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  1. #1
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Strengthening my knees

    I usually go mountain biking once a week, hard trail riding/light XC, but find that my knees are a little tender the next day. I stretch a little before I ride and start out slow, and cool down when I finish if it has been a real hard ride. It also happens when I do running sports like football (soccer for those who think with their.... TV).
    Does anyone have any advice for good exercises to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the knees? The only injury that worries me more is a head injury.
    Any other tips? Football and Biking are essential to my happiness (well, I like to think they are anyways).
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  2. #2
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    You can attack the tendons with low weight heavy sets. Start slowly and really work the tendons into their natural power. Avoid hack squat machines, squat machines or anything that keeps you upper body into an unatural position. To explain this when you squat your body moves (actually the bar) in an 's' pattern. This 's' pattern is completely natural allowing your balancing muscles and tendons to do their job. By using a machine to maintain a strict movement you are

    a) removing the need for balancing muscles
    b) moving the bar in an unatural pattern causing stress in either the back or the knee or both.

    That said Regular squats and leg presses are probably your best bet. While this may sound strange this is the best way to strengthen the tendons and balancing muscles in the leg. Keep the reps low (3 to 5) and work your way to a heavy weight. eg if you leg press 500pnd for 10 try increasing that to 600pnds and do ONLY 5. This should be easy. Find you range and strenght and most of all do the exercises slowly and maintain strict form. Next the the shoulder the knee is very easy to damage. Ensure that you do not go below 90 degrees with your knees as this puts unatural stress on the knees. When you knees are stronger than you can worry about deep squats or deep leg presses. If you don't know what these exercises are go to a local gym and check with a trainer for good form. Each have variations but if you keep good form and you feet at shoulder width ONLY you will be fine (imo deep squats, sumo squats and sissy squats are a very advanced movement and should be avoided as they put undo pressure on knees/back).

    Also avoid leg extensions. They place the knee in a very strained position. The pull your lower leg past the 90 degree point which is the safe point for the knee. Stick to the compound movements to strengthen the whole knee and leg and you will find good results.

    Also ensure you check with a doctor to make sure you knee is ok. There could be damage and left untended the cartlidge could build up causing more problems in the future. (this happened to my shoulder. I am way to stubborn for my own good).

    Now when cycling don't mash the gears every ride. You can go just as fast uphill by switching to an easier gear. Essentially spinning when you can. It is the low rpm that causes problems with joints. This will save any problem with your knees etc...That said it really can't be avoided. If you do any trail riding like myself sometimes you come to technical parts where you have to mash the gears or walk. PErsonally I mash the gears

    This is of course assuming you have no seat height problem. I assume not because this only occurs during your hardtraining day.

    Cheers and best of luck.

  3. #3
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Thanks a bunch
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  4. #4
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    i found what Maelstrom said pretty good --- i also do similar leg weight training although usually only in the winter (off-season for cycling).

    but, also as he mentioned, your bike set-up and pedalling style are also important factors for the knees. i have had knee problems in the past, mostly from running, but also from cycling. i have really improved things by switching to Speedplay Frog pedals (with tons of float) and had a professional bike fit where riser bars and longer seatpost added. my main problem was my seat height was too low. i now sometimes experience slight signs of knee problems (usually beginning of season as i increase the miles) and i move my seat a few centimeters higher than optimal to decrease the stress on my knees (for my the sharper bend can be a problem).

    as also said, higher cadence is also good for the knees -- also usually better for inceased perfomrance anyway... "mashing" feels faster but from most studies is not --- for example, Lance A. changed from a masher to a spinner and i think he's been pretty successful with the technique...

    anyway, check out the bike fit as well as wokring on muscle balance. of course, also important is gradual increase in training as the tendons and joint tissue take longer to develop than the connecting muscle so in early stages of training you can damage stuff --- fighting muscle imbalance is one of the main injury prevention for knees from weight training
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  5. #5
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    Originally posted by iamlucky13
    I usually go mountain biking once a week, hard trail riding/light XC, but find that my knees are a little tender the next day. I stretch a little before I ride and start out slow, and cool down when I finish if it has been a real hard ride. It also happens when I do running sports like football (soccer for those who think with their.... TV).
    Does anyone have any advice for good exercises to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the knees? The only injury that worries me more is a head injury.
    Any other tips? Football and Biking are essential to my happiness (well, I like to think they are anyways).
    Building your legs up is important. They're NOT strong enough to handle what you're putting them through. Given what you said, they need longer to recover.

    I am a 53yr old x-football player, played tournament 2man sand VBall, and still nortic back country ski, golfing and mt & road cycling. And to do those things to my knees, I have to have 3 weekly visits to the gym. I had a bad backcountry ski jumping accident in "78", distroyed my right knee completely... Got a 11" track and a great big two prong staple in there to keep things in place... And, I use leg lifts all the time to keep the muscles surrounding my knee strong and tight... I have a BikeMax TecTrix at home that I put in 20-30 mins ever other day, and use the bench leg press to 400lbs, leg lifts up to 400lbs and leg & calf extensions to 80lbs to keep my leg muscles very strong

    If it wasn't for the gym and my work outs, I'd be couch riding remembering when ... Work outs keep me in the game and able to stay up with the younger bucks

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