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Old 09-17-07, 11:08 AM
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supton
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Soreness

Off and on I've had this soreness in my calves, but very much just in my left leg. It is located below the muscular knob of the calf but above ankle--the "flat" area on the back of my leg. It seems to flare up every time I add distance and/or bike harder. It seems worst when my legs are cold (overnight, or after an evening of TV, a few hours after the ride), but it does not ache like a sore muscle. I can flex it, full range, no problems--but when cold, descending stairs just feels like I'm all but tearing something, until that area warms up a bit.

I've been reading up on achilles tendonitis, but that seems much lower than where it is bothering me. Tendonitis seems to be listed as 2cm above the heel bone; my issue is about 6" or more above the heel.

I thought I had the seat set right, but now I'm thinking I need to drop my seat a couple millimeters maybe? I sat on my bike, got the seat so that my leg was straight when my foot was centered on the pedal (pedal axis under the arch), and then I recall bumping it just a bit more. I do ride with the pedal axis about centered on the ball of my foot--am I just asking too much of my calves given my fitness level? [Newbie rider, about 12 weeks/550miles total.]

Also: this is a used bike, so no precision fit at an LBS. I am now just starting to use toeclips, so my feet are moving around less; but that seems to not be helping/hurting the problem (other than making it easier to work harder, which may not help in the end). I try to be a spinner, but now that I think about it, it is possible that on rides where I am trying to crank harder up the hills (by not dropping all the way down in gears) I am probably dropping below 80rpm (but certainly not doing 45rpm).
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Old 09-17-07, 11:23 AM
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I had a similar problem last summer. It is likely from working a little too hard. Have you been doing other activities besides cycling? Just ice it down and get some Icy Hot or other pain relieving cream. When I got it I assumed it was tendonitis and got a neoprene calf sleeve to wear on it when I was working out. It helps to keep it warm. Ultimately you need to lighten up a bit and give it time to heal.
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Old 09-17-07, 01:51 PM
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Hmm, that is kinda what I was afraid of. I don't do other activities outside of cycling, so I easily get a day or two of rest inbetween rides. I try to get a couple of 12-14 mile rides in during the week, during which I try to push myself as "fast" rides; and then a longer weekend ride. Yesterday was a good riding day (fewer hills, faster speeds, and a few times I surprised myself at what I could power up sometimes), guess I'll have to take it a bit easier this week. I'm hoping for a long ride on Saturday (metric century maybe), so I hope it feels better by then!
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Old 09-17-07, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by supton View Post
I thought I had the seat set right, but now I'm thinking I need to drop my seat a couple millimeters maybe? I sat on my bike, got the seat so that my leg was straight when my foot was centered on the pedal (pedal axis under the arch), and then I recall bumping it just a bit more. I do ride with the pedal axis about centered on the ball of my foot--am I just asking too much of my calves given my fitness level? [Newbie rider, about 12 weeks/550miles total.]
It should be the heel over the pedal-spindle and a straight-leg. Your seat might be too high. Re-check your seat-height by placing your heel on the pedal and spinning backwards until the crankarm is parallel to the seat-tube.

Originally Posted by supton View Post
Also: this is a used bike, so no precision fit at an LBS. I am now just starting to use toeclips, so my feet are moving around less; but that seems to not be helping/hurting the problem (other than making it easier to work harder, which may not help in the end). I try to be a spinner, but now that I think about it, it is possible that on rides where I am trying to crank harder up the hills (by not dropping all the way down in gears) I am probably dropping below 80rpm (but certainly not doing 45rpm).
Yeah, use easier gears.
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Old 09-17-07, 04:42 PM
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I've been getting tired on some hills; I'll be pushing 16km/hr in my 40/30, and just running out of steam. Yesterday, I was starting to crank a bit harder, 40/21, on some of the shorter hills. Maybe if I get a bike upgrade in the near future, I'll upgrade my computer too, and see about watching my cadence. That, and maybe go to a 34/46 crank instead of a 40/52, that'd certainly help on a few hills around here...

I'll redo my seat height, thanks for that.
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Old 09-19-07, 05:24 PM
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Ok, I dropped the seat 2mm. Then I went out for a ride, my sorta-regular 26km ride. Once I got going, I had to loosen the toe clips a bit: instead of riding with the pedal axle under the ball of my foot, it is now halfway between the ball and the center of the arch. I had to do this in an attempt to avoid my heel striking the crankarm. My right foot wasn't so bad, but my left foot was constantly hitting. Over time, I started trying to twist my foot a bit, and this action seems to bug my knee, as it is now achy (just the left one).

