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Old 07-29-07, 09:04 AM   #1
Tom 1960
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Sore and Creaky Knees

I'm sure this topic has been covered here too many times to mention. So please don't hesitate to direct me to relevant discussions. The problem I have been encountering recently is soreness in the knee joints and popping. After having dealt with this for the past 2 weeks, I've finally decided I have to back off and stop riding till this crap starts going away. I'm not what you call a newbie to riding. I've been riding the past 3 years and have never encountered any problems relating to my knees until the past few weeks. I've been basically riding 25 miles a ride for the past year or so and recently decided to ramp things up in the 35 - 40 mile area. I want to ride in a charity event which is 50 miles in mid-September which may be in doubt at this point. Maybe not? One of the main culprits leading to my knee issues was very recently resolved when I had someone at a local bike shop advise me to raise the seat dramatically higher than it was previously. You see, when I first started riding after a 20 year layoff, I felt very uncomfortable riding is such a high position. I lowered the seat as low as possible. I was able to get away with this till recently. I think this is a major factor for my present situation. Now that the seat is positioned higher, unfortunately things have not gotten better, not worse just not better. I've decided to stop riding for the immediate future till I feel better. This is also complicated by the fact that I'm a city mail carrier and do a fair amount of walking each day which doesn't allow my knees rest. So I'm forced to deal with being alittle uncomfortable at times. Not a big deal mind you, but this is my livelyhood and I can't afford to mess with my knees. So what do you guys think I should do, stopping short of advising me to see a doctor? That's not happening right now. Supplements, medicines, any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I really miss riding and this is the first Sunday in a very long time I haven't been cycling either on a bike or stationary bike at the local gym. It's a very weird feeling.
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Old 07-29-07, 09:18 AM   #2
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"I lowered the seat as low as possible. I was able to get away with this till recently. I think this is a major factor for my present situation."
Indeed. When my seat was just a couple mm too low, I started to develop tendinitis. It sounds like you had your seat much lower than that, which would put incredible stress on the knee. Even though you've raised it, you may still not be properly fit. It would be worth getting a professional fit, or at least ask a rider who is more experienced than you.
"I'm a city mail carrier and do a fair amount of walking each day which doesn't allow my knees rest. "
Yes, also a factor. Are you wearing comfortable shoes, with appropriate soles and insoles?
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Old 07-29-07, 09:32 AM   #3
Tom 1960
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I wear orthotics which are getting close due to be refurbishing. These have been a godsend for someone whose feet take a pounding on a daily basis. It's kept me from dealing with any major foot issues which sometimes plague my fellow co-workers. As for getting a professional fit, that's why I opted to visit the local bike shop. The woman there is a serious enthusiast and not someone who's there collecting a pay check. She was very good at taking the time to see I was properly fitted. Not trying to rush me out the door.
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Old 07-29-07, 11:33 AM   #4
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I started riding a couple months ago, had exactly the problems you're describing, with the exception of the mail carrier bit. But started out with seat very low to compensate for poor balance, was also walking a lot, slowly raised seat, but had very painful knees even after I adjusted it. Here's what worked for me:

1) Took a week off cycling. At first I just took a few days, then went out again when knees were mostly better, but this made it even worse. So I let them get to where they didn't hurt AT ALL when I walked. Then started back with short rides, about 50% of what I was doing before.

2) Put seat up to a level that if I stood with my heel on the pedal, I just lifted off the seat. This was higher than my LBS recommended for me.

3) Scooted my behind back in the seat. I may get a seatpost with extra offset, but going to just try this first and see how it goes. Your knees shouldn't go in front of the balls of your feet, and my knees were going forward past my toes. Edit: I believe it's that the bottom of your kneecap, not the top/front of your knee, should be over the balls of your feet.

4) This, I think, has been the most important - started doing lunges, squats, and hamstring curls, CORRECTLY. Keep the movements controlled, don't go further down than you can manage, and never let your knees go in front of the balls of your feet. Building up these muscles has REALLY helped.

5) Started taking ibuprofen before rides (If you do this, be sure to stay hydrated - very important!).

EDIT: Just went for a ride, and remembered 2 other things that are also very important and have helped me.

6) Keep your cadence high (at least 75 RPM). If you're mashing up hills with your pedals/legs going slow, this is hard on your knees!

7) Pedal with the balls of your feet, not instep/arches, on the pedals.

YMMV, of course, but I hope some of that helps for you - pain is frustrating, when you want to ride.

