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Question concerning bad knees.

Old 06-03-22, 02:54 PM
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Helderberg
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Question concerning bad knees.

Does anyone here have bad knees and still go clipless? I fear that twisting my knee to release my feet will cause more issues than the consistent alignment of my feet on the pedals. Any input would be very much appreciated.
Frank.
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Old 06-03-22, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
Does anyone here have bad knees and still go clipless? I fear that twisting my knee to release my feet will cause more issues than the consistent alignment of my feet on the pedals. Any input would be very much appreciated.
Frank.
I do but I ride traditional slotted cleats far more which require loosening the buckle with my hand but no twisting. My issue is chondromalacia patellae / wear under the kneecap and between bone. I need pedals that lock my feet into a position that aligns my knees which is not one my feet would take on their own. The twisting to uncleat isn't an issue as long as I don't do it pedaling under load.

You might want to tell us more about your knee issues. Then those with similar can speak up on their experience.
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Old 06-03-22, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
Does anyone here have bad knees and still go clipless? I fear that twisting my knee to release my feet will cause more issues than the consistent alignment of my feet on the pedals. Any input would be very much appreciated.
Frank.
Adjust clip for easy release but be aware of unwanted release under pressured pedal effort.

Bone on bone issues over 20 years old due to aging out of medial joint surface thanks to bowed legs soon to be 72yo knees. Have resisted knee replacement and put up with pain.

Last edited by OldTryGuy; 06-03-22 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 06-03-22, 04:26 PM
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I am a 73-year-old that made a living as a plumber for 42 years. Lots of kneeling on concrete and working on ladders so I wear a firm compression knee sleeve on my left knee. If I let my knees splay out and do not keep my knee over my feet when I am done with my ride, 20 miles or better, my knee will hurt for days. I ride large flat pedals so I am constantly checking where my foot is on the pedal to keep a constant for saddle height and toe point and knee over foot. Thinking that clipless will give me a constant as far as foot placement but my concern is release. I have the old cage style and have fallen unable to get my foot clear and down fast enough. I ride a Cannondale Topstone gravel bike on the pavement. I ride a gravel bike as it is a relaxed geometry and not as upright as a hybrid which I also have.
Thanks in advance, Frank.

Old photo and I know the bars are "wrong" but need to have it this way because of my arthritis.
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Old 06-04-22, 05:08 AM
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The best thing I did was to change from Shimano SPD-SL pedals to Wahoo Speedplays. I use the easiest release spring in the cleat. Much more adjustment angle wise, and more "float" if you need it. I haven't fallen over at a stop due to not being able to unclip since!
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Old 06-04-22, 06:41 AM
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Have you thought about maybe using flats pedals-with or without pins? I have to wonder how much difference there is between clipless and flats for those of us who are older or not trying to set speed records. Not trying to start a clipless vs flat debate (tho seems that happens sometimes). Did a little looking around and found this: Are there any scientific studies proving the benefits of clipless pedal systems? - Bicycles Stack Exchange I'm a "recreational" rider, not too slow, and using flats with pins. Have no problem keeping my feet firmly planted on the pedal with them. Wish you the best and kudos for not letting your knees stop ya!
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Old 06-04-22, 07:43 AM
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I've had knee issues in the past from doing dumb things, but I've found that they are all correctable. However, this guy has had knee problems, including multiple surgeries and I do think he has found the key to improving knee health. His Youtube channel sounds kind of goofy and I was very skeptical at first, but I really think he's onto something.

BTW, I do cycle using clipless pedals and I sprint a lot, probably way too much and I do a fair amount of running, hiking and weightlifting, so I'm no stranger to knee problems -- and I'm 57, so, no spring chick

If you really want to address knee issues, you should give a few of these exercises a go and you don't need to start off with weights.

This is just one of his videos, but I chose it, because it shows how his mother has improved her knee issues using these exercises.


