   #23
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Is your friend the doctor pretty sure about this? You should get him to recommend a specialist if this is not his field anyway. Your thoughts of caution on riding the fix is very wise.
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Old 04-03-05, 10:23 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by legalize_it
pain below your knee cap can certainly be a symptom of your saddle being too low. with a freewheeling bike incorrect saddle height is MUCH less apparent. fixed gears will teach you a lot about positioning in my experience, and will make you a much better freewheeling biker to boot.
Thanks. I found an old post ("link for fit nerds" or something) about an article on this subject. The article says a saddle that is too low can cause patellar tendonitis through over-compression of the joint. I've used the heel on the pedal test before, but lately I've just used the height that felt right. The heel test says it's a good 1/2" too low. I'll move my saddle up after a few days off. I just walked back from the store (with ice) and my knees straight up hurt.
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Old 04-04-05, 02:12 AM   #25
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I'm looking for that link now...not to mention stocking up on the ice bags, taking some pills and doing some chair sits.
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