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Old 01-13-07, 09:17 AM   #1
nebben123
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Curing those body aches and pains... what to do?

Anyone got any suggestions on how to fix the following problems I am experiencing?

#1: Soreness on the sides of my knees (usually on the inside). This is not on my kneecap, but rather about 1-2 cm on the side of it. When I poke it with my finger it feels bruised but does not show any visual symptoms like bruising. It hurt really bad on day #3 but seems to be getting better now that I'm more than a week into the tour.

#2: Pain on the palms of my hand. I have my handlebar covered in pipe insulation so it's soft, and I have a trekker style bar and I constantly switch positions. Sometimes the pain is so bad at the end of the day that I have to stop riding because my hands hurt, even though my legs could pedal for another hour or two.

#3: Pain in my left shoulder, between the upper part of my shoulder and my shoulder blade. It almost feels like someone is pinching me or poking me with a pin. Stretching seems to help, but not always.


Let me know if you have any suggestions. I will be able to check replies today (Saturday) but will be leaving to resume the tour tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

Thanks!
Ben

Last edited by nebben123; 01-22-10 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 01-13-07, 09:28 AM   #2
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.

Higher bars may help with the hands and shoulders, can you raise your stem?
Ride shorter days or take a day off. Or both. Call you doctor and see if you can take tylenol or asprin on your tour.

When you home see a good doctor about possible arthritis. All of those symptoms could be caused by that.
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Old 01-13-07, 09:32 AM   #3
nebben123
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Arthritis? I hope not... I'm only 28!
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Old 01-13-07, 09:35 AM   #4
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arthritis can start very early, especially in the knees... My brother is younger than you and already has somewhat arthritic knees.

Are you tall? Tall people tend to be more prone to arthritis. My brother is 6'4"
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Old 01-13-07, 09:45 AM   #5
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As far as your knees are concerned, look down periodically to see if your knees are drifting out away from midline. This tends to happen to people when they start getting fatigued. Keep your knees in, at least within the width of your hip joints.
Something that might help your hands and shoulders is remembering to keep your elbows somewhat in close to your sides. Something else that also happens when riders get fatigued is the upper body drifts down and elbows point out to the sides, being a position we don't normally hold our elbows while bearing weight. Try to think of it as pointing your elbows at the ground.

Where is your trip?
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Old 01-13-07, 09:49 AM   #6
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You can also try NSAIDs. Ibuprofen and Naprosyn (over the counter at any drug store or supermarket in NA.) Take one or two at the start of the day to prevent the pain from building up, then one again when you are done riding for the day.
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Old 01-13-07, 09:56 AM   #7
nebben123
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I'm going from Georgia to California.

Been taking Advil and Naproxen (12-hour). Seems to help, but hopefully I can prevent the pain to begin with. I will try to keep my knees and elbows closer to my body and see if that helps. I have never had any joint pain before this, and I am only 5'10" so hopefully it's not arthritis!!!
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Old 01-13-07, 10:05 AM   #8
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For your knees, I suspect your seat may be just a tiny bit too high. Try lowering it about a centimeter and see if that helps.
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Old 01-13-07, 10:20 AM   #9
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I'm sure you'll do fine. If you have the luxury of time, take a break one or two days a week if your body needs it. If you find yourself in a nice spot, spend an extra day there visiting.
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Old 01-13-07, 10:38 AM   #10
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Don't grip the handlebar unless required for climbing/standing, braking, or shifting according to whatever shift system you have. Ride with your hands on the bars with your thumb beside your index finger. This keeps you from constantly gripping the bar causing your hands to hurt. This also allows your hands to assume a natural position on the bars not confined to the angle of the bars.
Do a cool down walk before you get off the bike. I walk the last mile of my ride so I use muscles not normally used when peddling. This will wash out toxins produced in the muscles into the blood stream. It's the toxins in the muscles that cause them to hurt during or after the ride. When touring or doing long distance rides I never ever sit down when taking a break. I walk around and stretch to keep the muscles flushed. I will normally get off the bike every 40 or 50 miles and walk a mile or two as well.
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Old 01-13-07, 10:41 AM   #11
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hey nebben--minor adjustments and time usually solve the problems you mentioned-your body is basically wondering what you're doing to it!

