burning thighs

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by lisalwalter65, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. lisalwalter65

    lisalwalter65 New Member

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    I have been road cycling for awhile, but my husband just jumped on board last spring. We didn't ride a ton last spring, summer and fall, but are riding now about 5 days a week. During the week we ride about 15 miles a day and long rides on the weekend. My husband is really struggling with burning thighs the entire time we ride. He has muscular thighs and is up and down ladders all day. His cardiovascular is not the best yet, but I am hoping that improves with time. I just don't know what to tell him about his discomfort. He is getting very frustrated with his thighs and I'm afraid he will end up quiting. He hates exercise in general and isn't in the best shape, so I would hate for him to give this up!
    Any suggestions would be so appreciated!!!
     
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  2. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    I believe the common response to these issues is to check his bike fit and spin in a lower gear. Spinning at 80+ rpm is second nature to an experienced cyclist, but can feel unnatural for a newcomer. Mashing a low gear is a good way to bring the pain to the legs.
     
  3. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    If your husband is just not into cycling it is going to be a challenge because it takes time to build fitness. As a matter of fact the burning thighs issue never goes away if one is pushing those higher intensity levels. However, as fitness improves it all becomes more enjoyable at a recreational level.

    I come from a powerlifting/bodybuilding background. My legs were trained for over 30 years to have explosive strength at very low repititions. My legs would literally just about be at threshold walking to the water fountain in the gym. For all those years I kept cardio as low as possible in order to win in lifting so the first year in cycling was extremely discomforting to me. The first few miles of those short rides was almost unbearable in the burning sensation so I know what he may be experiencing.

    Despite the extreme discomfort, I really wanted to cycle. Not only that but I was told by my doctor that with the blood pressure that I had it would be a matter of months or a couple more years that I would have a stroke. Those two things kept me motivated to continue. But like any type of training it takes personal desire. I used to train people and it would be so tiring trying to keep the unmotivated motivated, but there are little things I could drop as seeds of thought. For me the only seed of thought was the doctor saying, "you are destined for a stroke" and seeing my mother go through one was enough for the seed to take root. I knew at that point I needed some cardio work and cycling seemed to be the avenue since I was too heavy with muscle to run.


    Do I still experience discomfort? Yes, when I am pushing the higher training intensities, but if I go out and do a casual 100 mile ride I feel no burning at all.

    I am not sure if there is anything from my post that may help you sell the idea of cycling. Hopefully you can find a way to keep him motivated. Pick routes that are easier like a flat route during this initial stage of building the base of fitness may be less discouraging.
     
  4. lisalwalter65

    lisalwalter65 New Member

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply! You brought up 2 points that I have been thinking could be the problem. Do you think his seat might be too high or too low? I realize taking him in and getting him refitted would be best, but his time is so limited and the one shop in our town has limited hours. I can sit on my seat and have my tip toes balance me, but he cannot.
     
  5. lisalwalter65

    lisalwalter65 New Member

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    I so appreciate the time you spent writing! I think you are right that he is pushing too hard. He really wants to keep up with me. I need to insist he take the lead until his fitness level improves. I worry about his health as his mother has heart problems and is overweight, etc.... I think when we have a good ride he does enjoy it, but those days he pushes, he is miserable. He does expect to build his fitness quicker than it is happening, but for most of his 40 yrs., he has not been consistent at exercise and for the last 12 years has been overweight. We just got married in April and I don't want to lose him already!!! If we don't exercise together he just wont do it,
     
  6. Scott2468

    Scott2468 Member

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    Try and get him to spin. Maybe get him a cadence sensor to target to. If he is really unfit, don't push the pace just get hours and hours of enjoyable riding in. If you are frustrated by the pace there are solutions. If you are riding bike paths, ride off the path on the grass. Setup another bike. Most importantly, kick back and enjoy the ride!
     
  7. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Cadence and technique are important. Sometimes a badly fit or badly set up bike will contribute to burning thighs. If your husband finds that he's putting a lot of pressure on his hands and arms supporting his upper body, advise him to level the saddle and set it back a bit, til he feels as though his arms are just there for steering. This will encourage his legs to bring other muscles into play, mainly the hamstrings and calves.
     
  8. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Leisure cycling should not involve burning pain in any part of the body. Unless you're racing or taking part in ultra distance cycling events, pain should not be an issue when cycling.

    To that end it sounds like the bike setup and the riders position might be the cause of thigh pain.
    A visit to your local bike store might be worth investing in. Bring the bike that is being used and ask them to measure your husband to the frame he's using.

    Other than that, cadence is something that needs to be learned/worked at. Select a gear that is not too heavy/light and just pedal away as smoothly as possible without increasing lactic in the legs.
    Work on this until you become proficient and then move on to a progressively heavy gear and do the same.
    Muscles need to "learn" to be worked and to be worked at different resistance levels. That way they become stronger and can adapt more to heavier workloads.

    remember cycling isn't a sprint, it's a marathon
     
  9. DAL1955

    DAL1955 New Member

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    Lisa; Almost a sure bet his saddle and his cadence are too low. To judge the seat height yourself, look at his legs when he pedals. They should be almost fully extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Definitely not to the point of locked knees, but there should only be a slight bend in the knee. The problem with a higher cadence will be that his cardio fitness isn't there just yet to handle a 80+rpm cadence which will be easier on his legs. I would bet his cadence is in the 50's or 60's which is why he has to push so hard that his legs burn. You have to spin up to allow the lactic acid to work its way out of the muscles. Spinning more rapidly than he is used to will have him breathing hard quickly. Just drop the speed a bit, and alternate between some higher cadence spinning and some lower rpm recovery while you ride. It sounds like he is trying to do too much too soon speed wise and just needs to back off a bit and let his fitness develop some more. I would get him a cadence sensor and let him gradually work on increasing his average cadence, a little at a time. Don't worry about speed at this point just keep him riding and let his fitness develop as it will if he keeps riding.

    The other problem you have is that he is a guy, and we like to go fast, and we certainly aren't going to let some girl go faster even if we collapse afterwards.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress
     
  10. thedeadone

    thedeadone New Member

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    I to say check the seat position.
     
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