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  1. #1
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    Heavy aching legs

    Anyone else suffered this?

    What causes it?

    Some information: I felt it come on about 24 weeks ago, it was only noticeable when carrying my bike upstairs after a long ride, but it progressed to the point where walking upstairs on my rest days was tougher. They'd start to ache 3/4 of the way up, then 1/2 the way up.

    Then I got an injury (knee tendons), 19 weeks ago. I immediately rested, probably too much. No exercise until 2 weeks ago when I started short gentle rides around the block (the whole time I've been stretching and massaging). The heaviness and weakness has not let up though, sometimes I think It's getting worse. It's difficult to describe, kind of like a burning/aching within the muscles whenever I use them, quads, hams and calves, both sides. Now it's at the stage where even standing causes them to ache, and just one step of the stairs is tough. I've moved to a bedroom on the groundfloor so I don't have to use them so often.

    If you have any ideas please share. This has been going on too long.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by enfilade; 02-11-10 at 11:57 AM.

  2. #2
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    Another thing.. all blood tests came back negative, but my doctor sais I have a mild case of Raynaud's syndrome. Could poor circulation be the cause?

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    Banned. $ick3nin.vend3t's Avatar
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    What causes Heavy legs?
    In your case, it sounds like too much volume, too soon. It sounds like you need to develop/adapt your body & its muscles more slowly to the stress placed upon them.
    I immediately rested, probably too much.
    To prevent the feeling of heavy legs, you must increase your mileage only at a pace your body is comfortable with, become more flexible to relieve stress from your muscles and joints and promote recovery.

    "After a long ride", then walking upstairs, would make even the accomplished cyclist's legs ache.

    You just need to tough it out & hang in there, good diet, good sleep, continue with the cycling, I think some lowerbody weight training wouldn't hurt & hopefully your body will adapt.

    I have Raynauds. It affects my hands & feet (extremities) especially in colder conditions but its never affected my legs.
    Last edited by $ick3nin.vend3t; 02-11-10 at 03:23 PM.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Naw, not normal, enfilade. You must have some sort of metabolic thing going on that the docs can't find. A similar thing happened to a friend of mine. The docs took muscle biopsies but still couldn't find the cause. It's gradually gotten better for her over the past couple of years.

    Do not train harder or lift weights! My only suggestion I've made before, which is to take a total of about 60g of whey protein/day and see if that helps, while continuing to only ride slowly around the block. Just do it, and report back after a couple of weeks.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1) Get tested for MS.

    2) Get someone at an LBS to check your fit on your bicycle. You could also post a pic of yourself on your bicycle here.

    3) Post a chart of the exercise you've done in the past two weeks.

    4) Ease up on all the stretching and massaging. How many times a day do you stretch/massage your legs?

    5) Do not get into weightlifting now. You may get into that later, but only under the supervision of a qualified trainer because, from previous posts, you don't know what you're doing and will hurt yourself.

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    Cheers for the replies. I will up the protein intake.
    Here's a chart of my ride distances:

    31 Jan - 0.8M
    01 Feb - 1.2M
    02 Feb - 1.8M
    03 Feb - -----
    04 Feb - 1.1M
    05 Feb - 1.2M
    06 Feb - 0.4M
    07 Feb - -----
    08 Feb - 0.8M
    09 Feb - 1.8M
    10 Feb - 0.5M
    11 Feb - 0.7M

    (The one mile and above days were split into two or three rides. I started recording them on the 31st but began riding a week or so earlier).



    I'm going to start walking more and cycling less now, as my upper back muscles are killing me. I even bought the Backnobber today, in the hope of releasing some trigger points, but no luck so far. I can't see how anyone finds these 'tender spots'. Spending two to four hours a day on cycling, stretching and massaging. Most of that on gentle massaging, using the Stick, a tennis ball, or my hands. I stretch my quads and calves after the short rides around the block, and do several other light stretches throughout the day.