#1--Ice (and stay off them as much as possible)-- ibuprophen and play with seat height----gear down and spin (95+ rpm)---don't push your cranks--especially if they are hurtin bad---ease up on them and spin

#2--like said above if you can raise your bars some and also maybe adjust fore/aft/angle of seat. Shake out your hands often--especially now when they are injured.

#3--again it sounds like you have too much weight on your upper body--stop at an LBS and have them put on an adjustable stem, so you can raise the bars

oh, yeh I'm not a doctor and this is the internet, so... Good Luck and enjoy the desert.

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Old 01-13-07, 11:26 AM   #12
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#1: Soreness on the sides of my knees (usually on the inside). This is not on my kneecap, but rather about 1-2 cm on the side of it. When I poke it with my finger it feels bruised but does not show any visual symptoms like bruising. It hurt really bad on day #3 but seems to be getting better now that I'm more than a week into the tour.

What kind of shorts are you wearing? What can happen is that if you are wearing lycra cycling shorts, with fairly tight elastic around the bottom of the legs, is that they can put pressure on your nerves and muscles. As you cycle, your legs swell a bit (become engorged with blood) because you are working your muscles, and that pressure increases.

This has happened to me, and to others I know. And yes, it can feel like it is bruised or that something is wrong with a ligament.

To test this theory, try riding for a day or two with regular shorts ... what you'd wear around the back yard on a weekend. If the pain goes away, that was the problem. If the regular shorts are uncomfortable elsewhere for riding, then I'd suggest getting a different pair of cycling shorts, ones that aren't so tight.

If you are already wearing quite loose shorts, the next thing you might try is altering your foot position. If you are feeling pain as you ride, try moving your heel out a little bit (and toe in) ... ride like that for a while and see if the pain eases off or not ... if not try moving your heel in a bit (and toe out) ... ride like that for a while and see if the pain eases off or not. Testing this might be more difficult to do if you are using clipless pedals, but if you do discover that an altered foot position seems to help, you can make a very small adjustment to your cleat. If you are using platform pedals, testing will be easy, but the difficult part will be remembering (or retraining yourself) to ride in the more comfortable position.

You might also read through this article on knee pain while riding. It is quite good.
http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm


#2: Pain on the palms of my hand. I have my handlebar covered in pipe insulation so it's soft, and I have a trekker style bar and I constantly switch positions. Sometimes the pain is so bad at the end of the day that I have to stop riding because my hands hurt, even though my legs could pedal for another hour or two.

As others have mentioned, you might try raising your bars. In fact, that would probably be the first thing I'd try.

Also, what kind of gloves are you wearing? There are several things that can happen with gloves ...
a) gloves are too tight -- they don't allow your hand to flatten properly on the bar. I have a pair of gloves like that. They seemed OK in the store, but when I rode with them, they were just too tight, and it gave me incredible hand pain. I also find the same thing happens in the winter when I'm wearing 2 or 3 gloves in layers and the bottom layer starts to get tight.
b) gloves are too loose -- when they are too loose, there's extra friction which can cause some massive and very painful blisters. This is the voice of experience speaking here ... I've got permanent callouses on my hands now from the blistering I incurred on one ride (it was a very long ride).
c) gloves have too little padding or padding in the wrong place -- there are some glove manufacturers out there who must not have a good concept of a what a person's hand looks like, especially when it rests on the handlebars of a bicycle. I've had the misfortune to ride with gloves with next to no padding, but with a seam running right across where my hand contacted the bar. OUCH!
d) gloves have too much padding -- if you get too much padding, it can put your hand in a different position than what would be comfortable. I haven't experienced this so much in gloves, but I have in handlebar size. I tried an oversized handlebar for a couple weeks, and it just hurt my hands ... it was too big.

