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Anybody else ride pretty well but can't walk let alone go down stairs worth crap?

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Anybody else ride pretty well but can't walk let alone go down stairs worth crap?

Old 05-20-17, 08:38 PM
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Don in Austin
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Anybody else ride pretty well but can't walk let alone go down stairs worth crap?

71 year old MONO-athlete here. Sudden cardiac arrest slowed me down two and half years ago, but I have come back pretty well. No centuries lately, but I can ride 40 miles with "B" youngsters. And I expect to be ramping up the distances in the near future. A childhood knee injury does NOT seem to compromise my cycling much at all, but man am I clumsy going up a set of stairs! Going down is much worse and it is all I can do not to resort to half-steps.

I tried to do a 5 mile hike a while back and every time I had to go downhill on slightly compromised surfaces I was afraid I was going to fall on my ass! I was struggling at the end barely moving and almost tripping over every
pebble and here comes some little old lady who had stopped to take pictures and passes me running! I have been trying to do things at the gym and its maybe helping a little. I remember being younger and walking from one end of Manhattan almost to the other.

Walking wears me out faster than all but relatively competitive cycling. Running? I don't think I even know how! It is a combination of running out of steam and stiffness that makes walking hard.

I have a friend a little older than me who rides briskly 5k miles every year -- can't walk more than a mile without back aches.

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Old 05-20-17, 09:25 PM
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It's not that surprising Don. Cycling is a low impact sport and surprisingly easy to do with the pedals providing all the coordination you need. Stairs are brutes of things and even walking can take its toll. I don't understand runners - have you ever seen one that looks like he's enjoying himself?

The great thing about riding is that non-riders don't appreciate how easy it is and it's amazing how people regard you as a superman for rather modest achievements
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Old 05-20-17, 09:38 PM
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I am 54 and run 4-5 days a week. Going down stairs in the morning hurts my knees, but feels better later in the day after I loosen up. I think it is just arthritis setting in. For hiking, try getting a pair of trekking poles or maybe a hiking staff. They can really help on the down hill sections.
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Old 05-20-17, 10:10 PM
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Downhill and down stairs, the issue for me is neural. Never been diagnosed, but I went from being a two steps at a time guy to never having confidence going down stairs overnight with my head injury. My confidence increased a little over the years, but never got remotely close to what it was and is now getting worse again as I age (64 yo).

I recognize being able to downhill and downstairs as major achievements for bipods like humans. We take it for granted until something happens and we cannot. (By contrast, I could go up stairs with no issue at all before I could walk straight. After I left intensive care, I used to leave my room, cross the hall and go up the stairs. Apparently I caused an all-hospital alert the first time. After that, they would just go to the top floor and retrieve me.)

Trekkng poles is excellent advice. We had a snow/ice last winter. Went out once on my best boots. 1/2 mile was hard, slow and dangerous. Next time out I took my XC ski poles. Wow! I could walk fast with confidence. Downhills felt far safer and the one time I did slip, the poles made for a very gentle landing.

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Old 05-21-17, 12:18 AM
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I can ride and walk but not run. Old neck injury with permanently damaged C2. Any jolt can cause dizziness and blinding pain. Even riding on terrain that's too rough is painful.

I got a little too enthusiastic Friday when I discovered a utility easement in a field filled with yucca plants in bloom. In dim light they look eerie, like little ghosts hovering a few feet off the ground. I rode through to record some video with my helmet cam and shoot a few stills. But the utility road was really rough and I paid for it Friday night and all Saturday with aching neck and shoulders.

Next time I'll try with my comfort hybrid -- the long wheelbase, suspension fork and fatter tires should handle those easements pretty well. It's mostly flat or rolling open fields, but a mite bumpy for me.

But I'll ride again Sunday, if at all possible.
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Old 05-21-17, 06:06 AM
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I can understand difficulty walking and navigating stairs and hills but it seems a little strange that you would be comfortable riding 40 miles but get winded after a brief walk. Have you talked to your docs about this? Maybe there is something going on that you can address. If you could get the winded feeling out of they way, maybe you could handle moderate walking by adding walking sticks or something.

I sympathize as I get orthostatic hypotension (brief dizziness when standing up) frequently and worry that this could become a problem as I move into my 70s soon.
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Old 05-21-17, 06:36 AM
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Don in Austin
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
I can understand difficulty walking and navigating stairs and hills but it seems a little strange that you would be comfortable riding 40 miles but get winded after a brief walk. Have you talked to your docs about this? Maybe there is something going on that you can address. If you could get the winded feeling out of they way, maybe you could handle moderate walking by adding walking sticks or something.

