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  1. #1
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    New to long(er) distance riding - knee pain

    I just started getting into cycling earlier this year. I dabbled last year, but for commuting & losing weight I thought I'd treat myself to a new bike (fitness hybrid) this spring & set a goal for the season of 4000km & a century at the end. I'm a little behind where I hoped to be (1950km), but I'm still confident of completing my goals. Longest ride so far - 110km & the commute is ~28km round trip, about two or three times/week.

    My question is about knee pain - I've never had any issues (last year I cycled ~1200km total on an old steel mountain bike), but this past Saturday we cycled 110km (previous Saturday rides - 75, 100, 76, 84, 68km) & I had such pain on the inside of my left knee that I could not continue & had to call my wife to come pick me up. (Pain was noticeable at 75km, but bearable.)

    So...why now & never before? Two weeks ago we did 100km & no pain whatsoever. Is it overuse? (From Sat. to Sat. I cycled 271km, most ever in a week.) The other thing that changed in my routine last week is on my commute I have what I call my challenge hill - a very short (~0.5km) but incredibly steep hill that I've graduated from walking up to riding up in the granny gear & last week I did it twice in the middle chainring - I had to really push the second day, but I was pretty proud! Would that have aggravated the knee? Oh, the bike is fit properly, though I ride on flat pedals with sneakers.

    It's been two days & I figure I'm back to 95% now. I've decided not to ride to work tomorrow, but I'll try a short, easy ride in the evening. On Sunday I walked to church in the morning and evening (total of ~8km) & no pain. The only pain I still get is when I'm getting out of a chair or sofa where my knees are higher than my hips & even then it's only mild.

    When you all go out on long rides, do you stretch? Should I be strengthening my legs independent of cycling? Are there any other exercises that would be beneficial?

    Sorry for being long winded for what may be something minor, but I'm not interested in long term pain!
    Last edited by GeorgeT; 08-14-06 at 05:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Dead Men Assume...
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    I'm here to post about the same problem!

    Last Saturday (the 5th), I did a 270 km ride. About 120 km into the ride, my left knee (inside rear) started to act up. Stupidly, I did not turn around and continued on. Unlike you, I did not have anyone to pick me up which is why I ended up doing 270 km.

    I decided to stand down until this morning (except for a short ride on Saturday of 30 km which had no effect on my knee) when I went for very leisurely ride of 53 km. My knee started to hurt at around the 43 km mark. It's a very irritating pain but not sharp.

    For almost all of the riding that I've done this year, I did not experience knee pain and I have done rides of up to 245 km without anything more than a sore butt.

    I've never done stretching but did try to do some last month with no difference in performance. For almost all of my rides, I start out slow for about 5 km, sort of shake things down and feel it out, and, then, pour on the speed.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  3. #3
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    Hey, I'm new to this biking thing, but old to stessing the knees. Stretching would be beneficial because as we age, the elasticity goes in our muscles and ligaments and tendons. Not saying anything about anyone's age- I'm 40 and in 3 years, i've had to just about quit running because of the knees and back. Wehn stretching, lunging from side to side, keepin that knee soft will help as will exercising and strenthening those muscles that hold that patella in place. Sit on your butt while watching TV, stretching one leg out in front, the opposing let relaxed, but the foot sorta bent (like 1.2 and O). Keeping the knee soft, gently lift that leg a few inches off the floor. This will strenthen those muscles on the inside of the leg supporting that knee. Repeat other leg.
    Reps? I would start with 3 sets of 15. I don't know of any other exercise that will work that particular muscle group.
    I'll check back for additional tidbits. I can see that there is much info to glean from these pages.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeT

    My question is about knee pain - I've never had any issues (last year I cycled ~1200km total on an old steel mountain bike), but this past Saturday we cycled 110km (previous Saturday rides - 75, 100, 76, 84, 68km) & I had such pain on the inside of my left knee that I could not continue & had to call my wife to come pick me up. (Pain was noticeable at 75km, but bearable.)

    So...why now & never before? Two weeks ago we did 100km & no pain whatsoever. Is it overuse? (From Sat. to Sat. I cycled 271km, most ever in a week.) The other thing that changed in my routine last week is on my commute I have what I call my challenge hill - a very short (~0.5km) but incredibly steep hill that I've graduated from walking up to riding up in the granny gear & last week I did it twice in the middle chainring - I had to really push the second day, but I was pretty proud! Would that have aggravated the knee? Oh, the bike is fit properly, though I ride on flat pedals with sneakers.

    When you all go out on long rides, do you stretch? Should I be strengthening my legs independent of cycling? Are there any other exercises that would be beneficial?

    Sorry for being long winded for what may be something minor, but I'm not interested in long term pain!
    George,
    We are not Doctors here. Therefore we just share our experience. I am focused on very long distance biking such as a tour at 120-150 miles/day for 25 riding days. (just went across USA). Such an experience as yours must be avoided and here is what I would not do:
    Never overstrain by going up a hill in bigger gear, NEVER. I try to spin at 80 to 100 and feel guilty at lower cadence.
    I would never bike without clips. I need to take advantage of push as well as pull. Also I cannot afford to have my foot positioned wrong. That can cause such injury.
    I never stretch but use a longer warm up period at lower stress and higher cadence. I never push hard cold. I do upper body exercise as well as leg exercise off the bike. I am 65 and have done this for many years wthout injury. (crossing my fingers)
    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronMac
    I'm here to post about the same problem!

    Last Saturday (the 5th), I did a 270 km ride. About 120 km into the ride, my left knee (inside rear) started to act up. Stupidly, I did not turn around and continued on. Unlike you, I did not have anyone to pick me up which is why I ended up doing 270 km.