Last edited by BeckyW; 07-29-07 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 07-29-07, 02:47 PM   #5
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My left knee can be kind of wonky (it has been for every sport that I have ever done). If it doesn't feel good I will tape medical tape directly below the knee. My friend has a band that does something similar for when he plays tennis. I also got pedal extenders because on a road bike, it keeps your legs closer together than on a mountain bike, for example.
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Old 07-29-07, 11:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by BeckyW View Post
5) Started taking ibuprofen before rides (If you do this, be sure to stay hydrated - very important!)
so your idea of fixing a problem is to cover it up? pain is your body's way of telling you there's a problem, covering it up won't make it go away, and more importantly won't fix it. if your car engine starts making noise, would you fix the engine, or get louder speakers so you can't hear the noise? i'm guessing you'd get new speakers...

don't get me wrong, i see you're taking steps to help your problem, and that's a good thing. however, covering it up by taking something to hide the pain, isn't the answer. i would rather feel pain, and know something needs attention, rather than take 2 Advil and not feel something that may or may not develop into something more serious down the line...

Last edited by FIVE ONE SIX; 07-29-07 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 07-30-07, 07:33 AM   #7
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so your idea of fixing a problem is to cover it up? pain is your body's way of telling you there's a problem, covering it up won't make it go away, and more importantly won't fix it. if your car engine starts making noise, would you fix the engine, or get louder speakers so you can't hear the noise? i'm guessing you'd get new speakers...

don't get me wrong, i see you're taking steps to help your problem, and that's a good thing. however, covering it up by taking something to hide the pain, isn't the answer. i would rather feel pain, and know something needs attention, rather than take 2 Advil and not feel something that may or may not develop into something more serious down the line...
So I guess all the doctors who recommend ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications to help their patients exercise, in order to improve the condition causing the pain, are wrong? I agree that simply taking medication to cover up a problem that you're not addressing isn't a great idea, and if this had been the only suggestion I'd given, your response would be warranted.
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Old 07-30-07, 09:13 AM   #8
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Hey Tom. If 1960 refers to your birthyear, you may have developed arthritis, especially considering that you're a mail carrier and on your feet all day. Only an exam will show for certain. You really ought to see an bone doc. I had similar symptoms 2 years ago, and it was arthritis. Unfortunately, except for NSAIDS or eventual knee replacement, there's not much to do. Personally, I don't trust the NSAIDS side-effects, so I use lots of icing and heating pads.
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Old 07-30-07, 02:50 PM   #9
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I'm no experet on this but last year I had a similar problem as I started to ride more. When I went to see the Dr he said that all of the riding that I was doing was doing great things for my quads but the hamstrings wern't getting the same level of work. I added a simple hamstring workout to my routine and have not had a problem with my knees since. Hope this helps.
Ray
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Old 07-31-07, 05:46 PM   #10
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Start supplementing with glucosamine and chondroitin to help heal joint tissues.
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Old 07-31-07, 09:00 PM   #11
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so your idea of fixing a problem is to cover it up? ...
Actually Ibuprofen is NOT going to "cover up" the pain. It will provide relief from some of the pain in the form of swelling and inflammation reduction. Repetitive stress injuries like carpel tunnel use Ibuprofen as therapy and a tool for avoiding further damage. Swelling and inflammation will sometimes cause more damage than the initial injury and should be avoided with ice, Ibuprofen or what ever. Of course don't make a habit of eating any kind of pain killer and the source of the problem should not be ignored.

I hope you resolve your knee problem Tom. I have been doing some adjusting on my bike lately since I got a new seat post and a saddle. My riding is becoming stronger and with a few adjustments I noticed quite an increase in my average speed. I also notice a little muscle soreness below my knee and in my calves. I am keeping a watchful eye on whether it gets better or worsens. I think I need to work on my cadence a little as I understand that a higher cadence works the hamstrings more and the knees less. As old as I am, something always hurts a little. I think the perfect workout makes everything hurt the same amount. Sounds like a real pleasant goal to seek.
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Old 08-01-07, 10:22 AM   #12
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Actually Ibuprofen is NOT going to "cover up" the pain. It will provide relief from some of the pain in the form of swelling and inflammation reduction.
+1
Ibuprofen is not a pain releiver. It is an anti-inflammatory.
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Old 08-01-07, 05:59 PM   #13
Tom 1960
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Thanks for all the great responses guys and gals. The past few days have showed some improvement although I still can hear the knees cracking on occasion. I'm continuing to take time off, although the temptation to hop on the bike is great. However, I'm going to be smart about this and not give in and wreck any progress that has been made. I might hop on a stationary bike at the gym sometime next week and ride that for a half hour say and see what type of reaction I get. I've been taking Ibuprofin which my wife recommended. She's a nurse and thought that might help? Radio Free mentions glucosamine and chondroitin. This was also recommended to me by a fellow gym member. At the very least, it's worth a try. I have heard some good input on this supplement. The cadence is also something I'm paying alot more attention to now. In the past when riding uphills, I've tended to ride too hard going upwards which would again explain my present situation. I guess you live and learn.
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