I sympathize as I get orthostatic hypotension (brief dizziness when standing up) frequently and worry that this could become a problem as I move into my 70s soon.
Hey Don, I just came back from your area! I went on one Potomac Pedalers group ride and rode a bunch on my own. You have nice trails all over the place!

I spent one day riding the subways to random spots and just getting out and walking around.

My wife found a really great seafood restaurant in some little town I forget the name of. We had some of everything.

My heart docs think I am kicking ass to be as active as I am after sudden cardiac arrest two and a half years ago and it is not like I CAN'T walk, but walking certainly is more tiring than one would expect relative to cycling.

That hypotension is not too much of a problem, because I negotiated with my docs for absolute minimum blood pressure and heart meds. Blood pressure is pretty low. I don't think dizziness upon standing up is that much of a threat, just something to be aware of.

I am going to try just ramping up the amount of walking and stair-climbing I do and see if I become more efficient at it. Also have a new trainer at one of my gyms and I told him I want to concentrate on glutes and everything related to walking and stairs, my calf muscles are strong, and I don't even care that much how strong my arms and shoulders are!

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Old 05-21-17, 06:39 AM
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The subject of this thread is so "me" that I had to check to see if it was an old one I posted myself.

Yeah, I'm 54 and it takes me about twenty minutes to be able to stand up straight in the morning. Every single joint aches and now my calf muscles are in a constant state of pre-cramp. I am also starting to gasp for breath a little when I "crazy dance" with my granddaughters.

Yet, I get on the bike and I am 20 years old again. Nothing hurts, nothing feels like a chore, and I still haven't figured out how far I can ride before I collapse.
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Old 05-21-17, 06:44 AM
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Don in Austin
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
It's not that surprising Don. Cycling is a low impact sport and surprisingly easy to do with the pedals providing all the coordination you need. Stairs are brutes of things and even walking can take its toll. I don't understand runners - have you ever seen one that looks like he's enjoying himself?
Actually yes! There was a young guy at my gym who would get on the treadmill, turn it up to a high speed, and it seemed like his feet just glided and hardly impacted the belt. The owner of the gym said, "Oh yeah... he's a **** gazelle!" But I
tend to agree and have no interest in running. Long walks are another matter.

Originally Posted by europa View Post
The great thing about riding is that non-riders don't appreciate how easy it is and it's amazing how people regard you as a superman for rather modest achievements
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Old 05-21-17, 08:04 AM
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My wife has to slow down for me when we walk the dogs. Most steps are in pain except for the steps right after getting off my bike. I'm 58 and "about" to start a serious knee strengthening program but don't want to sidetrack my dual frozen shoulders rehab and right now I'm going for a ride.
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Old 05-21-17, 09:58 AM
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This thread shows the importance of cross training. No matter how well you become at any one activity if you don't train the other muscles you will have problems; I hike (hiked the Appalachian Trail) and I run a lot.

Like the OP, I also suffer from a childhood injury to my knee, which basically causes me pain, much like having a permanent case of "runner's knee". It use to really bother me when I first got into cycling, especially when I did my first bike tour and it really flared up when I hit the mountains on that tour.

It doesn't bother me too much nowadays on the bike, but when I really jam the pedals I feel it, but I really have to hit it hard. I started running about ten years ago after my thru-hike and my knee bothered me much more during runs, but I've been really working hard in the gym to build up my bum knee and now I can run a 15K without much knee problems. Working towards a marathon.


BTW, how I injured my knee was by climbing up on a roof and sliding down one those TV antennas many houses had back in the day. There was a spigot at the bottom with the handle removed. Yes, it nearly ripped off my knee cap. I was probably about 10-years old.
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Old 05-21-17, 10:19 AM
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Add me to the list.
At age 75, I can bike, speedskate and go up stairs, but downstairs is another thing.
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Old 05-21-17, 10:31 AM
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I definitely can bike better than I can walk. After breaking my ankle a few years ago, I think I lost a lot of confidence on going down stairs, ladders, etc (although the injury had nothing to do with that). My surgeon said I probably have some scar tissue build-up between my ears.
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Old 05-21-17, 10:53 AM
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I don't know if it pertains in your case, but walking downhill uses different muscles, or in a different way. "Eccentric loading", as the external load (body weight downhill) is opposed by the muscle contraction. I found this out myself a couple of years ago hiking up and then down Stone Mountain, a local attraction. Though not as acute as you describe, those muscles became overwhelmed and walking was more difficult. Balance suffered. It's due to prolonged disuse and caught me by surprise because I was generally physically active.