    I'll see my doctor again tomorrow and ask for a brain scan, though there's a good chance he won't order one.. a couple of months ago he told me I didn't have MS. I know it's not diagnosed in the GPs office though

    I'm getting a lot of panic attacks/depression at the moment.. racing heartbeat, chest tension, etc. My doctor thinks that's what's causing all the other symptoms. It's got me thinking about how much control the mind has over the body. Starting to think it's a lot more than we realize.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
    Spending two to four hours a day on cycling, stretching and massaging. Most of that on gentle massaging
    2-4 hours a day??? Not one of your rides is more than 1.8 miles which shouldn't have taken you more than 15 minutes. So you're spending almost 2-4 hours a day stretching and massaging your legs??

    If I did that for 2-4 hours a day, I'd have sore legs too!! And I suspect you might not know what you're doing when it comes to stretching and massage either if your upper back muscles are killing you and yet you can't find tender spots on your back. I can run my fingers lightly down someone's back, and if there's a tight spot, it's obvious. Incorrect stretching can lead to all sorts of problems.

    -- Go for your rides, add in a little bit of walking, but stop with all that stretching and massaging with the exception of some light stretching right after your ride or walk.

    -- Go to a physiotherapist and learn how to do stretching etc. properly. Or ... take up yoga.

    -- Go take a class on something that interests you, take up knitting if that's something that has always appealed to you, build model trains, learn how to play an instrument ... do something other than sitting there and thinking about how your legs hurt.

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    Enfilade,

    Were you at all out of breath when you initially began experiencing these heavy/sore legs during the stair climb? Also....I assume you cycled more than a mile or two per day back in the days before you tweaked your knee. What sort of distances were you accustomed to riding?

    I ask because it sounds to me like you may not have been in good enough shape to carry a bike up a flight of stairs after a ride every day. Just a hunch, but...the one or two mile rides during your rehab sort of indicates that you are not....all that fit. And, doing anything everyday (especially cycling and then carrying said cycle up a flight of stairs) is not easy on the body. You must be at a certain level of condition to continue. It sounds to me like you just ran out of gas.

    FYI: I walked 6-7 miles per day on crutches while rehabbing my broken leg. After getting off the sticks, I then walked about twenty miles a day, up and down hills, to further recondition that bad leg and the rest of me. But...you know what?

    Even though i am in pretty darn good shape right now, my freaking legs would still get tired (feel heavy) if I rode my bike all the way into work and then carried that sucker up a flight of stairs.

    I agree with Machka, don't sweat it...just ride.

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    Yeah, I wasn't conditioned to carry the bike up the stairs after a ride. I was very naive about it, and never even thought about the strain on my body until it was too late. Because I'm slim and I've spent my whole life playing all sorts of sports I figured I was fit enough to just get on the bike and go. I started with 15 mile rides! (Just to point out I wasn't riding every day. Usually did two or three rides a week) I'd ache afterwards but would heal well and be ready for another ride several days later. I adapted to that quite well over the following weeks, but I upped the mileage way too soon, doing tough 30 to 40 mile rides not long after the 15 miler. Then I'd notice my legs would start to ache bad during the hilly sections of these rides, and my average speed had dropped, but I didn't read too much into it. I just pressed on. My quads would ache on these rides, but I'd get home and lug the bike upstairs each time.

    Like you say, I'll go very easy for atleast the rest of this year. I'll walk more and do low resistance cycling, and hope this improves with a bit of time.

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    Banned. $ick3nin.vend3t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
    Usually did two or three rides a week) I'd ache afterwards but would heal well and be ready for another ride several days later. I adapted to that quite well over the following weeks, but I upped the mileage way too soon, doing tough 30 to 40 mile rides not long after the 15 miler. Then I'd notice my legs would start to ache bad during the hilly sections of these rides, and my average speed had dropped, but I didn't read too much into it. I just pressed on. My quads would ache on these rides, but I'd get home and lug the bike upstairs each time.
    Well that is obvious man. Of course your going to ache, we all ache... Its about adapting to the stress.