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Old 06-04-22, 07:56 AM
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As someone mentioned above, when I began using clipless pedals the experts recommended Speedplay pedals. Have been using them a long time with no issues.
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Old 06-04-22, 08:47 AM
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Thank you all for your help. Much appreciated.
Frank.
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Old 06-04-22, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
I am a 73-year-old that made a living as a plumber for 42 years. Lots of kneeling on concrete and working on ladders so I wear a firm compression knee sleeve on my left knee. If I let my knees splay out and do not keep my knee over my feet when I am done with my ride, 20 miles or better, my knee will hurt for days. I ride large flat pedals so I am constantly checking where my foot is on the pedal to keep a constant for saddle height and toe point and knee over foot. Thinking that clipless will give me a constant as far as foot placement but my concern is release. I have the old cage style and have fallen unable to get my foot clear and down fast enough. I ride a Cannondale Topstone gravel bike on the pavement. I ride a gravel bike as it is a relaxed geometry and not as upright as a hybrid which I also have.
Thanks in advance, Frank.

Old photo and I know the bars are "wrong" but need to have it this way because of my arthritis.
Your issues sound like mine. I've dealt with CP (chondromalacia patellae) for 40+ years, starting with my last season of racing. A doc gave me great advice, exercises, stretches, training advice (he also raced), looked at my position on the bike and advised warm knees; something I do to this day.

Splayed knees - what I figured out early on was that I had to keep my knees in. I came up with the mantra "brush that top tube". I tried to wear out the paint on the top tube behind the head tube. (Never did - I could just barely brush it but trying was a huge gift for my knees.) I also figured out that forcing my feet to toed-in helped my knees a lot. I am not the same right to left. I have to toe my right foot in a lot, the left just barely - but this must be forced by my cleats. Riding platforms and consciously twisting my foot is exactly wrong for my knees. In fact, pedaling free on platforms or having unrestrained float is bad news for them. I can make pedals like SPDs work sorta by maxing the toe-in so the spring is trying to align my feet to my knees' liking, but it is nowhere near as good as the various no-float cleats set to toe-in that my knees love.

For my knee issues, the sideways force of unclipping is far less than the benefit of the forced toe-in, even if I have to crank up the SPD release spring to max. (I don't go quite max on the left. 1) it is the healthier knee and 2) I always put the left foot down and those fall-overs get old.

I take this stuff seriously because that doc said this is a lifetime (or until I get those 3rd party knees) issue; that if I want to keep riding, this is what I have to do. Every orthopedic surgeon I've talked to since has told me the advice I got in 1978 was/is spot on. (I wrote a long post for a different forum 20 years ago that I periodically post here when appropriate. Search chondromalacia patellae.)
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Old 06-04-22, 04:52 PM
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Forced toe-in hurts my knees. IOW, we are each individuals. I like pinned flat pedals with Five Ten shoes because I my left knee sometimes hurts when my foot is in one position, sometimes in another. Also, the pins keep the rubber soled shoes in a single position on the pedals, and the flats (without toe clips) make mid-foot pedaling easy to do. When my knee hurts, I can adjust my foot to a position in which it doesn't hurt.

...Just another option for you to consider. I'm 77 and overweight with osteo-arthritis, especially in left knee and right hip, and 3 surgeries so far (thumbs and shoulder replacement)
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Old 06-06-22, 02:19 PM
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I have knee issues also, I run SPD pedals and set the springs fairly loose so that it's pretty easy to pop my shoe out of the cleat.
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Old 06-07-22, 08:12 AM
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I have terrible knees -- was diagnosed with severe chondromalacia patellae in both knees 25 years ago, and with a minor ACL tear in the left knee 12 years ago -- and yet I never feel that clipping out exacerbates them. I think a worse scenario for someone with bad knees would be a clipless pedal system that A) didn't allow significant float during the full rotation of the cranks, and/or B) that locked your foot into a less-than-ideal angle relative to the knees. Compared to those scenarios, the ~15 turnout required to unclip seems like it shouldn't cause significant stress.

