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Starting to have knee pain - Is there a trick to cleat adjustment?

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Starting to have knee pain - Is there a trick to cleat adjustment?

Old 02-25-12, 11:14 AM
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bikerjp
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Starting to have knee pain - Is there a trick to cleat adjustment?

I switched to SPD-SL from SPD about 6 months ago. I'm using the 6 degree cleats. After a few rides I thought I had the cleats dialed in. Now, however, I'm starting to get sore knees. Nothing major yet but that's what I want to avoid.

If it tells you anything, they are not really sore during the ride, but are for a couple days after. My winter rides are around 90mins on average.

Are there any tricks or tips that can help me identify if I should go more heel out or heel in? Or even just move the whole cleat over? I've tried just walking and finding my natural position but that looks close to what I have so not very telling. Obviously I can just try something, but it took quite a while to notice anything and it might again. Thanks.
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Old 02-25-12, 11:38 AM
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It would be best if you went to a bike shop and paid to have them adjusted properly -- around $25. Most will do it for nothing when you buy a new pair of shoes or pedals.
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Old 02-25-12, 11:50 AM
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You don't mention in what way your knee hurts. So in general if it hurts in the front of your knee, your saddle is too low. Pain in the back means it's too high. Try spinning an easier gear, perhaps the crank is too long, foot too far forward on the pedal so try moving it back about a 1mm at a time; increase your float to 8 degrees, too little float can cause pain in side or front or rear of the knee. Here's a web site that goes into greater detail: https://www.cptips.com/knee.htm

Strengthen your outer gluts with lateral leg exercises like side lunges and side leg raises. Stretch your quads, iliotibial bands and hamstrings. These exercises will help to reduce and eliminate knee pain.
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Old 02-25-12, 11:56 AM
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Thanks for the tips and link. The thing that jumps out most quickly from there is low cadence in cold weather. That's kind of the case now though not sure what's considered low. My average over the last several rides has been 75-80 but those were climbing rides and I'm not a high cadence rider to begin with.

As for the pain, it's hard to localize. It's more a general soreness most often evident walking up stairs. If I had to I'd say it's mostly the frontal area and maybe more below the kneecap (as in lower on the leg not under).

I'm going for a ride so I'll try and pay attention to these things. Pretty sure my saddle height is okay.
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Old 02-25-12, 12:21 PM
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If your having cold temp knee problems then you need knee warmers. Cold knees can cause pain due to the health of the knee or the other factors suggested in the web site I gave aggravate it more when it's cold.

Low cadence is an average below 70 rpm, so your average of 75 to 80 is pretty good. Sure some pros ride at higher rpm but we're not pros, and not all pros run higher RPM either because like you it's not natural. However if you want you can try to work on your cadence by doing small speed increases of say upping the average to 78 to 83 for awhile, then once you get use to that try 80 to 85, and so on till you get to 90 to 95 range. But again, if it's not natural don't go beating your head if you don't feel good doing higher cadences.

Last edited by rekmeyata; 02-25-12 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 02-25-12, 01:42 PM
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One thing I did - as I started cycling years ago when my knees were in bad shape - was to use regular platform pedals on my commuter. That way there was no stress on my knees, I could put my foot naturally however it felt comfortable, and then see what that position was.

I started out on the road bike later with Speedplay LA's, which have plenty of float. I just set them up in a neutral position and it was no problem. When I wanted a more solid platform a year later I set up Keo's, trying to center them just how my foot was prone to settle in the LA's. It worked ok, but after three months I started having left knee issues. I fiddled around a bit here and there, and finally gave up and went back to the Speedplay's, and knees were all good again (after a month or so). Next year, I put the Keo's back on and used an angled wedge to fix my left knee tracking, which was the trick.

Long story short - once a knee is causing trouble, I'd recommend a bail-out to an easier platform for awhile to let it settle down. It can take a long time to cause a problem, and a long time for it to subside, and you need a known-good set-up to fall back on if you are eventually going to figure it out yourself. I still commute on platform pedals, and if you aren't racing or in group rides there's no great disadvantage there.
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Old 02-25-12, 01:54 PM
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I thought I should have my right toe out and heel in because that's the way I walk, but when put to the test my knee likes it better with the toe in and heel out. I am also using cleat shims which are wonderful is used properly.

The cold can add to the confusion, best to do things on a trainer. Lots of trial and error for me without going to a fitter, but that is part of the fun.
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Old 02-25-12, 02:23 PM
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Several thoughts.

Since you changed pedal types, make sure you kept your foot->pedal distance the same. The SPD-SL pedal/shoe combination may be thinner and therefore be like dropping your pedal a few mm.

When you're pedaling for a while, coast and see how much you can move your foot from one side to the other before starting to release your foot (i.e. how much float to the left and right). If the float amount is skewed to one side, it's possible that you're pushing to the limited side and not getting the movement your leg is looking for. You should rotate the cleat so it's centered on your "common" position, so you have good float either way. Or, if you tend to twist your foot one direction, give yourself float on that side.

Walking and pedaling are two different things relative to foot alignment. One won't necessarily follow the other.

