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Help with clipless pedals - Left knee pain - I've tried so many things

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Help with clipless pedals - Left knee pain - I've tried so many things

Old 04-25-20, 05:11 PM
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howardv
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Help with clipless pedals - Left knee pain - I've tried so many things

I've been fighting with knee pain and clipless pedals for quite some time. Eventually I get frustrated and go with flat pedals, only to try clipless again cause I really miss it. Problem is I get knee pain (left knee only) after 30+ mile rides. I never have any knee pain with flat pedals.

I've tried Shimano road clipless. Then I got the +4mm Ultegra pedals. I've also tried Shimano mountain biking pedals/shoes. And two days ago, I bought Speedplay Zero pedals. With all of these, I go on test rides with my tools and try to make adjustments during my rides. I even mess with my saddle. But still have pain in my left knee. I eventually got an appointment for a bike fit, but it got cancelled due to the current pandemic.

The problem is that upon standing naturally, my left foot points out. The attached pic show my foot positioning on a flat pedal during a ride. I need clipless pedals with a longer spindle. The +4mm Shimano wasn't quite enough, so I added a couple of washers to space it out further, But the problem is that there isn't enough play to angle my heel inside. Same issue with the Speedplay, where it allows 15 degrees of play, it's not enough. I need to angle my heel further inside than what Speedplay allows (and I need to find a longer spindle, which has been impossible to find - even from the dealer).

There are solutions for longer spindles, but I haven't found a solution to being able to twist my heel in further. Any advice?

My natural stance on a flat pedal.
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Old 04-26-20, 03:50 PM
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I have a troublesome right knee that causes some discomfort, not outright pain, no and then. I frequently do knee exercises using lateral movements to strengthen the knee. This works wonders almost immediately. I also use kinesthetic tape during flare ups. https://www.kttape.com/?SID=4ea395ed...cb60d546b0702a The videos have instruction on how to apply the tape. This can be worn for several days through several showers.

I would also suggest moving cleats as far back as possible on a trial basis. Good luck with this.
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Old 04-26-20, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by howardv View Post
There are solutions for longer spindles, but I haven't found a solution to being able to twist my heel in further.
Well, both of my feet point out as your left one. It is actually very easy to change SPD (mountain) cleat angle to force feet to be completely straight (or even point inward) but the result of this will be exactly what you experience - pain in the knees. So, my guess will be that your pain is actually caused by your attempt to make your feet be straight by mounting cleats at an angle.

I was actually able to force feet to go much straighter by mounting cleats at an angle - but not completely straight. It is very tricky - a tiny, tiny change in cleat angle (like one or two degrees) can cause really bad knee pain. So it was quite a process to find a cleat angle that resulted in minimum amount of chainstay heel strikes and was not causing pain. Even then it took a couple of weeks for knees to adapt, it was quite a bit uncomfortable/tiresome at first - but not right away painful. Also, an important note - cleat angle change on one side can easily cause pain not only on the same side but also on another. I think this is because the whole body may rotate slightly on the saddle, so that the feet position in relation to the rest of the leg and the body remains the same (toed out - even though it it'll be parallel to a bike frame) - obviously it means that another feet will be forced to become toed in (again, in relation to the body - it'll be parallel to the bike) which it may not like very much.

Still, I'm considering getting pedal spindle extenders - you do realize that if your feet (and so heels) will be farther away from chainstains (and cranks) then even being not perfectly straight there is a good chance they'll not touch them? Also, by mounting cleats as far back as possible you are also making heels farther away from bike parts - but at the same time you'll be increasing (or creating) a toe overlap with the front wheel.
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Old 04-27-20, 11:44 AM
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My guess is that the OP is saying that if his foot is angled comfortably, his heel hits the crankarm, chain stays, or both. On his flats, he just moves his foot out far enough so that his heel misses everything. Can't do that with clipless, no matter how the float is adjusted.

One very simple thing you can try is moving your cleats all the way back on your MTB shoes with the SPD pedals. Google: "cycling move cleats back".
Some people drill holes in their shoe soles to move the cleats even further back. Obviously moving cleats back will move your heel forward, very possibly enough to clear. If it works with the bad leg, move the cleats back on the other shoe too.

Another, possibly better thing to try is stretching to make your knees move flexible. Knee problems can usually be fixed by stretching. What hurts on that knee is probably a swollen bursa, i.e. you get bursitis in that knee. Stretching slowly lengthens the tendons, taking the pressure off the bursa and thus fixing the problem.

I'd do both: move the cleats back and start stretching every morning. After maybe a month, try moving the cleats back so they're under the ball of your big toe again, see if that works.

These stretches: IT Band pain (during ride)
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Old 04-27-20, 12:24 PM
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Have you tried cleat wedges? With 0 cleat wedges, my right knee would always ache after a day of hard climbing. With one (1deg) wedge, it was better but I still didn’t feel locked in, and my feet still felt weird. And I still felt the need to have a slightly duckfooted stance. With 2 wedges, my stance is really narrow, feet pointed straight forward and I can blast all day with no consequences.

