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SPD Pedals, shoes and knee pain.

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SPD Pedals, shoes and knee pain.

Old 03-05-14, 12:34 PM
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Mvcrash
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SPD Pedals, shoes and knee pain.

I recently purchased shoes and cleats to use with SPD pedals on my bike and on a spinning bike I use during the winter. Prior to the SPD stuff I've had absolutely no knee issue at all. After using the SPD shoes on a spinning bike twice, my left knee is bothering me. Nothing drastic, just not so normal ache which I think is coming from the patellar tendon. I was wondering if the connection to the pedals can be the issue since nothing else changed. I tried to utilize the upward motion as well as the pushing motion and thought this could be the issue since I've never been connected to the pedals before.

Any adive would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-05-14, 12:39 PM
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How did you determine where to place the cleats? Clear placement (and angle) can have a significant effect. For example, the further rearward the cleats are placed, the less your ankle will come into play effectively raising the seat a bit; this, alone, might be enough to affect your knee.
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Old 03-05-14, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
How did you determine where to place the cleats? Clear placement (and angle) can have a significant effect. For example, the further rearward the cleats are placed, the less your ankle will come into play effectively raising the seat a bit; this, alone, might be enough to affect your knee.
The cleats were placed by the bike shop guy who sold me the shoes and cleats. Does the cleat belong under the ball of my foot or futher back? Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-05-14, 01:00 PM
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I believe that the basic rule is that the cleat should be placed so that the ball of your foot is at the same point as the pedal spindle. You can move it fore and aft from that point to your taste.
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Old 03-05-14, 01:10 PM
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Don't put so much effort in to "pulling up" on the upstroke. There's a ton of info out there about spinning- pedaling circles. The emphasis is supposed to be smooth effort throughout the stroke. You are already getting a lot of power during the upstroke phase of the circle as the opposing foot is pushing down, but you are getting almost no power when the pedals are at 12 and 6 o'clock respectively- focus on pushing forward over the top and pulling back a little on the bottom. For the upstroke, don't think about "getting power", but rather just getting the leg up fast ready to put power in over the top. If on the upstroke the pressure on your shoe is moving off the sole, without actually pushing up hard against the upper, that's enough.
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Old 03-05-14, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
I believe that the basic rule is that the cleat should be placed so that the ball of your foot is at the same point as the pedal spindle. You can move it fore and aft from that point to your taste.
Thanks, I'll make sure the cleat is properly placed.
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Old 03-05-14, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Don't put so much effort in to "pulling up" on the upstroke. There's a ton of info out there about spinning- pedaling circles. The emphasis is supposed to be smooth effort throughout the stroke. You are already getting a lot of power during the upstroke phase of the circle as the opposing foot is pushing down, but you are getting almost no power when the pedals are at 12 and 6 o'clock respectively- focus on pushing forward over the top and pulling back a little on the bottom. For the upstroke, don't think about "getting power", but rather just getting the leg up fast ready to put power in over the top. If on the upstroke the pressure on your shoe is moving off the sole, without actually pushing up hard against the upper, that's enough.
I will be careful about the upstroke. I think that is what the problem. Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-05-14, 01:13 PM
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I was having considerable problems with calve cramps until the cleats were moved well back. To get the cleats as far back as I wanted, it was necessary to extend the slots about a cm with a small rat tail file. Try moving the cleats back as far as they will go and see if that makes a difference. If so, you can then consider whether you wand to go even further back.
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Old 03-05-14, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Mvcrash View Post
I tried to utilize the upward motion as well as the pushing motion and thought this could be the issue since I've never been connected to the pedals before. Any adive would be greatly appreciated.
Simply "utilizing the upward motion," something your knees are not accustomed to, could be the source of the pain. I would advise to keep things where they are (cleat wise) and see if the knee pain goes away in a relatively short period of time. If not, changes may be necessary, but whenever making a big change like that (your pedaling motion) your body often takes awhile to adapt.

