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Legs Hurt - Quads

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Old 06-29-09, 01:36 PM
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Ex-Floridian
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Legs Hurt - Quads

I've been riding pretty seriously for around the last 3-4 years, I'm 52, 6'2" and 235. I live in Charlottesville, Virginia. We have great biking country, although there not too keen on Bike Paths on these rural roads and the roads are rather hilly. Anyway I find sometimes that my quads just feel like there killing me. I don't think I'm over training but last week I took 5 days off because my legs felt shot. Road 20 miles yesterday and felt really strong. Do you all experience the same thing and is rest the only remedy..
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Old 06-29-09, 02:11 PM
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Not really, but rest works...60, 6 feet and 170. You have to carry 65 more pounds up the hill than I do. We only have hilly terrain about 70 feet per mile. However, what is your riding position i.e. flat back in the drops, angle in the drops or upright?
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Old 06-29-09, 02:38 PM
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I have a major problem with my knees- If I allow it.

Strong Quad muscles are my key to keeping the knees from barking and I have had to work on them over the years. So improve the quads and you will be OK- they will improve- believe me.

But on the bike- I do a couple of things that make me realise how stupid I have been. Uphills and in a high gear- low cadence and I will feel a twinge in the quads occasionally. Not easy to up cadence or change down when you are in the lowest gear up a 15% hill.

Like Hermes- I am lighter and shorter than you and I ride a compact double gear set up. 34/27 will get me up any hill in my area- but due to getting older and planning a few longer hills with lots of hills- I am setting up a bike to give me 34/34 gearing. Those lower gears will save the knees when the slope gets steep.

My own advice is to rest the legs if you have a ride where they hurt the following day. Take a less hilly route or ride with a higher cadence on the next ride. Find some exercises to get the quad muscles stronger- and to get lower gearing on the bike- Or use lower if you already have it.
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Old 06-29-09, 02:46 PM
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May Be relevent, or may not. I had pain in my quads when I rode. When I got properly fitted on my bike, both saddle height and position, the quad pain went away.

YMMV!
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Old 06-29-09, 05:17 PM
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If something doesn't hurt, you aren't trying hard enough.
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Old 06-29-09, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Ex-Floridian View Post
I live in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I lived and biked there for 15 years - moved in 2001. I know most of those roads. Yes - there can be some real challenging hills up against the Blue Ridge. Where do you ride, Whitehall, Crozet, or other?
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Old 06-29-09, 07:17 PM
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What do you do when you get home from the ride? Elevate, hydrate, massage, cold soaks? The Pros do all and then some.

My routine is get replenished within first 30 minutes after ride - liquids, power shake etc. Then I elevate the legs on a stool, and start massaging them with one of the knobby ball rollers with the handle. Check the current Bicycling Mag. article on massage ideas.

The pros have hi-techy leg cooling systems to aid recovery.

Your problem may the fit, it could be both fit and post-ride recovery - it could be neither but, all of the above are standard practice for a lot of big-mile riders.
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Old 06-29-09, 09:11 PM
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I do a lot of hill climbing and hill repeats, One of my favourite hills results in me doing 124 feet of vertical per mile. I did an example ride on Sunday that was 39 miles total. In that 39 miles I gained 4700 feet of vertical.

I sometimes get very sore legs, quads and around the top of my knees.

What I have found helps a lot is this:

1) Good endurance drink while riding

2) Recovery drink ASAP when you get in from riding

3) try and elevate the legs for 10 or 15 minutes after riding

4) during the part of the year where I am doing a lot of hill repeats - I go for a massage at the sports physio place once a week. That opens my legs up like nothing else.

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Old 06-30-09, 03:17 AM
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If your not using clipless pedals you might want to try them as they will spread the workload to other muscle groups besides the quads. If your already using them are you also feeling the workout in the other muscle groups like hammies and glutes? You should be if you've adjusted your pedaling style to take full advantage of what clipless pedals have to offer.
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Old 06-30-09, 04:52 AM
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This is not going to be helpful to your question but I wanted to add that we had a great time on Bike Virginia in Charlottesville last week. They opened up the road and let us climb up the mountain to Monticello. Now those are some hills. I saw 12-15% on my GPS and somebody else said he saw 17%. I'm going to have to get down that way a bit more often!
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Old 06-30-09, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
I have a major problem with my knees- If I allow it.

Strong Quad muscles are my key to keeping the knees from barking and I have had to work on them over the years. So improve the quads and you will be OK- they will improve- believe me.
Same here. Strong quads seem to keep my knees stable.

If you're feeling flat once in a while, take a day off, or an easy day--go easy for an hour or two and make a point of staying out of the big ring.
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Old 06-30-09, 12:49 PM
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I bet you must be trying to keep up with JetTravis!!

Seriously, you might try spinning more using an easier gear with a higher cadence for a while. Try and keep your cadence at 80+ for climbing.
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Old 06-30-09, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed in GA View Post
May Be relevent, or may not. I had pain in my quads when I rode. When I got properly fitted on my bike, both saddle height and position, the quad pain went away.