But da hell do I know? I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV.
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Old 06-07-22, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
I am a 73-year-old that made a living as a plumber for 42 years. Lots of kneeling on concrete and working on ladders
Kneeling and ladder work is horrible on my knees and ankles after 1 weekend. Ouch!

BTW, I'm in a different Helderberg range, SW of Albany, NY.
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Old 06-07-22, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by BTinNYC View Post
Kneeling and ladder work is horrible on my knees and ankles after 1 weekend. Ouch!

BTW, I'm in a different Helderberg range, SW of Albany, NY.
Helderberg is from where I was born and brought up, Helderberg Ave in Schenectady NY. I had a residential Plumbing business and worked the tri-cities for over 40 years.
Be safe, Frank.
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Old 06-10-22, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
Helderberg is from where I was born and brought up, Helderberg Ave in Schenectady NY. I had a residential Plumbing business and worked the tri-cities for over 40 years.
Be safe, Frank.
Hah! For some reason I thought there was a Helderberg Mt in NC, what a good turnaround.


Though, sometimes I worry my mind is going away, like HAL 9000. In fact, I was ABSOLUTELY SURE there was a Helderberg in NC, but nope, it's in South Africa which is nothing like or near North Carolina.
Daaaisy, Daaaisyyy...

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Old 06-10-22, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
I

Old photo and I know the bars are "wrong" but need to have it this way because of my arthritis.
Then they're not wrong -- whatever keeps you rockin!
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Old 06-10-22, 06:23 PM
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im 50 and had a knee replacement last year plus 2 other knee surgeries (same knee) before that -- and now the "good" knee is acting a little cranky, but i have no issue with clipless pedals --- if you can get a pair with adjustable tension, just keep the tension as light as possible
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Old 06-10-22, 09:24 PM
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There's a new study out which says that nothing helps "bad knees" as much as simply walking. I believe it. My secret weapon for staying uninjured has been to go hiking or snowshoeing in the mountains the day after my weekly hard group ride. SPD pedals are very easily adjustable. I use them with MTB shoes, which are walkable.
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Old 06-11-22, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
There's a new study out which says that nothing helps "bad knees" as much as simply walking. I believe it. My secret weapon for staying uninjured has been to go hiking or snowshoeing in the mountains the day after my weekly hard group ride. SPD pedals are very easily adjustable. I use them with MTB shoes, which are walkable.
I was prescribed walking by my Physical Therapist after back surgery in 2001. The same doctor/therapist group told me I would never ride a bike again but who listens to them. I have found walking to be very helpful for my back but had not considered it beneficial for my knees. Now we have a dog so I have another excuse to get out of the house after my ride because I need to walk the dog. Thanks all for your input. Going to look into the SPD-style shoes and cleats now.
Thanks again everyone for your help.
Frank.
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Old 06-12-22, 07:34 AM
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Three things have helped my knee which my orthopedic surgeon says is to be replaced soon. I have found a lot of variability in cleat release even in the same brand and model and have bought and sold and lubricated until happy and just recently I lowered my typical 172.5 &175 crank arms to 165 mm and found the higher cadence and lowers force have helped. The third was playing with saddle height, I have reduced it by nearly 5%, how this might help is a mystery and I would not recommend. As DMC707 said people don't understand arthritis accommodations to stay in the saddle until arthritis visits them.
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Old 06-12-22, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by easyupbug View Post
Three things have helped my knee which my orthopedic surgeon says is to be replaced soon. I have found a lot of variability in cleat release even in the same brand and model and have bought and sold and lubricated until happy and just recently I lowered my typical 172.5 &175 crank arms to 165 mm and found the higher cadence and lowers force have helped. The third was playing with saddle height, I have reduced it by nearly 5%, how this might help is a mystery and I would not recommend. As DMC707 said people don't understand arthritis accommodations to stay in the saddle until arthritis visits them.
Thanks for your response. I swapped out my 175mm and 172.5 mm crankset for 165mm on both of my bikes. I am now working on saddle height and so far the crank length has made the most notable difference. As I stated previously the area I live in is all hills even my driveway. The 2x crank and 11 speeds are what I use the most, the other bike is 2x by 9, as the 11 allows me to keep a cadence that is comfortable. What I mean by comfortable is that I strive for a consistent load on my legs, pressure, and cadence, and the close ratio of the 11 speeds helps a ton. If I could I would go to a 12-speed or change the rear cassette to an 11-36. I know it would screw up my close ratio but the lower gear would make some of the steeper hills easier on my knees and hips.
I have been reading through the responses to my query and thinking about what I am really looking for and I realize that I am trying to make up for not getting that Corvette I wanted as a young man with a family and mortgage and a new struggling business. I guess I am looking to get that Corvette or Porsche in my last bike. I should probably act my age and get a new set of wheels and call it a day. Just go ride right. Thanks all.
Frank.
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Old 06-12-22, 11:47 AM
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With all due respect to everyone here, but you can continue to adjust seat height, double/triple-check bike fit, adjust cleats, etc. But the fact is that the entire body needs to be worked as we age, to ensure healthy knees as well as all other parts of our musculoskeletal system. Weight training is the best way to address this approach to knee health as we continue to age -- NOT adjusting to new pains, rather find new ways to make the body grow stronger.