Some people say cleat wedges are a crutch for people who are biomechanically flawed and need to correct their muscles or flexibility or pedal stroke. I find this hard to believe. Cycling is an incredibly unnatural movement - your leg is going up and down and forward and backward at the same time. You also need your feet to be perfectly flat against the pedal. There is no twisting of the ankle allowed. This isn’t an issue unless your knee is at an angle. Suddenly it gets way more complicated, and you’re relying heavily on the float mechanism. The fact is that float mechanisms don’t actually “float”. The harder you pedal, the more torsional force you’re putting on knee to be able to overcome the friction of the “float” in the pedal. Flat pedals have enough “fudge factor” for this to not be as much of an issue, especially with padded running shoes.

For many people, a narrow stance forces their feet to sit slightly canted, which is impossible with clipless systems. That’s where the wedges come in. 1-3 degrees of cant is almost imperceptible to the eye but it makes a massive difference to comfort and alignment, especially over the course of multiple hours.

I highly, highly recommend trying to figure out how to set up your pedals/cleats in a way such that your knees are pointed STRAIGHT ahead.

Last edited by smashndash; 04-27-20 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 04-27-20, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
I have a troublesome right knee that causes some discomfort, not outright pain, no and then. I frequently do knee exercises using lateral movements to strengthen the knee. This works wonders almost immediately. I also use kinesthetic tape during flare ups.
I believe my issue is beyond knee exercises as my left foot doesn't feel comfortable while clipped in. I need a proper fit first.

Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
Well, both of my feet point out as your left one. It is actually very easy to change SPD (mountain) cleat angle to force feet to be completely straight (or even point inward) but the result of this will be exactly what you experience - pain in the knees. So, my guess will be that your pain is actually caused by your attempt to make your feet be straight by mounting cleats at an angle.
I don't want to force my feet straight. I'm actually trying to force my feet so my heel would come closer to the crank. For example, while my heel will hit the crank with the Speededal using the standard 53mm spindle, if I use an extender, I need to angle my heel further inside (towards the crank), but the 15 degree adjustment (actual 7 degrees each way) is not enough.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
My guess is that the OP is saying that if his foot is angled comfortably, his heel hits the crankarm, chain stays, or both. On his flats, he just moves his foot out far enough so that his heel misses everything. Can't do that with clipless, no matter how the float is adjusted.

One very simple thing you can try is moving your cleats all the way back on your MTB shoes with the SPD pedals. Google: "cycling move cleats back".
Some people drill holes in their shoe soles to move the cleats even further back. Obviously moving cleats back will move your heel forward, very possibly enough to clear. If it works with the bad leg, move the cleats back on the other shoe too.

Another, possibly better thing to try is stretching to make your knees move flexible. Knee problems can usually be fixed by stretching. What hurts on that knee is probably a swollen bursa, i.e. you get bursitis in that knee. Stretching slowly lengthens the tendons, taking the pressure off the bursa and thus fixing the problem.
You got my problem correct! I have tried moving my cleats as far back and forward as possible. Further back helps, but not enough. A simple solution would be pedals that angle further. That's why I bought the Speedplay, hearing they can angle the most. And they're on the right track, but it just doesn't angle enough. I'm sure stretching and knee exercises will help, but I also need to feel comfortable.

Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Have you tried cleat wedges? With 0 cleat wedges, my right knee would always ache after a day of hard climbing. With one (1deg) wedge, it was better but I still didn’t feel locked in, and my feet still felt weird. And I still felt the need to have a slightly duckfooted stance. With 2 wedges, my stance is really narrow, feet pointed straight forward and I can blast all day with no consequences.
I have not tried wedges. Sounds interesting. Maybe I'll try it and see. Just very frustrated that they don't make cleats with more flexibility.

FYI, I went on a long canyon ride yesterday and used my old XT mountain pedals. One side is flat and the other side is SPD. I only clipped in on the steep sections and used the flat side for the regular sections of the road. My right foot was clipped in the whole time.
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Old 04-27-20, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by howardv View Post
I don't want to force my feet straight. I'm actually trying to force my feet so my heel would come closer to the crank. For example, while my heel will hit the crank with the Speededal using the standard 53mm spindle, if I use an extender, I need to angle my heel further inside (towards the crank), but the 15 degree adjustment (actual 7 degrees each way) is not enough.
Hmm, so, basically, you want to use extenders and maintain your natural feet angle - and you are saying that clipless pedals don't allow you to position your feet at sufficient angle? I don't have experience with road clipless but mountain-style two bolt SPD cleats can be mounted to the shoe at a very significant angle, definitely more than 7 degrees.
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Old 04-27-20, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
Hmm, so, basically, you want to use extenders and maintain your natural feet angle - and you are saying that clipless pedals don't allow you to position your feet at sufficient angle? I don't have experience with road clipless but mountain-style two bolt SPD cleats can be mounted to the shoe at a very significant angle, definitely more than 7 degrees.
I have the Simano two bolt SPD and have angled it as far as possible, but it wasn't enough. That was with about 8mm of extension on the pedals.