    I'm sure your having a laugh with us. If not, I apologize. Could be something you consume before riding?. Milk for instance. Still a believer it causes cancer. I don't think a lot people respect what we consume can really end up kickin us in the a$$.

  11. #11
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    what do you weigh?

    I thought Raynaud's only affected exterimities like fingers and toes ...
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    what do you weigh?

    I thought Raynaud's only affected exterimities like fingers and toes


    I'm skinny (5'10" - 125lbs). My doctor sais that can be a factor in Raynauds.

    It affects fingers and toes more than anything else, but really, if you have it in your toes you're likely to have poor circulation in your feet and lower legs as well. I'm taking Nifedipine at the moment, a drug that opens up the blood vessels. It really helps circulation, makes the cheeks bright red.


    Well that is obvious man. Of course your going to ache, we all ache... Its about adapting to the stress.

    I'm sure your having a laugh with us. If not, I apologize. Could be something you consume before riding?. Milk for instance. Still a believer it causes cancer. I don't think a lot people respect what we consume can really end up kickin us in the a$$.


    I agree, but then again anything causes cancer. Sitting at a desk 8 hours a day, or using a mobile phone, could be the trigger. About the cycling, I did do too much for my body to adapt. Built it up too fast. I hope it's still fixable.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    the best remedy for cycling soreness is walking
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
    I started with 15 mile rides! (Just to point out I wasn't riding every day. Usually did two or three rides a week) I'd ache afterwards but would heal well and be ready for another ride several days later. I adapted to that quite well over the following weeks, but I upped the mileage way too soon, doing tough 30 to 40 mile rides not long after the 15 miler. Then I'd notice my legs would start to ache bad during the hilly sections of these rides, and my average speed had dropped, but I didn't read too much into it. I just pressed on. My quads would ache on these rides, but I'd get home and lug the bike upstairs each time.
    Allow me to add something to your story here for reference purposes .... according to another thread, you think 70 rpm is spinning. 70 rpm is NOT spinning, it's mashing. But I hate to think what you must have been doing if you think 70 rpm is spinning!!! No wonder your legs are in trouble. You must have been riding in the hardest gear you've got at what ... 40 rpm????

    I do hope that when you go out on your rides now you've figured out how to use the shifters and are working moving your legs at least 80 rpm ... preferably more.

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    Trying to keep my cadence over 70rpm at all times. Spinning feels so much better.. and I haven't even attached my clipless pedals yet


    I didn't mean 70 rpm is spinning. I'm keeping it above 70 at all times, which is a big step up from what I was doing. I can hold it around 80-95, if I concentrate. That'll become more natural with practice.

    40 rpm sounds about right for before. I'm sure that was a factor in my injury, but the steep hills, heavy bike and platform pedals all contributed.






    You must have been riding in the hardest gear you've got at what ... 40 rpm????

    I'd start the hills in first gear (and with a low cadence for first gear as I wasn't spinning). I'd get tired out halfway up... switch to the third or fourth gear (depending on the gradient) and stand up on the pedals. That felt a lot easier on the legs, like I was working different muscles. If the hill was very long I'd alternate between the first and the fourth gear.. sitting and standing. It felt like the best way at the time.

    I only ever used 27th gear on the steep downhills, when I was trying to break my speed record

  16. #16
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Proper bike jargon lesson: don't refer to gears by number. Say how many teeth. So you might say, "I started my climb in my 42 X 21, but by the time I reached the top I was down to my 30 X 23." The first number is the number of teeth on the front ring, called the "chainring," and the second number is the number of teeth on the rear ring, called a "cog." If you don't know how many teeth, get down on your sore knees and count them, noting the numbers on a piece of paper. Memorize them.