There is no such thing as maintaining knee health or any other type of health, simply because if you cycle consistently your body has adapted to this activity very well and has learned every trick to make it as easy as possible, that's why we are so freakin' efficient in our pedaling compared to people that only occasionally cycle. However, you are losing muscle mass every year, in other words, Mother Nature is beating you down, despite how much you cycle.

With weight training you can always be throwing curve balls at your body, forcing it to adapt and build new muscle. Fighting back against Mother Nature's attempts to break you down, which she started doing in our 30's. That's just a sad fact of life. I'm under no illusions; Mother Nature will eventually win, but the goal is to stay healthy and independent as long as possible.

The day I need to have someone help me off the toilet is the day when I'm going out to the mountains and punch Sasquatch in the face


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Old 06-12-22, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
With all due respect to everyone here, but you can continue to adjust seat height, double/triple-check bike fit, adjust cleats, etc. But the fact is that the entire body needs to be worked as we age, to ensure healthy knees as well as all other parts of our musculoskeletal system. Weight training is the best way to address this approach to knee health as we continue to age -- NOT adjusting to new pains, rather find new ways to make the body grow stronger.

There is no such thing as maintaining knee health or any other type of health, simply because if you cycle consistently your body has adapted to this activity very well and has learned every trick to make it as easy as possible, that's why we are so freakin' efficient in our pedaling compared to people that only occasionally cycle. However, you are losing muscle mass every year, in other words, Mother Nature is beating you down, despite how much you cycle.

With weight training you can always be throwing curve balls at your body, forcing it to adapt and build new muscle. Fighting back against Mother Nature's attempts to break you down, which she started doing in our 30's. That's just a sad fact of life. I'm under no illusions; Mother Nature will eventually win, but the goal is to stay healthy and independent as long as possible.

The day I need to have someone help me off the toilet is the day when I'm going out to the mountains and punch Sasquatch in the face


And all of this is why I walk, ride, do yoga, lift weights, and do bodyweight exercises. Your right that no matter what I do Mother Nature will ultimately win but I will try to live until I die.
Thanks for your response, Frank,
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Old 06-15-22, 07:10 AM
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I'm a hiker, much of it thru the Appalachian mountains, so I do like walking. However, for most of us old folks, walking is just not enough. I'm NOT saying anyone here is saying all you need is walking, but I've heard others say that and this shows that walking is not enough for our aging musculoskeletal system.

I think too many of us has been fooled by the health industry into believing high-impact exercise is bad. That's just wrong, life is high-impact.

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