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Old 03-05-14, 01:37 PM
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Along with the cleat fore/aft adjustment and what other have said, you may also want to consider the angle of the cleat as well. If your toes are pointing away from the bike when pedaling then it's a good probability that your knee is also moving away from the bike. Riding with your knees parallel to the frame during the pedal stroke is more efficient than the knee moving in an outward position and will save your knees a lot of problems. Another thing to consider is that your left shoe may need (additional) shims, for support, in order to place the foot in the proper plane.
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Old 03-05-14, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by John_V View Post
Along with the cleat fore/aft adjustment and what other have said, you may also want to consider the angle of the cleat as well. If your toes are pointing away from the bike when pedaling then it's a good probability that your knee is also moving away from the bike. Riding with your knees perpendicular to the frame during the pedal stroke is more efficient than the knee moving in an outward position and will save your knees a lot of problems. Another thing to consider is that your left shoe may need (additional) shims, for support, in order to place the foot in the proper plane.
A quick self test for this setting is to concentrate on your pedal while riding; is your cleat\foot at the limit of the pedal float? If it is at either the inboard or outboard limit, then it probably needs an adjustment. It will feel like you are just about to unclip. Make your adjustment is small increments, 1 or 2 degrees at a time.
Good Luck
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Old 03-05-14, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Mvcrash View Post
I will be careful about the upstroke. I think that is what the problem. Thanks for the help.
I agree, but please update as you work through this. People think that they have to do something different when they first get cleats. What they need to do is adjust their shoes, cleats, pedal, and seat post so they aren't doing anything different, at least to begin with.

I'm a big fan of slamming my cleats back on the base of my shoes as far a possible. Lots of information on cleat selection, adjustment, etc. on Steve Hogg's website, but that's all a bit too much at this point. For future reference : https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com

Good luck, and again, please post follow-up.
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Old 03-05-14, 11:38 PM
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My stoker/wife tried clipless pedals on our tandem. She developed knee issues and asked for me to put regular pedals back on with mountain bike toeclips. Problem solved.
Seems the clipless did not have enough float to suit her pedaling style.
That from a woman who has done over 200,000 miles of cycling.
Pedal on!
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Old 03-05-14, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
My stoker/wife tried clipless pedals on our tandem. She developed knee issues and asked for me to put regular pedals back on with mountain bike toeclips. Problem solved.
Seems the clipless did not have enough float to suit her pedaling style.
That from a woman who has done over 200,000 miles of cycling.
Pedal on!
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This is the 50+ forum and not the 41, so I think we're all old enough to agree that people should do what works for them, rather than what one is "supposed" to do. But with that said, if the OP can get clipless pedals to work for him, it's worth a little effort to try to get it right. For many of us, the clipless experience really is a much more enjoyable way to ride. OTOH, if he experiments for a while and the clips keep causing pain, then maybe he can get a good price for the shoes and pedals on eBay (never used outside!) and enjoy riding w/o pain.
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Old 03-06-14, 03:54 AM
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Make sure you don't have a toe out posture that might be restricted by the cleat angle not being right for you. If you tend to walk with toe out, you'll want to ride that way and need any cleats to be able to accommodate that angle. The first thing that happens when you restrict your foot from it's natural angle posture is sharp knee soreness after a ride. I know this because I have a severe case of toe out posture that I've always had to consider with the older fashioned caged quill pedal cleats.

One reason I haven't gone to clipless yet is because there are only a couple that might adjust to my radical angle and I don't feel like gambling on a purchase without knowing whether they'll adjust enough for me.

If you don't walk or stand with toe out, this probably doesn't apply to you.

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Old 03-06-14, 05:32 AM
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Thanks to all for all the great information. Right now I am giving the knee a few days to heal. I think I'll lay off the cleats until I can get to the local bike shop with the shoes and bike to see if I need any adjustments. Inside, on the spinning bike I'll just go back to the regular pedals. I only decided to use the cleats on the spinner to learn how to get in/out of the clips before venturing outside.

Once again, thanks for all the great advice. The pain seems to be deminishing quickly and now is only very local to the lower medial area. My daughter who is an Exercise Physiology grad student made it kind of simple. "If you made a change that causes pain, STOP."