Anyways, I just spoke to a local bike fit person a few minutes ago on the phone and was able to get an appointment for tomorrow! Will update with results.
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Old 04-27-20, 02:42 PM
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My toes pointed out all my life, more when walking than when cycling. My knees trouble me but not terribly. I was having severe foot pain from cycling only. My podiatrist told me to move my cleats back. Big improvement. I had a bike mechanic do that even though I was confident I could do it myself. The mechanic had a gauge to make sure the feet would point forward. His point was that if the feet don't point forward, it stresses the knees, and each pedal stroke adds a little injury. I bore that in mind and then realized that my toes pointing out have caused my bunions. I was rolling the side of my feet as I walked. I've modified my gait so that I walk with my toes pointed forward.

Consider that this might describe you, at least to an extent. The fact that you are comfortable with your toes pointed out does not necessarily mean you should continue to do so.
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Old 04-27-20, 02:46 PM
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You can help straighten your feet relative to the frame by increasing saddle height. I've noticed a lower saddle causes my knees and toes stick out laterally away from the frame, whereas a higher saddle causes my toes and knees to point inward. It's just an option to consider but don't go too far with it if you already have knee pain. Too high a saddle will cause pain in back of the knee whereas too low of a saddle will create pain in front.

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Old 04-27-20, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by howardv View Post
I believe my issue is beyond knee exercises as my left foot doesn't feel comfortable while clipped in. I need a proper fit first.



I don't want to force my feet straight. I'm actually trying to force my feet so my heel would come closer to the crank. For example, while my heel will hit the crank with the Speededal using the standard 53mm spindle, if I use an extender, I need to angle my heel further inside (towards the crank), but the 15 degree adjustment (actual 7 degrees each way) is not enough.



You got my problem correct! I have tried moving my cleats as far back and forward as possible. Further back helps, but not enough. A simple solution would be pedals that angle further. That's why I bought the Speedplay, hearing they can angle the most. And they're on the right track, but it just doesn't angle enough. I'm sure stretching and knee exercises will help, but I also need to feel comfortable.



I have not tried wedges. Sounds interesting. Maybe I'll try it and see. Just very frustrated that they don't make cleats with more flexibility.

FYI, I went on a long canyon ride yesterday and used my old XT mountain pedals. One side is flat and the other side is SPD. I only clipped in on the steep sections and used the flat side for the regular sections of the road. My right foot was clipped in the whole time.
One assumes you've read this document: https://www.speedplay.com/pubs/instru....14FEB2013.pdf
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Old 05-01-20, 05:49 PM
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Crank length
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Old 05-03-20, 10:03 PM
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https://www.amazon.com/Pain-Free-Rev...ustomerReviews

This book has a good context for bio-mechanical issues. There is adapting the bike (shoes, bed, etc etc) to one's physical condition,

and there is working on the body to reduce the imbalances that are causing the issues.

In the "kinetic chain", knee problems are often the result of tightness/ misalignment in the hips and issues of arch support in the feet and ankles.

As the book author explains, the knee primarily wants to hinge in one plane, and if forced out of that by hips/ankles, it will complain.

Having a foot that turns out is probably not something that you were born with, but developed through injury, compensation,or even simple habit,

and working to correct it will pay off in the long run.

(apologies for the lecture)

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Old 05-30-20, 10:20 AM
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1) Non specific answers applied to very specific problem, with limited data. You could easily spend more on dodads than the cost of a good assessment with followup.
It's not expensive if it works. The wrong assessment, by the wrong person will probably produce the wrong answer. Just sayin'.
2) It is a tribute to human adaptability that standardized hardware designed for raceboyz fits anybody at all.
This is why god gave us the Dremel, as you do not appear to have an "over-the-counter" body, rather a custom job.
.

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Old 05-31-20, 03:20 PM
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newer offerings; Magnetic pedal retention Magnet in the pedal steel piece in the cleat pocket..

you put your foot on the pedalat a comfortable angle and change it as you see fit.. ...

pedal a good sized platform so wear any other shoes too.. without the steel piece..





...
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Old 06-01-20, 12:01 PM
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I was having issues with my right knee and tried everything I could think of including switching to Speedplay pedals. I finally went to a physio that also does bike fits and she got me doing IT band stretches and put a wedge in my right shoe. Knock on wood, I have been riding pain free with this. I am still using the Speedplay pedals which I find have less resistance to rotation. You can also get longer spindles with the Speedplays but it could get expensive experimenting.
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Old 04-27-22, 05:20 PM
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Did you go to a clinic to get a knee diagnosis? It would be best if you did not avoid these knee pains. It is a good idea to consult an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible to detect your problem. I also had some knee problems that I didn't notice until they worsened. It hurt more and more every day, and when I went to make an advanced diagnosis at https://www.cameronmch.com/services/orthopedics/, he told me that if I went later to make a diagnostic, I would have ended up in surgery. So I don't think that's the problem with clips. You'd better take care of your knee.

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Old 04-29-22, 05:03 PM
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