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Old 02-23-03, 01:56 AM   #1
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clipless for my sore knee?

hey there. back again with yet another newbie knee pain question. i've searched a bunch of threads on this board but couldn't find an answer to my question. i've put about 600 miles on a trek hybrid. the pedals i've been using are the plain platform stock ones. seems like those who use clipless pedals and have knee pain should look into the speedplays. . . i'm wondering if using flat non-clipless pedals are causing my pain, or if any type of clipless would make it worse.

the pain i feel is on the side of my leg about 2 to 3 inches laterally across from the side of my kneecap towards the back of my leg. i feel discomfort sometimes about 15 miles into a ride, and on those occasions when i do, i really feel it when i'm carrying my bike up the stairs. never had pain until this one session at the gym on a treadmill after a long time spent away from gyms and treadmills. anyway. . . i guess i should go in for a bike fitting. will they do a fitting for a hybrid with platform pedals? will clipless pedals hurt or help my situation?

i'm working on fine tuning my seat height. too high and my butt hurts from grinding against the seat. too low and sometimes my knee doesn't hurt. seems very random. guess i need to do some more longer ride sessions to get some more data.

oh, my knee never swells, and usually the next morning i am totally fine.

Last edited by kindbud; 02-23-03 at 02:56 AM.
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Old 02-23-03, 06:50 AM   #2
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I think clipless will help but you have to use them with some good form also. For me I need to be fitted over the pedal just about like the suggested knee over the spindle with the ball of the foot over the spindle and the sadle adjusted a little lower than the heal over the spindle sadle adjustment.
Having said that I find that it is very important that I am aware of the form I am using. I also have to make sure and keep my foot pointing forward and knees tucked in tward the top tube. It is also important for me to "spin" and not "crunch" the gears. If I push too high a gear my knees hurt in the same spot!

Hope you get it worked out.
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Old 02-23-03, 08:55 AM   #3
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I'm no Dr., but it almost sounds like a case of mild tendonitis given the location of the pain and that is most likely resulting from poor pedalling form. That said, even using toe-clips and straps would be an improvement over the platform pedals as they would help to improve your form and allow you to begin pedalling in circles (i.e., pulling up on the pedal through the back 1/2 of the pedal stroke). However, if you aren't budget constrained I'm a major advocate of clip-in pedals for anyone who plans on getting serious about bicycling for whatever reason. The speedplay pedals are also a very good option and I'd recommend using the Frogs with chromly spindles and a nice entry level MTB shoe with a lugged sole -- both of which could be obtained for under $200.

A good bike shop that has a certified bike fitter can work with anyone riding any type of bike. However, to be of real benefit you'll need to adopt some form of footwear and pedal system that will ensure your foot stays put.
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Old 02-23-03, 09:21 AM   #4
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if you feel the pain as a sharp and stabbing one on the outside of the knee it is usually the Iliotibial (IT) band, which is a fancy way of calling the connective tissue that acts as the lateral stabilizer of the thigh. Problems arise when the tendon rubs across the lateral bony protruberance on the outside of the knee --at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
Bow-legged, pigeon-toed riders are at the most risk for this ailment as are riders in combination with wide hips, knock-knees &/or flat feet.

This Iliotibial band friction syndrome is treated by LOWERING the saddle. The friction of the tendon on the bone occurs at 30 degrees of the knee bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke, so the lower saddle reduces the friction. Ice, advil/motrin help. there are stretch-over exercises you can do.

if the pain extends, or wraps around to the back of the knee it could be bursitis. lowering the saddle is in order for this as well. getting cleats with at least 5 degress of float with a firm endpoint works too.

note: when lowering or raising your saddle do so in very small increments. sometimes a little adjustment goes a long way. also: your saddle also moves horizontally, and sometimes you need to lower AND shift the saddle a bit forward (before the tip gets tilted)

and as always, see a qualified athletic trainer, physical therapist or physician if problem persists. Bicycling should not hurt like that.

p.s. i like the larger platform pedals. i tend to get what is called 'hot foot' with the smaller platforms. i use Look pp-256's.
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Old 02-23-03, 08:39 PM   #5
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I've had ligament damage and the cartilage removed from my left knee, my pain is not in the same spot as yours, it is under my knee cap accompanied by swelling, but ever since I got Bebops my knee has been much better. I chose them over the frogs because they are less finichy in the elements and you can clip out by twisting in towards the bike
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