    An old school thing was create a table showing the "gear-inches" for every gear combination, laminate it and afix it to one's stem. Then one could see what the gear combination for the next gear up or down would be. With the advent of 8, 9, and 10 speed cassettes, this is no longer important. One calculates gear-inches by dividing the number of teeth on a cog into the number of teeth on a chainring and multiplying by the nominal wheel diameter, 27" for a road bike, 26" for MTB.

    It's a good idea to create a spreadsheet with this information and study it a bit. It will give you some insight into possible gear combinations and keep you off your bike for a bit. Normally one does not "cross-chain," meaning to run in the big ring and a big cog, or in the granny ring and a small cog. This is thought to increase chain and tooth wear.

    And do concentrate! Keep those rpms up around 90 on the flat and 80 climbing. While you're doing that, concentrate on form. Back straight, elbows in, head up, shoulders dropped, knees directly over pedals, no upper body movement. Breathe conciously and deeply while climbing, all the way to the bottom by expanding your belly first, then your chest. Keep your throat and mouth open while breathing deeply.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Proper bike jargon lesson: don't refer to gears by number. Say how many teeth. So you might say, "I started my climb in my 42 X 21, but by the time I reached the top I was down to my 30 X 23." The first number is the number of teeth on the front ring, called the "chainring," and the second number is the number of teeth on the rear ring, called a "cog." If you don't know how many teeth, get down on your sore knees and count them, noting the numbers on a piece of paper. Memorize them.

    The knees are too frail for me to count the teeth at the moment, but I will make a chart before beginning longer distance riding.

    This is more of a Bicycle Mechanics question.. but saying my two lowest gears were 30 X 25, and 30 X 27, (it's a standard MTB drivetrain - FSA 27 speed), could I fit a new cassette with a bigger first gear, so it was more like 30 X 25, and 30 X 29... or even 30 X 31?

    On my first bike, a �130 Haro Vector, the difference in the size of the biggest cog and the second biggest cog was huge.. noticeably larger than on a standard cassette. It was brilliant for climbing steep hills. I'd like to have that setup on my current bike, but I don't know if it's feasible, with the cables and rear derailleur, etc, etc..

    Here's my current bike:

    http://www.sunsetmtb.co.uk/shop/inde...category_id=79

    Would be a big help if you could tell me how get that bigger gear.

    Cheers.



    Edit: That's supposed to be 130 pounds. Don't know why it came out like that.

  18. #18
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
    <snip>
    This is more of a Bicycle Mechanics question.. but saying my two lowest gears were 30 X 25, and 30 X 27, (it's a standard MTB drivetrain - FSA 27 speed), could I fit a new cassette with a bigger first gear, so it was more like 30 X 25, and 30 X 29... or even 30 X 31?
    <snip>
    The specs on that bike say 44/32/22 up front with an 11-32 cassette. Better count those teeth. If this is your setup, you should be able to climb walls with that bike, while pulling a trailer. That would be a low gear of 18 gear-inches. Most road riders have no need of a gear below 30 gear inches, and even heavy tandems and loaded tourers seldom go below 20 gear-inches.

  19. #19
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    Ok, that's probably what I had on my old Haro then, 22 X 32, it just felt like a lower gear because the difference between 1st and 2nd cog was so big - It was only an 18 or 21 speed bike.

    Still, if 22 X 32 is what I have on my Kona, I do struggle to climb hill after hill, on a long ride. I'll see how much easier it becomes once I've attached the SPDs..

  20. #20
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Yeah, repeating climbs is a combination of strength and fitness. Strength is how you get up one climb. Fitness is how you do climb after climb. Basically, fitness means you can recover between climbs, with the second often being faster than the first. I don't really know how this works, but my experience is that riding frequently (every day) forces the body to recover between those daily rides, and somehow that causes a training adaptation that allows the body also to recover between climbs. So keep up those short, daily, easy rides. Don't go for the gusto just because you start to feel a little better. At first, gradually increase the length of all your rides. And take that whey protein.

    And like Machka says, cut it out with all the stretching and massaging. Leave 'em alone, or if you must, don't do it for more than 15 minutes.