    I decided to stand down until this morning (except for a short ride on Saturday of 30 km which had no effect on my knee) when I went for very leisurely ride of 53 km. My knee started to hurt at around the 43 km mark. It's a very irritating pain but not sharp.

    For almost all of the riding that I've done this year, I did not experience knee pain and I have done rides of up to 245 km without anything more than a sore butt.

    I've never done stretching but did try to do some last month with no difference in performance. For almost all of my rides, I start out slow for about 5 km, sort of shake things down and feel it out, and, then, pour on the speed.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    The search engine for this BF is not working or I would suggest you use it. There are many posts for your reported symptoms. Frequent advise is to adjust the saddle.
    I bike a lot. This year perhaps close to 10,000 miles. I would be very upset if my knee hurts and at age 65 I have Arthritis in both knees. My secret is high cadence pedaling. But, the saddle position must be correct or that does not work either.

  6. #6
    Solo Rider, always DFL
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    If you are using clipless pedals you might need to look into pedals with more float, or adjust the cleats on the shoes... that was a problem for my knees, at least.

  7. #7
    Dead Men Assume...
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    There are many posts for your reported symptoms. Frequent advise is to adjust the saddle.
    I bike a lot. This year perhaps close to 10,000 miles. I would be very upset if my knee hurts and at age 65 I have Arthritis in both knees. My secret is high cadence pedaling. But, the saddle position must be correct or that does not work either.
    I've adjusted the saddle height just a bit and it seems to have made a difference. I don't know why it should have been such a big deal on that really long ride a couple of weeks ago.

  8. #8
    DaddystheMan daddystheman's Avatar
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    I had the same problem when I first started increasing from 20 mile rides to 50-60+ mile rides. My left knee would start hurting about ten miles in and get progressively worse until I was basically pedalling with only my right leg. It sucked.

    A few things I did to fix the problem:

    1. Adjusted my cleats. I realized that I had set up my cleats (SPD) to orient my foot straight forward. Seemed logical at the time, but that basically forced my foot into an unnatural position. I pronate quite a bit and my left foot really supinates, so I tried to center my shoe into my natural foot position. It helped a lot.

    2. In order to adjust my left shoe toward the natural supination (cant) of my left foot, I bought some LeMond LeWedges and wedged my left cleat up. By doing that, I completely eliminated 100% of my knee pain. It was night and day. One ride, lots of pain. Next ride, zero pain.

    3. I also take extra care to leave my left shoe fairly loose when I strap it on. I just force my foot up in the shoe before I fasten the straps, which essentially leaves my foot some extra room to move where it wants as I pedal, instead of locking it down to the pedal.

    Before focusing on my foot position, I tried all kinds of saddle changes - forward, backward, up, down, tilted, you name it. None of that had any effect on my knee pain. Others have had luck with changing saddle position, but I didn't.

    Anyway, I know that knee pain can be very, very frustrating, so I wish you luck and hope you find an easy solution!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    A good bike fit starts with the shoes and you work your way up. I am flat footed and use orthotics in the
    SIDI shoes. I have Speedplay pedals which have a lot of float to ease the knee problem.

    So when you say you wear sneakers, its a big red flag. To try high cadence spinning with sneakers is a little tricky. It might simply not work well enough for you.

  10. #10
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    I think that knee pain is serious and I will offer my experience to help if possible.
    I used to run for exercise. I had to stop about ten years ago due to knee pain.
    Biking became the fall back position. I had to learn fast. My exposure was to serious Road bikers in a Michigan Metro Park. These guys race. To make a long story short, I copied what they do as much as possible. That means proper bike shoes. (I now use SIDI and Shimano.) Saddle adjustments. (You just need to try different positions)
    Posture on the bike which means bike fitting and, very important, cadence.
    You simply must not have knee pain.

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    My experience is that it takes time for your body, especially the knee, to adjust to increasing time on the bike. In the meantime, anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, may help.

    There are many possible causes of knee pain though and it's simply not possible for anyone here to determine what is the cause of your pain. If your problem persists, then an evaluation by a sports orthopedist might be a good idea.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Hit yourself in the head with a hammer. Your knees will seem fine after that.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all your replies! I went for a couple of short rides last week & the pain returned at ~20km, so I've taken the last week completely off from the bike & am looking for a pair of decent cleats & pedals. Sounds like if I want to continue to up my miles & enjoyment, that's probably the best route, along with strengthening the area around my knees.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    My experience is that it takes time for your body, especially the knee, to adjust to increasing time on the bike. In the meantime, anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, may help.

    There are many possible causes of knee pain though and it's simply not possible for anyone here to determine what is the cause of your pain. If your problem persists, then an evaluation by a sports orthopedist might be a good idea.
    supcom,
    I hope you do not mind if I report two recent experiences of my?
    1) A close relative and friend just died as a result of kidney failure. The doctors said caused by long term use of anti-inflammatory medications and ibuprofen. She had spine pain from osteoporosis.
    As a result I and my family avoid such medication.
    2) I had injuries in my knee and shoulder. Doctors gave my x-rays and MRI. The conclusion was that they could do nothing for me and prescribed Vioxx. Because of above reason #1, I got off Vioxx as fast as I could. The treatment? Low stress spinning for the knee and low stress exercise for the shoulder.
    Both are fine now after two years and I have arthritis in both knees but biked across the USA.

  15. #15
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    I had some knee problems some time back that ended up being resolved by getting professionally fitted to my bike. Mine cost me $90, and included a bunch of measurements (tilt of my feet, shape of feet), and on-bike tests to see what my body did in certain positions. The key was a couple of Lemond wedges under my cleats (most of the other positioning was correct).

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