I found that I couldn't spin as fast, probably 10% slower (so like 80rpm instead of 90 or maybe upwards of 100), but that I could seem to push harder. Well, for a bit, as my legs just seemed to poop out quickly. I didn't feel like I got much of a workout though--while I worked up a bit of a sweat, my heart never got really pounding, instead my legs got tired. I did find that, just above my knees, all of the thigh muscle burning, instead of just the insides. The outsides of my calves feel like they got worked too. Actually, I think most of my lower left leg is now hurting.

There seems to be more to getting the bike settings correct than I thought! Maybe I should see if an LBS would be willing to spend a couple of minutes to see if I'm way wrong or what.
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Old 09-20-07, 11:30 AM
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Please go to your LBS for help getting a proper set up. It may cost a little bit but it sounds like you're going to wind up injuring yourself. It's not that easy to set up a bike. I can usually get the seat adjusted properly but there's a lot more involved. Let the pros help you.

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Old 09-21-07, 10:51 AM
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Yeah, I'll probably give in and ask about that. I don't want to, as it's not as if I'm going to drop $$$ to make the bike fit better--it's an old 80's frame, with mostly worn out parts, and toe straps too. I haven't even gotten the stem broken loose yet, so I'm not sure it's adjustable (and I think it's cranked up anyhow). I guess I really don't want to be told "this is totally not what you can use", as it's not as if I can just go dump $$$$ on a new perfectly fit bike.

I did just get a different frame bike, haven't gotten it going yet though (both bikes are 53cm frames, but the Panasonic is a 57cm TT, while the Schwinn is 53cm TT).

I recall now that a couple of years ago, I did some PT for a foot problem. I can't find the paperwork on it now, of course; but something about pronation (I think), tight calves, and a weak ankle. Found out that I could barely balance on my left foot, which is the side that my problems are more noticable on. I've been wearing New Balance high stability trainers as a result of that.

I'm going to go back to my old setup, and see what happens. Maybe it's all just a training thing: if I don't ride hard, not much problem. Ride hard(er), and it seems to flare up.
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Old 09-21-07, 12:16 PM
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Go see a doctor if this persists. A sports med specialist can have this thing figured out in 20 minutes.
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Old 09-21-07, 06:19 PM
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You might try stretching the calf for a few weeks. Calf stretches are easy, and you can do them while you're going almost anything else. Expect to wait four to six weeks before you see results, though.
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Old 10-01-07, 07:51 PM
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I did some more stretching of the calves last week. Didn't get any rides in during the week, so I tried to cram as much in on Saturday as I could. 48.7miles. Was dead at the 40mile mark but had to make it home. This time, this (tendonitis?) only struck my left leg. My right leg is fine. Two days later, it still bugs me, and hobbling around seems to have bothered some other muscles in my left ankle. Somewhere towards the end I did get a few pulses of pain in the front of my left knee, very front; but they went away.

I measured myself, 31" inseam, online calculators give a saddle height of 70cm; I have it set at 69cm--not bad. Maybe I actually need to higher.

Probably too much too soon; I've only been biking for 3 months, and 1000km. Way fun though. Time to stay off for a few days, not only sore but got a saddle sore too.
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Old 10-01-07, 09:14 PM
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If it's really tendonitis, then adjusting your saddle and taking a few rest days is not going to help at all. It will keep coming back until you rest it for a few months.

Take up a new sport until next spring.
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Old 10-02-07, 05:57 AM
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Must not be tendonitis then--it goes away after a few days. Probably just overstretched; once I got moving today I can barely notice it. And I haven't been taking aspirin/other meds, no ice/heat, but I am something of a couch potatoe. I think I'll just keep at it--keep stretching, try to get shorter rides, see what happens.