  21. #21
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    Here is what you do: pedal at high rpm (85 to 100) for several hours almost everyday. Never force pedaling (mash), not even when climbing hills---not yet. Until you are fully conditioned, always spin fast with low reisitance.

    Btw: you will be fully conditioned when your legs no longer feel heavy---ever!

    Good luck.

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    Update:

    31 Jan - 0.8M
    01 Feb - 1.2M
    02 Feb - 1.8M
    03 Feb - -----
    04 Feb - 1.1M
    05 Feb - 1.2M
    06 Feb - 0.4M
    07 Feb - -----
    08 Feb - 0.8M
    09 Feb - 1.8M
    10 Feb - 0.5M
    11 Feb - 0.7M


    12 Feb - -----
    13 Feb - -----
    14 Feb - 0.5M
    15 Feb - -----
    16 Feb - 0.6M
    17 Feb - -----
    18 Feb - -----
    19 Feb - -----
    20 Feb - 1.0M




    Legs still ache, but they feel better after stretching. Today, I started with a slow spin around the block (0.5M). My legs ached bad, then I got back and stretched, and immediately went and did another half mile in a higher gear, with the same cadence. That was easier than the first lap. Ate 3 eggs afterwards for a protein boost, plus Vitamin B tablet, bread and an apple.

    So should I carry on with this routine, or modify it? Are there any theories as to what causes aching legs?

  23. #23
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Effort causes aching legs. How much effort depends on your strength and conditioning. If I went in and squatted a few sets with 200 lbs., I'd have aching legs before I was done, but a powerlifter would do that for warmup. We did 20 miles on our tandem yesterday evening, including a few full power intervals, and yup, I have aching legs today. But I wanted a few microtears.

    In your case, it's just scaled down. 1/2 mile hurts. Try starting out much easier, so that it feels effortless, the pedals feeling light. After about 10 minutes of that, gradually increase force on the pedals. I'm not surprised that the second lap was easier than the first. I'd keep doing just that, but try to do it every day, and try to do the first lap with so little effort that it doesn't hurt. Now it may be that just moving your legs in circles is a considerable effort. I know that one legged pedaling on rollers, even in a tiny gear, will begin to hurt after a few minutes, so I sympathize. But try to keep the warmup effort down, anyway.

    And eating what you did is a good plan. If you want a fun check, tape your belly and thigh every few days. You want the thigh measurement to go up, the belly not so much.

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    Thanks for the reply. Very helpful.
    I'll do all that and post back in a couple of weeks.

  25. #25
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    Update:

    21 Feb - Snow
    22 Feb - Snow
    23 Feb - Snow
    24 Feb - Snow
    25 Feb - Snow
    26 Feb - 1.8 M
    27 Feb - -----
    28 Feb - 1.3 M

    FEB TOTAL 16 MILES

    01 Mar - 0.7 M
    02 Mar - 1.6 M
    03 Mar - -----
    04 Mar - 4 Mile walk
    05 Mar - -----
    06 Mar - 3 Mile walk


    I've not done any cycling for four days as my arms are sore, mainly the forearm extensors, but the whole thing feels weak. They haven't gained their original strength since I overused them on the foam roller, three months ago. And everything I do now.. playing keyboard, typing, juggling, drawing, massaging, tires them fairly quickly.

    So instead I'll do short walks every few days until my arms feel stronger. I've ordered the trigger point therapy workbook off amazon so that'll arrive tomorrow and maybe I can get a more effective massage and work out those tender spots.

    What's concerning me at the moment though is that my legs are still aching. I've done around 30 short rides over a 45 day period, I'm walking more, stretching daily, and getting plenty of protein. I thought they would've improved by now. Maybe it's time for me to start riding faster and including intervals? But then I'm worried my tendinitis will flare up again. The knee joint has improved somewhat but still feels weak and vulnerable to a repeat injury. Anyway I'll keep up the walks and hope for improvement.

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