There may be a little less flex in some direction with the new pedals. Maybe a twisting (i.e. your foot rocks side to side). The new pedals will have less flex and therefore be less forgiving of any adjustment errors.

Finally, it may be normal to have some knee soreness when ramping up a bit in effort/training. 90 minutes would normally be a bit short, but if I was smashing huge gears at 40 rpm the whole time, 90 minutes would make me sore too. So keep the effort level in mind too.

Update this thread with stuff you notice, someone will pipe up with an idea or two.
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Old 02-25-12, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
When you're pedaling for a while, coast and see how much you can move your foot from one side to the other before starting to release your foot (i.e. how much float to the left and right). If the float amount is skewed to one side, it's possible that you're pushing to the limited side and not getting the movement your leg is looking for. You should rotate the cleat so it's centered on your "common" position, so you have good float either way. Or, if you tend to twist your foot one direction, give yourself float on that side.
I've actually been trying to pay attention to this. When coasting, I slide the heel around a bit. Seems fairly centered and that is more or less what I was going for when I set up the cleats originally. They are kind of stiff though and don't really float well. I put a very small around of grease on the back part of the cleat today to see what would happen. They did seems to float a bit better. Knees are still a bit sore from before though so hard to tell if it helped but they don't feel worse.

One thing I noticed today was that my knees, in particular my right, don't track straight up and down. My right knee seems to flare out to the outside on the upstroke a bit. My right doesn't hurt more than the left though so maybe that's unrelated.

Weather is starting to warm up so I think I'm just going to keep an eye on things. If it seems to be getting worse maybe I'll put my SPDs back on or try some speedplays.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 02-25-12, 04:51 PM
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Maybe the issue you have is that the cleat you put in there have floating, maybe you don't need floating. Some people need it, some don't.

As for floating, that a cleat floats doesnt mean the cleat will move freely inside just in case.

From what u are saying now, big chance you need shims to get the knees in the right position. For the record no experience what so ever with the pedals u have, but some pedals brands and models simply dont work with some riders. SPD and SPD-SL are totally different pedals man.

Many things to take in consideration to fix your problems, even it could be that your right leg ever trailed like that and you never noticed because you did not have any pain before, now it hurts and you just noticed everything that is weird in your pedaling.

My best guess is that you have the cleats put wrong, and you did not modified the saddle height when you changed the pedals and thats why the knees are messing you up now.

Good luck.

Last edited by ultraman6970; 02-25-12 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 02-25-12, 04:58 PM
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speedplay....problem solved.
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Old 02-25-12, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Nick Bain View Post
I thought I should have my right toe out and heel in because that's the way I walk, but when put to the test my knee likes it better with the toe in and heel out. I am also using cleat shims which are wonderful is used properly.

The cold can add to the confusion, best to do things on a trainer. Lots of trial and error for me without going to a fitter, but that is part of the fun.
Can you explain a little more what you did with shims and why you ended up with the set up you now have, thanks.
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Old 02-25-12, 05:14 PM
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A lot people have a problem with canted feet. Most have forefoot varus. Lemond wedges may be needed.

https://www.bikefit.com/articleslowtwitchempfield.php

I use X-type speedplay pedals, so I never have to worry about any limit to heel movement. I have forefoot valgus, only on the left foot and use a wedge on that cleat.

Knee pain can also be due to damage to the knee joint and no amount of tuning will cure that. I've had three surgeries for torn meniscus, which kept me going for a lot more years, but arthritis has now done so much damage that only a knee replacement will help.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 02-27-12 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 02-25-12, 05:21 PM
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When I set up cleats for float, I ballpark 'em in the middle and go for a ride. I pedal hard, maybe do some medium effort intervals or something, and stop with my feet level - then I twist one foot either in or out to see if I have play. If I do, great. I have adequate float. I repeat the process for both feet, and both directions. You have to be conscious to keep your feet exactly where they are falling naturally in the pedal stroke.

This has always worked for me, but of course there are tons of variables to cleat position. Best to talk to a pro.
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Old 02-25-12, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
When you're pedaling for a while, coast and see how much you can move your foot from one side to the other before starting to release your foot (i.e. how much float to the left and right). If the float amount is skewed to one side, it's possible that you're pushing to the limited side and not getting the movement your leg is looking for. You should rotate the cleat so it's centered on your "common" position, so you have good float either way. Or, if you tend to twist your foot one direction, give yourself float on that side.
I actually learned something valuable on BF today. Thinking about my cleat position, I remember thinking yesterday while on the trainer how my left foot seemed to be maxxed out in the heel out area. This reply my piece one of the few issues I've had together, thanks carpediemrcing.
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Old 02-25-12, 06:18 PM
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Did you have problems with the old cleats? Are you riding more now than you used to?

Lots of factors can lead lead to knee issues. Sometimes, its just your body complaining about your demanding more from it. Sometimes its a fit issue that can lead to injury if not corrected. Foam roller exercises helped me a lot. Its very hard to diagnose over a forum. The best we can do is tell you things we know that can cause problems, but it will be very difficult to nail exactly which one.