The bright side is that using and strengthening those muscles can bring the functionality back, or at least mitigate the problem. My own strategy has been to take up walking a bit more, some moderate running and treadmill, and stairs whenever possible. I believe that it has helped, probably the running more than anything although I realize that's not for everyone. I can't tell you for sure until I go back to Stone Mountain and compare, but just using those muscles in that way is bound to help.
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Old 05-21-17, 12:07 PM
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Ayup, and we had a similar thread a few months ago. 🙂
Long story on mine, but I have a steel plate & titanium screws in my left knee, and it only bends about 3/4 as far as it should. I used a cane to walk for several years, with lots of pain, and that was getting old quick. I finally decided to get smart, & get some wheels. I definitely didn't want a wheelchair, so got on a bike. 😎
I still had a lot of pain, but at least riding took my mind off that, and I could get out & see some sights.
It took me a long time to realize, but using shorter cranks, like 170 instead of 175, is far easier on my knees. It feels like you have to spin twice as much, to go the same distance, but it's way easier on the knees & ankles. 🙂
I still don't care for stairs or ladders though, and that's alright. 😉
EDIT: BTW, I'm 55 now, a youngish old fart. 😋

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Old 05-21-17, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
Hey Don, I just came back from your area! I went on one Potomac Pedalers group ride and rode a bunch on my own. You have nice trails all over the place!
Yes, and getting better each year.

I spent one day riding the subways to random spots and just getting out and walking around.
Interesting way to see the neighborhoods. I think I would do a little research on Google first to optimize my selection.
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Old 05-21-17, 12:19 PM
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56. Tibial Plateau fracture (two plates and 14 screws which should come out this Thursday) falling onto frozen ground getting on my horse in Jan 2015. Rehabbed on an indoor trainer. Hiking Poles are your friend.
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Old 05-21-17, 12:30 PM
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Gave Up walking do to L4-L5 Herniated Disc Pain.

Biked 60,000 miles
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Old 05-21-17, 02:02 PM
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This thread reminds me of one of our bike shop customers years ago. The guy walked with an obvious limp and some difficulty, but owned a nice mid-level road bike. When he brought the bike in for a tune-up, he said to me, "I can barely walk, but I can ride like the wind."

Because of lifelong coordination problems and "office progressive" glasses, I tend to descend stairs like an old man, always using the handrail. Going upstairs is an entirely different matter, as I leave some of the undergrads and younger faculty members in the dust. Different exercises require different skills and put different stresses on the body.

Although I used to jog up to 5 or 6 miles per day as part of my commute, I have pretty much had to give up running because of bilateral Achilles tendinitis. Last month I ran a 29-minute 5K on campus, and my "good" (now "less bad") left Achilles flared up again, and the pain lasted a few days. The problem seems to be impact-related, because it has not kept me from bicycling, which is now the only way I can get a good cardio workout.
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Old 05-21-17, 02:13 PM
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Yeah, everyone talks about how they dread the thought of climbing hills when hiking in the mountains, but you soon learn it's not going up hill that really hurts, it's the downhills that will kill your knees -- uphill just challenges your cardio system, but cardio is easy to build up vs. your musculoskeletal system. My recommendation, weights, that's what I do to support all my other activities, it's the building of your foundation. This helps in going down mountains (or stairs).

BTW, it hurts so much because it isolates the quads.

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Old 05-21-17, 02:46 PM
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I play tennis, ultimate frisbee, go for hikes, walks, and ride my bikes as well. I also go out dancing a few times a month.

My longest rides are around 3 hours. You're doing yourself a disservice by relying on long bike rides as your sole form of exercise. Sitting is bad for your bones and cycling is sitting.

At least go for a walk a day, even if it's only half an hour. An hour is better. Lift weights or do weight resistance training of some kind: push ups, pull ups.

Mtn biking is better exercise than road riding. With mtn biking (assuming you actually ride in the mountains and not on a flat trail), getting and keeping traction is generally more difficult and so your upper body comes into play a bit more.

Cycling can be very good for aerobic fitness and sometimes for losing weight but it's not beneficial for strong bones and overall physical strength. The longer you ride (ie the more you sit and the more you sweat) the weaker your bones become.

