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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 08-07-06, 12:30 PM   #1
sorsha6
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Anyone Here with Bad Knees?

As I'm about to delve into the world of fixed gear riding, I have some questions for those with bad knees. Between eight years of horseback riding and six years of retail my knees aren't quite what they used to be. It's not that they hurt all the time but I can't jog more than a half mile or so without causing myself fairly considerable pain. I've never had problems with geared riding, but I'm a little wary of pounding up hills on a fixie.
Anyone had any problems?
I'm pretty much going to try it out either way, just wondering what the general consensus is.

thanks
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Old 08-07-06, 12:36 PM   #2
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gear low, experiment with seat height, start out with shorter rides and work up to longer ones. when my knees get to hurting more than a dull ache, i switch over to the freewheel, or hop on the road bike.
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Old 08-07-06, 12:37 PM   #3
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i have osgood schlatter's disease, which is more or less me being too tall / growing too fast when i was young. so my tendons and ligaments and all that gross internal stuff is more or less RIPPED away from my knee caps. my knees hurt a lot.

but not really when i'm riding fixed. i think the fact that you don't stop moving is what keeps me from experiencing a considerable amount of pain. as long as my knees keep flexing, i'm good. and when i get off the bike i don't really feel considerable pain, just the amount i would after any workout.
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Old 08-07-06, 12:45 PM   #4
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i have osgood schlatter's disease
Same here. RICE those knees when they're sore (Rest - Ice - Compression - Elevation). Its important to make sure you give adequate recovery time (sometimes a few days off the bike is neccesary), and if you're noticing problems that won't go away, make sure you gear low and use your brake.
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Old 08-07-06, 12:53 PM   #5
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I just came off having orthoscopic surgery on my right knee for a torn ligiment. The hills don't bother it and spinning actually helps. The only thing that really hurts is applying a lot of backpressure. I run a front brake and use it on large descents and if I have to suddenly stop. I still resist for normal everyday slowing down.
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Old 08-07-06, 12:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sorsha6
As I'm about to delve into the world of fixed gear riding, I have some questions for those with bad knees. Between eight years of horseback riding and six years of retail my knees aren't quite what they used to be. It's not that they hurt all the time but I can't jog more than a half mile or so without causing myself fairly considerable pain. I've never had problems with geared riding, but I'm a little wary of pounding up hills on a fixie.
Anyone had any problems?
I'm pretty much going to try it out either way, just wondering what the general consensus is.

thanks
pounding up a hill shouldn't cause more knee pain on a fix then on a road bike. i think the pain comes from going down the hill and having to counterpedal/skid. a brake will save you a lot of knee pain.
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Old 08-07-06, 12:56 PM   #7
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A while back when I first started to ride my track bike, everytime I would climb a hill, or especially go down a hill (i ride brakeless in San Fran!) my knee would just give out. Afterwards, instead of healing it, I would just get back on it again, making the problem worse. Then, I went and bought some otc skin medicine for aches (a lil stronger than bengaye *spell*) Since the, I guess my knees have gotten used to the strain and no pain has happened since.
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Old 08-07-06, 12:59 PM   #8
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good advice posted here. build up slowly, stretch, and apply backpressure gradually instead of strong and sudden. gearing down to 71" helped my ride quite a bit. hiking/walking on natural terrain will help build up those knees and ankles.
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Old 08-07-06, 01:19 PM   #9
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Agree with eurotrash, good advice posted here.

One thing to keep in mind though is that one person's knee pain is not the same as someone else's knee pain. In other words, knee pain occurs for different reasons.

I have had knee pain in my right knee for years from playing various sports. I was at a doctor on Friday for another sports related injury when I took advantage and asked about my knee. The doctor confirmed my suspicions that there was some ligament issues, likely a partially torn ACL, but obviously not fully torn. Extent of the injury would be hard to tell without an MRI. Either way, the doc did some other tests and said that my quads were strong enough that I should be ok, but if I started to feel the knee give that I should undergo further tests.

I started biking a bit more seriously in the last 2 years and started riding fixed about 9 months ago. I have noticed that my knee pain has almost gone away since then. If you have weak or damage ligaments then strengthening the muscles around the knee should help, just don't overdo it.

To me the hardest part with pain is being able to determine whether it is sore from overwork or from injury.
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Old 08-07-06, 01:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by acavengo

To me the hardest part with pain is being able to determine whether it is sore from overwork or from injury.

I will second that. The second hardest thing is not pushing yourself too hard---sometimes you just want to go balls to the wall and enjoy the ride---you will pay for it later.

Stretch a lot and use a brake when stopping hard. On the descents--start applying backpressure the moment you clear the crest and go for a slow descent.
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Old 08-07-06, 02:02 PM   #11
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yeah i've heard alot about people getting their knees all ****ed after riding fixed for awhile. I hope it doesn't eventually happen to me.

