Author Topic: Knee pain and what to do about it.  (Read 2480 times)

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Offline Sir_Geek

Knee pain and what to do about it.
« on: February 06, 2006, 03:14:46 pm »
Good day, my fellow cycling enthusiasts. I have what most of you will likely consider a rather stupid question. I've started biking 150 - 200 miles a week (in 30 - 40 mile trips) only recently and along with my increase in mileage, I've noticed a disturbing pain developing in my knees. I don't think I'm old enough to be developing arthritis (I'm twenty years of age), so I'm somewhat confused as to why I'm experiencing knee pain. I've changed nothing in my lifstyle except the increase in cycling, so I'm assuming that the two things are related.

 Since you fine people have probably experienced this too, what do you suggest I should do about it? Should I stop whining and take it like a man, or is it a serious problem I should look into more - perhaps even to the point of consulting a doctor?

Thank you all in advance for your advice. :)

Offline wanderingwheel

Knee pain and what to do about it.
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2006, 05:29:58 pm »
I'm no expert, but I would interpret this as your body saying something is not right with the bike set-up.  It is not uncommon for problems like this to occur only at higher mileages.  

Consider first your pedal stroke.  Assuming you are using some type of clipless pedal, do you ever feel like the movement of your foot is being unnaturally constrained by the pedal?  If so, try adjusting your cleats or the tension on your pedals.

Next, consider where and when the pain is occuring.  Generally speaking, pain in front of the knee means that you should raise your saddle and use a lower gears (higher cadence).  Pain behind your knee means the opposite.

Also, look at your saddle.  Are you constantly trying to ride off the back of the saddle or onto the nose?

Finally, remember that your bike set-up should never be static, especially when you are significantly changing your riding style and habits.  Your body will change, and you should change your bike fit along with it.

Sean


Offline Sir_Geek

Knee pain and what to do about it.
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2006, 11:36:40 pm »
Well, I'm experiencing the pain in the front of the knee and I do tend to slip down on the nose of the saddle, so I guess I'll try adjusting that. Also, you say that I should use a lower gear. What's a good number of revolutions, do you think? I've been using a relatively large gear, turning at 50 RPM or so.

Thanks for your help, wanderingwheel.

This message was edited by Sir_Geek on 2-6-06 @ 7:37 PM

Offline wanderingwheel

Knee pain and what to do about it.
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2006, 01:16:07 am »
Ouch.  My knees hurt just thinking about doing 50 rpm.  Personally, I prefer staying well north of 85 rpm, even up into the low 100's.  It's possible that a higher cadence will solve your knee problems entirely.

As for the bike itself, I'd consider lowering the saddle a little, but not moving it along the rails yet.  By moving forward on the saddle you were effectively lowering the seat height.  Dropping the saddle will also move the saddle slightly forward.  If you like the lower cadences, a lower than average saddle usually works better.

For me, assuming the bike fit is not terrible, raising my cadence would have a much greater effect than changing the bike.  Therefore, I'd hold off on making any drastic changes to the bike until I'm sure that my pedaling style is not the root of the problems.

Once again, I'm no expert, these are just my experiences.
Sean


Offline Fred Hiltz

Knee pain and what to do about it.
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2006, 07:45:34 am »
I'll second WW on the cadence. It will feel strange at first (50 is close to walking cadence) and will need some practice. For motivation, remember Lance spinning his way past the competition up those mountains.

I got a cyclometer with cadence to use as a nanny. Whenever it dropped below 80, she nagged "shift down." It is easy to backslide when you are tired.

Spinning is easier if your saddle is not too high. The knee should be slightly bent--just a little--at the bottom of the stroke. Your hips should not rock on the saddle.

One more thing. Think circles. When my riding partner seems to be stomping on the pedals, I say "think circles" and her speed increases noticeably.

Give it a month or two. Smooth circular pedalling at 90 rpm made a huge difference for me. It probably will for you.

Fred


Offline Sir_Geek

Knee pain and what to do about it.
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2006, 08:53:48 pm »
Wanderingwheel, I was looking over your first post and noticed something that had escaped my notice the first time:

Quote

  Assuming you are using some type of clipless pedal...try adjusting your cleats or the tension on your pedals.



  I actually don't use any sort of device to secure my foot to the pedal. I just ride with ordinary street sneakers. Could that be a contributing factor?

  On the subject of increasing my cadence, I tried a short 20 mile ride today (through some absolutely beautiful New Hampshire scenery, incidently), concentrating on keeping a fast RPM. Even on that one ride, I noticed a positive difference. I think you two have indeed hit upon the problem.

 It was rather difficult keeping up such a cadence - it took a suprising amount of concentration - but I think it'll get easier with time.

Thank both of you very much for your help.

This message was edited by Sir_Geek on 2-7-06 @ 4:58 PM

Offline wanderingwheel

Knee pain and what to do about it.
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2006, 11:18:38 pm »
I'm glad to hear that a higher cadence is helping.  Platform pedals such as yours are not likely to irritate your knees because they do not restrict the natural position and movement of your feet and ankles.  Properly set up, clipless pedals allow you to use a more effecient pedal stroke and give you more control over the bike.  

You may find that at higher cadences that your feet want to come off the pedals.  This is natural and shows that you are using a good pedal stroke.  I suggest trying toe clips before going whole hog with new pedals and shoes.  They should keep your feet in contact with the pedals and give you back the confidence and control you have now.

Sean