You might try riding without gloves for a day or two, or if you are somewhere where you can buy a different pair of gloves, you might try that.

Also, don't forget to stretch while you are riding your bicycle. Sit up now and then and put your hands behind your back (one at a time if you're like me and can't ride no handed) to stretch your shoulders. Flex your hands frequently. Make sure to look around when you ride and keep your neck loose. Some hand pain can be caused by other problems further up the line.


#3: Pain in my left shoulder, between the upper part of my shoulder and my shoulder blade. It almost feels like someone is pinching me or poking me with a pin. Stretching seems to help, but not always.

Raising your handlebars might help with this too. In fact, your hand pain and this might be related.

Take a look at your saddle angle ... does it slope down in front? If so, you could be bracing yourself with your arms and hands to keep from sliding forward too much ... this would cause both your shoulder and hand pain. Try raising the nose of the saddle a little bit.

Don't forget to stretch while on the bicycle. Sit up every 15-20 minutes or so and go through a stretching routine. I've got one where I stretch my upper body, then I stand and stretch my lower body. When I forget for a while, that's when all sorts of aches and pains can start. (Just one note, if you are riding a loaded touring bicycle, and you have not stood yet, be very careful ... the balance thing is quite different than it would be without all the panniers)

Do you have access to a chiropractor or massage therapist? If so, go for it!!

Also, what are you sleeping on at night? I found that when I was sleeping on a little foam thing night after night, my back ached. I longed for the nights in hostels where I could get a good night's sleep and not wake up in agony. I've since purchased and used a thermarest, and that is much better. I also bring two pillows on my tours and will use one under my knees if I'm going to be lying on my back.


These are other articles with some good info about cycling and pain:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/pain.html
http://www.cptips.com/handsyn.htm


I hope some of this helps.

Last edited by Machka; 01-13-07 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 01-13-07, 11:34 AM   #13
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I suspect that you are tensed on the bike causing your shoulder muscles to tense and inhibit the blood-flow. Check your bike set-up as a precaution. Forget the pipe insulation as this is poor at stopping vibration from the road. Buy some gel inserts along with gel bartape and fit this.
Lower your saddle slightly as has been suggested.

Take an "Arnica" pill every day and aches will disappear. It also prevents bruising.

You can get rid of the burning-type pain in your neck/upper shoulder, which is caused by congestion of the blood-flow in your neck muscle by the following method. Either do this yourself or have a friend do it while standing behind you. With the tips of your fingers press down strongly with a circular motion, while moving along the muscle. You will reach a point where this becomes really painful. Now apply a steady, strong pressure to this point and hold it there. This will now be very painful and you are likely to feel a hot sensation climbing up the side of your neck to the top of your head. Keep up the pressure until the pain disappears and the blood flow is re-established.
It's a good idea to do stretching/rotating exercises with the neck for a few minutes a day to keep your neck in good condition.
The above method does work and I use this regularly myself, having being taught this when I suffered from the same problem.
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Old 01-13-07, 11:53 AM   #14
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The first week is always the toughest on your body and really brings out any little misalignments in your bicycle fit and your riding position. Some aches and pains will lessen and/or disappear as you continue, but those caused by the fit of the bike and your riding position/style should be addressed.

Based on what you wrote:

#1 - You may be pushing too high of a gear - try using a lower gear and spinning faster/easier. Also ensure that your saddle isn't too low. When climbing, don't be too macho to take a break now and then or even walk the bike for a spell.

# 2 & 3 - you may have be supporting too much weight forward on your arms & hands, which can also cause soreness in your neck and shoulders. If the fore/aft position of your saddle is already adjusted properly, don't mess with it, instead you may need to look at getting a different stem that will allow you to have your weight more evenly distributed between your legs, butt and arms. If you have an adjustable stem, tweak its position. Also, if you might want to try different gloves. If you are not using padded gloves, those may help, or, if you are like me, you may need LESS padding in the gloves.