That's probably another main reason to run a front brake cause after a lengthy time period of stopping real quick by just locking your legs and skidding/skipping i imagine your knees are torn apart
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Old 08-07-06, 08:19 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=If you have weak or damage ligaments then strengthening the muscles around the knee should help, just don't overdo it. To me the hardest part with pain is being able to determine whether it is sore from overwork or from injury.[/QUOTE]

Yah I agree, I dislocated BOTH knees exactly one year apart from each other. Took a full year to heal from it. I agree, it helps to strengthen your upper leg muscles. I switch my pedaling form from using my upper thighs, then getting my knees into it, then just using my calf muscles to pedal. It helps alot
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Old 08-07-06, 08:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodny71
pounding up a hill shouldn't cause more knee pain on a fix then on a road bike. i think the pain comes from going down the hill and having to counterpedal/skid. a brake will save you a lot of knee pain.
+1

Climbing is easy. Just stand up. Just like walking up the stairs. The tough part is going down hill. I'd say use the brake, but then it really isn't better than SS in that case.
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Old 08-07-06, 09:32 PM   #14
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i had great knees before riding fixed. i wasn't running a brake, so my knees were killing me when i has to bend down. i put a brake on and they were still killing me. that pain lasted a couple of months (4) now i can pop a squat anywhere with out any problems. I guess it all depends.
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Old 08-07-06, 09:36 PM   #15
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i dislocated my kneecap and tore some ligaments about a year ago and i was unable to ride any type of bike until about this past april. since then, its oddly more painful when i dont ride at least every other day. its an odd thing.
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Old 08-07-06, 09:52 PM   #16
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I have one bad knee...on long rides it starts to hurt (that's what I get for doing 540's on skis...landing backwards is hard on the knees). Recently I have come to realize that I compensate by pedaling harder with the other leg, which has resulted in my right leg being significantly stronger than the left. I'm currently doing "one legged" pedaling intervals on the flats to strengthen the left one back up and pedal nice circles again...
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Old 08-07-06, 10:05 PM   #17
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my left knee used to hurt after going on rides (no brakes - skid right foot forward) but hasn't hurt anywhere close to as much since gearing down from 49x17 to 49x19 to 49x20 and now 48x19.
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Old 08-07-06, 10:07 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by sprouts
i dislocated my kneecap and tore some ligaments about a year ago and i was unable to ride any type of bike until about this past april. since then, its oddly more painful when i dont ride at least every other day. its an odd thing.
Same here. Dislocated kneecap + torn ligaments while skiing. Now, when I am forced out of a bike for more than 2-3 days I feel instability (was there even before the accident) and walking is painful. I am a bike junkie.
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Old 08-07-06, 10:15 PM   #19
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Same here. Dislocated kneecap + torn ligaments while skiing. Now, when I am forced out of a bike for more than 2-3 days I feel instability (was there even before the accident) and walking is painful. I am a bike junkie.

its a healthy addiction, id rather be riding all the time and have my knee feel good than being lazy. using a knee braces/neoprene sleeve helps me out when it feels weak and unsupported.
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Old 08-08-06, 12:03 AM   #20
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bad knees? knee surgery history? ex-torn cartilage?

*raises hand*
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Old 08-08-06, 01:33 AM   #21
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Sorsha, if you plan to ride clipless mos def make sure that your fit is correct. I didn't realise one of my cleats was misaligned until after I sprained my LCL in a motorbike accident and tried to ride my bike again. That slight misalignment was enough to hurt like hell on my healing ankle. I probably wouldn't have noticed it until I was gradually crippled, otherwise.
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Old 08-08-06, 02:34 AM   #22
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Lessee, arthroscopy on left knee (torn medial meniscus, torn anterior cruciate ligament). Right knee 'goes out' if I do anything that involves torque under load.

After almost a year of fixed gear riding 46x17 in a somewhat hilly part of SoCal, knees have never felt better.

Advice here is good... take the ratio down low enough to be comfortable, ramp it up later as you get stronger. Keep both brakes on the bike and use them to stop, since it's much more stress to try to pull against the pedals (someone quoted 3x on these forums before). Really, really work the 'fit' on your bike until it feels like an extension of the body. Just try it for a while, maybe it'll work for you... if not, hopefully the bike you get can be converted into a coasting single-speed.
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Old 08-08-06, 02:37 AM   #23
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Six years of running really screwed up my right knee. I feel a little pain when it rotates.
Cycling does not seem to aggrivate it. I tend to favor fixed cleats.
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Old 08-08-06, 08:08 AM   #24
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My knees hurt more on the days I don't ride than on the days I do ride.
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Old 08-08-06, 09:59 AM   #25
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm hoping that riding will help as it seems to do for most of you. Now I just have to become un-broke so I can get my IRO! Sigh.
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