I'd still like to be able to use the SPD outside to prevent an achilles problem if I slip off the pedals again.
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Old 03-06-14, 06:39 AM
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Lots of good suggestions, including reference to foot angle (pronation); that's a very likely source of the problem.
Are your spd cleats two-bolt? If so, you should be able to angle them sufficiently (in or out) to line each foot up on the pedal to mimic your natural posture: toe in, toe out, dead straight ahead.
Simple test: walk around the house barefoot for a bit, then sit on e.g. a table. Let you legs 'dangle' freely from the knee -- relax. Each foot will 'hang' in its natural position. My left, for example, is only very very slightly 'toes out' -- pedal float deals with that. My right is distinctly toes-out, relatively speaking; I've adjusted cleats accordingly so that my right foot naturally sits on the pedal at roughly the same angle. (Right) knee issue gone.
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Old 03-06-14, 07:37 AM
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Bowlegged and right foot more toe out than left.

My cleats are adjusted so both feet are toes in with knees almost contacting top tube during rotation. Both knee trackings are dead on straight. Guess I'm weird.
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Old 03-06-14, 01:23 PM
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Again, thanks for all the great advice. I actually took notes from all the answers and will write back as soon as I figure things out. The last time I was on a bike was 3/4. Since things are feeling better I'll wait till Saturday or Sunday before trying to ride again.
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Old 03-06-14, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Mvcrash View Post
The cleats were placed by the bike shop guy who sold me the shoes and cleats. Does the cleat belong under the ball of my foot or futher back? Thanks for the help.
Normally the cleat is positioned so that the balls of your feet are over the pedal spindle.

BTW, Einstein probably never said the words in your sig file- there no evidence that he imagined for a minute that the universe is infinite - quite to the contrary, the general theory of relativity is not consistent with that proposition. See https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_einstein#Disputed
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Old 03-07-14, 06:41 AM
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Just to be sure we are talking about the same things a couple of questions. Are you using the 2 bolt SPD pedals, shoes and cleats or the 3 bolt SPD-SL set up? If you are using the 3 bolt SPD-SL what float degree cleat are you using? There are 3 float ranges available for the SPD-SL, 0, 4 and 6 that are color coded for their float (yellow for 6, can't remember what 0 and 4 are right off the top.)

I've gotten past my knee issue a few weeks ago, my seat height was just a touch high, cleats were alright at 6 and matched the marks on the bottom of my shoes, still. I used Lennard Zinn's book, Cycling Primer, to set up the fit, including the seat fore and aft for knee over the pedal placement. Very helpful book.

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Old 03-07-14, 07:47 AM
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OP-as you can tell there could be a number of possible causes and thus a number of potential solutions to the knee pain problem. If the pain is near the top of the patella "usually" that could mean a couple of things...well several actually. For one are you pushing a much harder gear than you are used to instead of spinning at 80-95 rpm.

If it is a fit or position issue, usually it is because the saddle is too low or too far forward. If it is just one knee hurting, the first step I take is to move the cleat that foot closer to the arch (this lengthen's the leg reach for that leg). If it is both knees then you might raise your saddle a couple mm's as the first change. Don't do a lot of different changes all at once. Start with one and see how it goes and then make additional adjustments as needed.
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Old 03-07-14, 08:43 AM
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I turned my cleats where my toes were pointing ever so slightly inward and it made them much more comfortable.
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Old 03-07-14, 09:15 AM
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OP I had a similar situation. Bought SPD's to try out on a spin bike. Had your same knee pain. Ended up taking them back to the local bike shop and exchanging them for Speed Play Froggers. Speed Plays have the extra float that I needed. Best bike accessory I've ever purchased. Unfortunately the cleats aren't compatible with my gyms spin bikes. Good luck finding a clipless set up that works for you.
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Old 03-07-14, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Normally the cleat is positioned so that the balls of your feet are over the pedal spindle.

BTW, Einstein probably never said the words in your sig file- there no evidence that he imagined for a minute that the universe is infinite - quite to the contrary, the general theory of relativity is not consistent with that proposition. See https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_einstein#Disputed

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/qu...ins100015.html


we all know wiki is always correct.


back the matter at hand:

I am using 2 bolt SPD cleats and it it is just one knee. The pain is at the bottom medial part of the knee where I think one of the ligaments connects. I've given a few days rest (since Wednesday) and it is much better. No pain whe going up and down stairs or walking or slow jog. I'll let it rest a few more days and then start to figure it all out.


Again, can't thank everyone enough for the advice. I use a bike to keep from having all the knee and leg injuries that my friends who jog seem to have. worse case I'll get toe clips to keep from slipping off the pedals and use the shoes without the cleats.
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