You might also strongly consider taking a day or two off to give your body, knees especially, a little rest. Ice and ibuprofen as mentioned by others.

Be advised that I am not a doctor nor a fit expert, even though I did stay at a holiday inn express last night.

I have attached a word document that has some exerpts from one of the better bike fit outlines I found on the web (with site reference) that may help you adjust the fit of the bike.
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Old 01-13-07, 05:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nebben123
Arthritis? I hope not... I'm only 28!
I hope not. It may not be, but, mine was a problem at 27.

If it is, treatment now is much better than doing nothing, it keeps you better longer. It slows the progress of the disease down. It’s by far the best treatment.

There are a lot of good things to try here. They may solve all your problems.

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Old 01-13-07, 06:25 PM   #16
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Thanks so much for all of the advice. I will try a few things and see what works best. I went to the LBS here in New Orleans and the guy there recommended that I get a headset riser because apparently my headset is too low -- my seat is high because I have long legs even though I'm only 5'10. They installed it for me and even on the 20-block ride back to my friend's place I could feel that I am now putting a LOT less pressure on the handlebars. I also got an extender to move my handlebars farther forward and see if that helps too (haven't installed it yet).

I'll find out soon enough. Thanks again, I hit the road to Baton Rouge tomorrow morning!

Ben
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Old 01-13-07, 07:23 PM   #17
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Hey--
After reading Machka's post I was reminded how the seat angle being level or even slightly tipped back can make a big difference in relieving pressure off your hands. Just make sure you don't crush the happy nerve. Now go ice your knees for ten minutes.
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Old 01-13-07, 09:23 PM   #18
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Hey nebben,you might want to take a few days off, your heading into some bad weather. I don't like driving on ice let alone riding a bike on it. It probably give you a chance to heal up a little.Anyhow I wish you luck on your trip, take care. When it's all said and done it will give you something to remember for the rest of your life.
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Old 01-14-07, 02:59 AM   #19
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Try getting an Aero bar to take some tension off your hands.
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Old 01-14-07, 03:11 AM   #20
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if you are using clipless pedals, the cleats maybe set at the wrong angle this would cause the knee problem.
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Old 01-14-07, 03:22 AM   #21
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Job one when touring is to be comfortable. You won't cover the mileage if your injure yourself. Any time you change your cycling routine, longer hours, colder days, after a lay-off, you need to consider spinning in some light gears. If you try to do too much you will hurt yourself.

It's been a long time since I was invoved competitively, like 25 years. So it may all have changed. Still we started the season with 800-1000 miles of spinning. These days that is a whole season for me. All the cycling I do is cramed into my one two week vacation. I just hop on the bike and go, zero miles of preparation. So the whole trip is like the light gears intro to my old season. Something to think about.

You probably know all this but:

- Try to maintain a constant cadence and pressure on the pedals. You may not always be able to but this is the goal.

- Shift gears to maintain the cadence and pressure.

- Learn to apply power throughout the whole circle, both pushing an pulling with the big muscles.

- Learn to ankle, so your calves aparticipate in power.

- Try to listen to your body and make minor adjustments in position until you acheive a comfortable position: The point where the kneecap blends into the shin should be directly over the pedal axle at 9 o'clock forward; The legs should not straighten at any point in the cycle; The hips should not shift a lot side to side. Youupper body should be a little flat with good lung capacity possible, your arms should be a littel bent.
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Old 01-14-07, 09:22 AM   #22
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I had exactly the same symptoms you mentioned, converting a mtn bike to touring, and using trekking bars as well. It all boiled down to bike fit like most everyone is saying. I had to get the tallest stem riser they made, try different stems, etc. Make any adjustments in tiny steps, like 1/8 inch. (sorry, can't get into the metric thing yet) of course, bike fit won't help the glove thing.
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