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Thread: Weak Left Knee

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    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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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.

  2. #2
    ambassador of good will *new*guy's Avatar
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    Quote 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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    brain damaged bovine muccapazza's Avatar
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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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    switching to guns ch0mb0's Avatar
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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 03:40 PM.
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    Slower than you Judah's Avatar
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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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    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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    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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    loser
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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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    King of the Hipsters
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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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    Senior Citizen Discount fixedfiend's Avatar
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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.

  11. #11
    I bet
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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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    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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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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    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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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.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

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    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by larue
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by peripatetic
    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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    Ride it, don't fondle it! Wheel Doctor's Avatar
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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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    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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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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    Ride it, don't fondle it! Wheel Doctor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peripatetic
    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.

  19. #19
    deep fried goodness harlot's Avatar
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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.

  20. #20
    legalize bikes
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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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    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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    legalize bikes
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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.

  23. #23
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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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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    Quote 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.

  25. #25
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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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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