YMMV!
It does sound like a fit problem. I have not had quad problems after biking but last week I ran for the first time in about 9 months, only 2.4 miles with some small, and I mean small inclines. My quads hurt so bad I could barely walk up and down stairs for about 2-3 days! Couldn't believe it. So, while I am sure you use quads while biking, I think we use calves, hamstrings, glutes more. I think you need to check fit, riding position.
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Old 06-30-09, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Timtruro View Post
It does sound like a fit problem. I have not had quad problems after biking but last week I ran for the first time in about 9 months, only 2.4 miles with some small, and I mean small inclines. My quads hurt so bad I could barely walk up and down stairs for about 2-3 days! Couldn't believe it. So, while I am sure you use quads while biking, I think we use calves, hamstrings, glutes more. I think you need to check fit, riding position.
You might have a good point. Would double check the saddle height first??
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Old 06-30-09, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jppe View Post
You might have a good point. Would double check the saddle height first??
Yes, saddle height and fore and aft positioning, where are you relative to the pedals, then look at the the stem height. Make sure your knees are only slightly bent at the bottom of the stroke. Too much bend will rip up the quads.
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Old 06-30-09, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Timtruro View Post
Yes, saddle height and fore and aft positioning, where are you relative to the pedals, then look at the the stem height. Make sure your knees are only slightly bent at the bottom of the stroke. Too much bend will rip up the quads.
So asking a obvious question here...too much bend means the seat is too low?
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Old 06-30-09, 07:32 PM
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A few comments:
  1. FIT would be the first thing. I make sure that the saddle is positioned properly fore & aft (with the pedal horizontal, your knee should be really close to the pedal spindle). Then seat height - Just a tiny bend of the knee when you are fully extended, or, when spinning don't rock your hips. This is generally quite higher than most people think.
  2. RPM - make sure that you keep your pedal RPM above 80 all the time, target the 90s.
  3. Going uphill, don't "push", rather spin in a low gear and higher RPM. If you can't drop into a low gear and push VERY slowly so that you minimize stress.
  4. Learn to "ankle" when you pedal. This involves dropping your heel at the top of the stroke and "wiping" your foot at the bottom. You extend the power stroke when you do this.
  5. If it keeps happening, get off the bike every hour for 5 to 10 minutes and do some stretching.

Good luck.
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Old 06-30-09, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
This is not going to be helpful to your question but I wanted to add that we had a great time on Bike Virginia in Charlottesville last week. They opened up the road and let us climb up the mountain to Monticello. Now those are some hills. I saw 12-15% on my GPS and somebody else said he saw 17%. I'm going to have to get down that way a bit more often!
I biked that route many times and there are no 12% grades let alone 17%. Pure GPS error/grade inflation. It is a tough climb and I struggled to get up it - but I know I have never climbed anything over 12% and that was hell - Monticello was painful, not agony and certianly not hell. If you want hell - climb up Beechgrove road to Wintergreen past the resort and up to the BRPway. That is the only sustained 13% grade I know of and one hell of a ball buster - 1700 ft elevation change. This is a Mt Washington class climb if done 3 times Even the famous climb out of Vasuvius isn't this bad. I always wondered how VDOT kept it open in the winter.
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Old 06-30-09, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kr32 View Post
So asking a obvious question here...too much bend means the seat is too low?
Yes, but the key metric is the bend in the knee as your approach maximum force. Here is a picture of my wife in the Mount Tam hill climb race last year. I think it is close to perfection but I have to say that.

Note the slight bend in the right leg and the left leg is slightly less than 90 degrees but as the leg comes to the power position, it is at 90 degrees. Her arms are extended 90 degrees from her body with a bend in her arms reaching forward. Her forward lean enables the glutes to develop power and takes pressure off her quad and knees.

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Old 06-30-09, 09:40 PM
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It sounds like sore quads is a recent problem? Have you by any chance started taking a statin drug (e.g. lipitor, etc)?
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Old 07-01-09, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by kr32 View Post
So asking a obvious question here...too much bend means the seat is too low?
correct. too low
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Old 07-02-09, 09:59 AM
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Quad's Hurt

Thanks for all who replied and I'll give some of these idea a try. I most definitely try to replenish fluids and eat just after riding. I have two bikes so I don't think the fit is the issue, both with triple cranks. I live out near Zion Crossroads and we don't really have much totally flat roads. Probably just age and since I'm not a light weight, use the quads alot for climbing the hills.
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Old 07-02-09, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Ex-Floridian View Post
I live out near Zion Crossroads and we don't really have much totally flat roads. Probably just age and since I'm not a light weight, use the quads alot for climbing the hills.
Zions Crossroads is really a bit east of the mountians. I did most of my riding west and north of you - I lived just south of Ruckersville and would ride west of Earlysville and also west of Charlottesville near Crozet and Afton or South of 64. There was a good bicycle club when I lived there, also an excellent bike shop Blue Wheel Bikes run by Scott Paisley (also an independent frame builder). They should be able to hook you up with the club and address any equipment issues you may have. Enjoy the living there - it is great. Catch the summer Shakespear at the Barboursville ruins if they are still doing it and enjoy the local wines. Also - Afton is home to the world famous cookie lady - if she is still alive.
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Old 07-03-09, 07:26 PM
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Occam's Razor says "Ride more.".
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