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  1. #1
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    Knee discomfort after long climbs

    Hi Guys,

    I used to have some minor knee pain after long rides, but fortunately they completely disappeared after I got a proper bike fit.

    Currently I ride 160 miles / week and recently I started to climb during the weekends. I noticed that since I go on more challenging trips (70 miles + 5-6000ft climb) my knees feel a little bit more sensitive after the ride. I wouldn't say that I have pain, I'd call it post ride discomfort / weakness / sensitivity. Not a big deal, but it's noticeable.

    I started biking 7 month ago and I weight 140 lbs.

    So here are my questions:
    * Will my knees get used to the increased demands?
    * Is there any pre/post ride exercise that helps?
    * Should I take some sort of joint health supplement to speed up the recovery?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    It would help to know where exactly your knees hurt and what specific changes were made to your fit that helped?

    Your body needs time to adapt to any new stress. Riding particularly long or hard rides without a gradual build up to that level of difficult can lead to injury. A common recommendation is to start out relatively easy and then increase the effort level (duration and/or intensity) by 10% after a week and 3 or 4 rides at a that given level of effort.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Are you mashing big gears when going uphill ??..If you are then you need to stop mashing and spin more.

  4. #4
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    I had a similar problem, although from running, not cycling. My runs don't last very long; as soon as my left knee complains, the run is over. I only started running recently, and I seem to be going farther and farther, so I probably just have to ease into those long distance runs.

    I did some research, and found that there are numerous reasons you might have knee discomfort. You can't treat the problem until you know the root cause, and if you try you may make things worse. I saw my family doctor, and I advise you to do the same -- there's no substitute for seeing a real doctor to get some advice. I also plan on visiting a nearby sports medicine clinic when I get a chance.

  5. #5
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    From what I've heard long days with lots of climbing it's not uncommon for knees to feel a little sore. Is that 5-6k feet of real climbing or just elevation change? I can go on a ride along the SoCal coast and do 1400ft of elevation change according to Strava. 70 miles with 5-6k of real climbing is a tough day in the saddle. For most of my climbing I prefer to spin at 90+ rpm which reduces the stress on your knees. Occasionally on 10%+ grades my 34-27 low gear will drop my cadence below 80rpm but that doesn't happen very often around here.

  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    The usual recipe is to ramp up miles no more than 10%/week. That applies to climbing also. Don't just go out all of a sudden and start doing 100'/mile rides. Also, as you kick the climbing up, you want to drop the mileage. And as others have said, you want gears you can spin on the climbs. Aerobically talented riders spin over 90. Ordinary folks do better somewhere in the 80s. Don't go below about 75 if possible.

  7. #7
    Senior Member hermanchauw's Avatar
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    Will my knees get used to the increased demands?
    They could, or not. Depends on your adaptation. If you can adapt, yes. If you can't adapt, no.

    Is there any pre/post ride exercise that helps?
    Pre and post: roll/massage, joint mobility, stretch.
    Others: strength training.

    Should I take some sort of joint health supplement to speed up the recovery?
    No harm.


    Herman Chauw
    Movement coach, strength & conditioning coach, rehab therapist

  8. #8
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    Thank you so much for all the replies. Interestingly enough that specific knee discomfort faded away after a couple of weeks posting here. Now I have discomfort at different places on my leg. I'm gonna ask my fitter about this, cause his fit started to work perfectly after a couple of weeks.

    Just for fun I'm gonna answer the questions in the thread, hopefully someone will find it useful later.

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    Are you mashing big gears when going uphill ??..If you are then you need to stop mashing and spin more.
    I used to mash big gears, but along with the bike fit I started spin more. Although during a long climb, on 9% grades I just can't keep up spinning for 10 miles. I didn't feel any stress in my knees during the ride. I only encounter discomfort after the trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dunbar View Post
    70 miles with 5-6k of real climbing is a tough day in the saddle. For most of my climbing I prefer to spin at 90+ rpm which reduces the stress on your knees. Occasionally on 10%+ grades my 34-27 low gear will drop my cadence below 80rpm but that doesn't happen very often around here.
    Yes, I experienced the problem only on demanding long climbs.

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