Bike riding is fun but don't delude yourself. It's counter intuitive since you're less likely to be huffing and puffing but an hour of walking is better for your health than an hour of riding. Weight bearing exercise is absolutely necessary.

In the op's case, why not visit a doctor? At the very least it could lead to a diagnosis and understanding of your specific problem. You can get a referral for physical therapy for knee pain at least.gl
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Old 05-21-17, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by speshelite View Post
I play tennis, ultimate frisbee, go for hikes, walks, and ride my bikes as well. I also go out dancing a few times a month.

My longest rides are around 3 hours. You're doing yourself a disservice by relying on long bike rides as your sole form of exercise. Sitting is bad for your bones and cycling is sitting.

At least go for a walk a day, even if it's only half an hour. An hour is better. Lift weights or do weight resistance training of some kind: push ups, pull ups.

Mtn biking is better exercise than road riding. With mtn biking (assuming you actually ride in the mountains and not on a flat trail), getting and keeping traction is generally more difficult and so your upper body comes into play a bit more.

Cycling can be very good for aerobic fitness and sometimes for losing weight but it's not beneficial for strong bones and overall physical strength. The longer you ride (ie the more you sit and the more you sweat) the weaker your bones become.

Bike riding is fun but don't delude yourself. It's counter intuitive since you're less likely to be huffing and puffing but an hour of walking is better for your health than an hour of riding. Weight bearing exercise is absolutely necessary.

In the op's case, why not visit a doctor? At the very least it could lead to a diagnosis and understanding of your specific problem. You can get a referral for physical therapy for knee pain at least.gl

How old are you?
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Old 05-21-17, 03:16 PM
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Oh, I see, not in the target age group. Carry on.

But yeah, go for a walk a day if cycling is your primary form of exercise. Even if it's only half an hour a day, it's still highly beneficial.

Incorporate some strength training. Try push ups once a week to failure.

Then, maybe twice a week.

Third week, try some pull ups. Even if it's just one. Even if it's half a pull up.

I know this is a cycling forum and people are bound to become defensive if cycling is ever criticized but long distance cycling is really just sitting hunched over and spinning your legs with little resistance.
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Old 05-21-17, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
71 year old MONO-athlete here. Sudden cardiac arrest slowed me down two and half years ago, but I have come back pretty well. No centuries lately, but I can ride 40 miles with "B" youngsters. And I expect to be ramping up the distances in the near future. A childhood knee injury does NOT seem to compromise my cycling much at all, but man am I clumsy going up a set of stairs! Going down is much worse and it is all I can do not to resort to half-steps.

I tried to do a 5 mile hike a while back and every time I had to go downhill on slightly compromised surfaces I was afraid I was going to fall on my ass! I was struggling at the end barely moving and almost tripping over every
pebble and here comes some little old lady who had stopped to take pictures and passes me running! I have been trying to do things at the gym and its maybe helping a little. I remember being younger and walking from one end of Manhattan almost to the other.

Walking wears me out faster than all but relatively competitive cycling. Running? I don't think I even know how! It is a combination of running out of steam and stiffness that makes walking hard.

I have a friend a little older than me who rides briskly 5k miles every year -- can't walk more than a mile without back aches.

Comments? Don in Austin
Start off with walks. Know your limits. If it's half an hour (1.5 miles), start with that. Work your way up to an hour.

Then, try a half hour hike in more challenging terrain. If 15 minutes if your initial limit, start with that.

You definitely need to engage in weight bearing exercise, but start slow.
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Old 05-21-17, 04:08 PM
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Long ago, we were living in Colorado and I got started hiking. I discovered that hiking uphill was great aerobic exercise, and I lost a lot of weight doing it.


A couple of lessons from that, though. One, I found that a lot of people who were actually more fit than me, had knee issues going downhill. I never did; hoisting my bulk uphill was obviously hard on me, but man, I could plod downhill all day. So lesson there is, we're all different, and if Activity A works great for you and Activity B doesn't, well, that's just your clue to do Activity A and lay off Activity B.


Secondly, when I was getting in really good shape one spring, training for 14'ers, I was coming down my regular trail at Horsetooth Mountain Park, and got the bright idea to jog down instead of walking. Well, turns out, jogging downhill was actually easier than walking uphill. Until I met some people, stepped off the trail, and sprained my ankle. Then there I was trying to get in shape for peak climbing season with a sprained ankle. So the moral there, if something is giving you fits like that, beware lest you injure yourself where you can't do Activity A OR Activity B.
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