Good luck. I hate knee pain - especially when you legs feel like they can do more, but you knee says no.
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Old 02-25-12, 06:35 PM
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Another vote for Speedplays. Tried a buddy's SPD-SL's after only previous experience with Speedplays and I couldn't handle it. I was very uncomfortable and instantly wanted unrestricted float back. I rode the Shimanos for 2 hours and I could feel it in my knees. Not pain so much as strain, but I think if I kept using them they would hurt. Everyone is different, but the Speedplays are definitely easier on the knees.
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Old 02-25-12, 10:20 PM
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Lots of factors can lead lead to knee issues. Sometimes, its just your body complaining about your demanding more from it. Sometimes its a fit issue that can lead to injury if not corrected. Foam roller exercises helped me a lot. Its very hard to diagnose over a forum. The best we can do is tell you things we know that can cause problems, but it will be very difficult to nail exactly which one.
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Old 02-25-12, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by pallen View Post
Did you have problems with the old cleats? Are you riding more now than you used to?
No problems with the SPDs but I've been increasing my ride time/length too so hard to say what would have happened if I stayed with them. Right now, being winter, my rides are fewer and shorter so I'd say I'm riding less than in the summer.

Lots of factors can lead lead to knee issues. Sometimes, its just your body complaining about your demanding more from it. Sometimes its a fit issue that can lead to injury if not corrected. Foam roller exercises helped me a lot. Its very hard to diagnose over a forum. The best we can do is tell you things we know that can cause problems, but it will be very difficult to nail exactly which one.

Good luck. I hate knee pain - especially when you legs feel like they can do more, but you knee says no.
Thanks. I know it's not really possible to diagnose over the net, but the various comments and tips are what I was looking for. I'm partly thinking it's not a biking issue at all. I have no rationale for that - just a hunch. I rode today and my knees feel better than a couple days ago which was after a shorter trainer ride. In any case, I'll explore the various suggestions and see if anything suggests a solution.
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Old 02-26-12, 01:54 AM
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knees are fussy. see those guys out in shorts when its 50? dont be one of those guys. keep them warm because the muscles are thin right there. wear knee warmers or some kind of tight. and dont grind big gears in winter right off that bat. warm up a bit. the general rule is if it under 60 keep your knees covered. oh yeah, and buy speedplays!
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Old 02-26-12, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by triumph.1 View Post
Can you explain a little more what you did with shims and why you ended up with the set up you now have, thanks.
It was very complicated since knees are affected by hip socket, toe angle and footbed angle, all variables which affect eachother. I mostly went by feel and the goal of getting a straiter leg as opposed to having the knee pointed in at the bottom of the stroke which can be caused by foot varus and depends on the factory shoe foot bed.

every persons situation will be different but ultimately I went with 2 degress to commpensate for foot varus and get the knee straiter, in doing so I also pointed my toes in which seemed to keep the knee from feeling like it was twisting but ironically allowed my knee to point in at the top of the pedal stroke yet remain straiter at the bottom of the stroke. Which sounds counter intuitive but you will see this on many pro time trialists, perhaps due to a tighter hip angle. Not that I am even close to a pro.

I also have a knee problem in my right knee. I was told once by a shop owner to jump in the air and see how my feet end up and that is how to determine toe angle. My right toe pointed out. However that just caused more knee pain and even foot pain. At the end of the day (or almost 2 years in my case) you wan't to feel almost nothing like you are one with the bike. I may still have to fine tune my right side or get a floater. I am using looks with 4.5 degrees of float, which I don't think you need much float if you can get your cleats dialed in properly.

Hope that is not too confusing.
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Old 02-26-12, 06:15 PM
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What's interesting is that of late there's been some speculation that going to short cranks, and shorter I mean down to as short as 145mm (!) will benefit the knees more and actually increase power a tad. The example I heard was trying to climb stairs with a several large steps or many smaller steps, and many smaller steps was easier and faster because the distance of the knee being lifted to make the step. And now there are some pros using smaller cranks. But once the crank arm length got below 125 then the power dropped off fast. So maybe due to the testing getting a smaller crank arms at 165 as offered by SRAM would be more beneficial for people with knee issues??

https://myworldfromabicycle.blogspot....-you-just.html
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Old 02-27-12, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by triumph.1 View Post
Can you explain a little more what you did with shims and why you ended up with the set up you now have, thanks.
I use the shims under one cleat. My knee would jut out about 1.25" or so just before the downstroke. One shim made it much better, two shims eliminated it and the pain I was getting.

I had no issues with the other leg (the shimmed leg had been previously broken and probably was not quite 100% normal)
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Old 02-27-12, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
speedplay....problem solved.
+1 worked for me
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Old 02-27-12, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
speedplay....problem solved.
Only if it's truly a lack of float issue. I may consider giving speedplays a try, but I'm not convinced it's an issue of just needing more float. The counter argument is that with tons of float no need to worry about cleat alignment. That may work, but I like my pedals and new ones cost money. I'm wondering if a shim might be more appropriate.
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