My wife, who is about my mirror in measurements, says she can barely ride my bike. Says she feels cramped on the bike, handlebars too close. Me, I found that I have to stretch out to ride the hoods--and the drops seem way out there. I'm wondering if that points to not enough flexing in my back, although I'm confused as to how my neck and shoulders are sore--that must be conditioning, once again. I thought a 57cm toptube was long for a 53cm seat tube bike; but I went to a fitting site yesterday and it seems that, for competitive riding, it was recommending a 70+cm toptube! [And a setback seatpost to boot.] I'm not looking for a competitive edge, just something that would feel comfortable for 3+ hours.
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Old 10-02-07, 09:12 AM
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i've read your posts and i'm going to suggest that maybe you're experiencing an aggravated nerve somewhere... possibly the beginnings of sciatica? or lower back pains?

i have several compromised and/or degenerative disks in my lower back... but i still have pain in my legs at times that stems from the nerves around these disks...

its a deep pain, and i can't point to an exact place and say that's where the hurt comes from... i have no problems moving or flexing... it just hurts...

comes and goes somewhat randomly... but i generally can tell that i may have problems if my but hurts when i ride... i take a naproxen 500 mg tablet immediately... it heads off the irritation on the nerve fairly well...

but i'm NOT a physician, just an old guy with similar problems there's a better than average chance that i'm lost way out in left field...

i'd see a medic about it...

good luck!

Last edited by mad mike; 10-02-07 at 09:14 AM. Reason: i rephrased the 2nd paragraph to make more sense...
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Old 10-02-07, 10:23 AM
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Nah, I can definately feel it only when I flex it under load--like on stairs. Just about fine when I'm resting. I'm leaning towards "it's all conditioning". Just pushing too hard too fast. Guess I stopped being 18 some 12--yikes, almost 13!--years ago.
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Old 10-02-07, 02:17 PM
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Have you considered a blood circulation problem? Viking gave you the best advice. Get a checkup and then worry about all the adjustments etc.
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Old 10-02-07, 07:14 PM
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I've been putting off getting a checkup, at least until I followed the last bit advice I got from the doc--lose some weight. I might give in. I did lose maybe 5lb, well short of the 30 I needed to lose.

I did some reading on pronation, and one site described what could happen from pronation. Tendonitis, tight calves, arch pain. Pretty much what bothers me. I'm guessing my problems have nothing to do with my bike setup--it's all from how I walk. Well, the biking is just working muscles/ligaments that are already abused, and it's not helping.
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Old 10-02-07, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by supton View Post
I've been putting off getting a checkup, at least until I followed the last bit advice I got from the doc--lose some weight. I might give in. I did lose maybe 5lb, well short of the 30 I needed to lose.

I did some reading on pronation, and one site described what could happen from pronation. Tendonitis, tight calves, arch pain. Pretty much what bothers me. I'm guessing my problems have nothing to do with my bike setup--it's all from how I walk. Well, the biking is just working muscles/ligaments that are already abused, and it's not helping.
Yeah, I would still recommend getting a referral to see a sports med specialist. I try to stay out of the doctor's office as much as possible, but sometimes it's by far better to go in sooner rather than later. A sports med specialist can possibly save you years of pain and experimentation. I waited two years to see a specialist and ruined my knee needlessly (which is why I am cycling). If you have insurance, get the referral.
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Old 10-03-07, 10:57 AM
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I gave in and went; get to go to PT next for stretching and more evaluation. Not tendonitis, but I didn't catch what muscle it was. Supposedly, the PT guy (or at least one of them) is an avid cyclist, so I should be in good hands.

For now, rest, ice, ibprofin, and shorter rides when I get back on. He did speak about clipless, so I might have to go shopping; I suspect I will need something that will lock my feet so as to keep my heels from hitting the crank arm (Speedplay Frogs was recommended by a coworker).
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Old 10-12-07, 09:49 AM
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Soleous muscle, just below the calf.

Alright, last weekend I messed with the bike. Found that I had put the saddle all the way forward on the rails, and that the height was maybe 70cm. I pushed it back on the rails, dropped it about 1.5cm (so as to get 69cm height, which is what the websites indicate), and then raised the quill up about 1cm past the max mark (that is, 1cm higher now). The top of the stem is probably 2cm below the saddle. I took a 14mile ride, and for once, my thighs (quads?) where actually sore. My speed was the same, didn't feel harder/easier, so couldn't be too bad.

Just got back from PT, where they have a person who does bike fits. She said I was pretty close; saddle was tilted down at 5 degrees, so that got tilted to zero; and then the height was bumped up 2mm or so. The remaining problem would be the cockpit: it's pretty easy for my elbows to hit my knees. So, need a different stem/quill of some sort, to raise the handlebars a bit.

At a 31" inseam, I'm wondering if 165mm cranks would help; and I am thinking about clipless, as I have a tendancy to rotate my foot inward (so the heel hits the crank). Anyhow, it seems the fit is ok, most of the soreness has gone down, I've got a bunch of stretches to do, and I'll see where it goes. See if I can get a few more rides in before it gets too cold.
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