knee pain on indoor trainer

Doug williams

New Member
Nov 19, 2002
I ride a road bike and am gradually increasing my weekly miles. The recent bad weather has forced me back onto my turbo. I can cope with the boredom but I can't cope with the knee pain! Why should I experience knee pain on my turbo when I can ride for several hours on the road without any discomfort?
Hi Doug<br />Are you sure that the resistance on the trainer isn't set too high? Remember that you lose the effect of momentum on the trainer, and that you have to pedal &quot;harder&quot; to keep the pace up. Have you tried lower or no resistance, and do you give yourself enough warm up time on the trainer?
Thanks for your replies. I think the pain was due to too much resistance and spending too long on my turbo. <br /><br />
Hi Doug,<br /><br />my name is Tomas and i am a road cyclist from Gävle in the north of Sweden.<br />We have a lot of snow here during the winter so i do a lot of houers on my trainer.<br />I have been training hard for seven years now and i had big problems in the begining<br />with just training on a trainer. <br />My pain was located in the front of the knee, under the knee cap. What i did to prevent this pain was this:<br />1. Check your sadle height. I was sitting way to low.<br />2. Warm up for at least 15 minutes.<br />3. If you feel with your fingers om your knees you will feel that it is cold, even when you are indoors<br />with the heat turned up. I use a &quot;loose knee warmer&quot; on my left knee (problem knee) to keep it warm during the whole workout. <br />4. Use a good liniment to minimize the risk for problems during the workout.<br />5. Do a little bit higher cadens and lower resistance during the workout.<br />6. Remember that sitting on a trainer is wery concentrated training, try to stand durin the workout to make it a little less concentraded. You stand a lot when you are out in the free don´t you :)<br />7. Use shoes with a hard sole and see to that you have a bit of float in your pedals.<br />8. Stretch after you have finished your workout, this will prevent from pain in the future.<br />9. Try to do some spinning on your local gym so you will do some various training. I don´t know if you have any snow but if you do you should try some xc skiing, extremly good training.<br /><br />This was a lot of badspelling and bad english, but a hope i mayby helped you in some ways.<br />Train hard Doug but listen to your boody, rest if the pain is hard and see a specialist if it keeps on spoliating your training.<br /><br />Rock on<br /><br />Tomas<br />
Thank you Tomas. Very helpful reply. Since I posted my question I have been following a coaching plan involving several turbo sessions per week. The time spent on the trainer is 50% of the time spent on the road which helps. I have also raised my saddle. The problem seems to have gone which is a great relief! <br /><br />By the way, your English is very good -far better than my Swedish (which is non existant).
Because the weather in belgium isn't always that good :( i ride a lot on my indoor trainer. I never ride at high resistance, but when i ride a bit longer (more than 1h) I get pain in my knees. If i ride on the road, I never have that sort of pains. <br /><br /><br />Jelle
Hello Everyone,

I just found this forum and I have already learned a lot. I also had been riding my bike on a trainer and started to have knee pain. I didn't connect it to the riding on the trainer. This is the first spring that I attempted to use a trainer. I visited my doctor and even went to a speciallist and have been worred I was going to need to have my knee scoped. I have been off the bike for a month (and it sucks). Only in the last several days does it feel like it is getting better. I think I may stay off the trainer and get out on the streets.

I just wanted to post a note thanking everyone for the input on knee problems and things to check (seat position, etc.).

I look forward to a lot of reading in this forum area!

I've got a slightly different problem from the ones above, but it still relates to my knee. I've been doing a bit of indoor training, like most people here, and I just recently got out onto the real roads. When I made the transition, my left knee began to feel funny. It doesn't hurt, it just feels a bit odd while I ride.

The truth is, I have been messing with my seat height a little in the past two weeks, and I was thinking that it might be too high, although I don't fully extend my legs as I ride. If my saddle was truly too high, then I would think that my right leg would feel the same, unless they were different lengths.

As for grinding big gears, I usually try to keep my cadence around 100 (+/- 10).

Any ideas as to what might be the problem?

Like most people I have experimented with seat height. I thought that greater leg extension meant greater power/efficiency, but all it meant was pain! There are several methods for determining seat height. One is to measure your inseam and set your seat height at 109% of inseam. Another is to place your heel on the pedal at bottom, level with the down tube and set your seat height with an almost straight leg. I understand that at the bottom of your pedal stroke you should have a 30 to 40% bend in your knee. I know this sounds way too bent, but have a look at the pro's in road races. Their knees are far more bent than you would expect. Hope this helps Karlo. (By the way I am no expert and if you search the forum for other queries on seat height you will find some great information).
Thanks for the help guys.

I rode again today, once again on the indoor trainer because it is raining hard outside (I'm kind of a wimp). Before I did, I lowered the seat just a bit (less than 1cm), and my knee felt a little better. Most of the reason that my seat is so high is that a guy told me that it was too low after a race last year, and I could get more power if it was higher. So, I raised it, not desiring to repeat that second-to-last finish. Now it could be too high. I'll probably lower it a little more next ride, until it seems right.

As a side note, my ankle began hurting during today's ride. I think I need to learn to ride with the pain.

Does your posture in the Turbo match that posture on your roadbike?

Beware, Karlo, is your ankle pain arising from the joint or the muscle? If the former, THEN PLEASE INVESTIGATE. Joint pain signals abnormal biomechanics and therefore the possibility of accelerated joint wear, also called degenerative joint disease. On the other hand, muscle pain indicates vigorous metabolism - something desired.
Well, the ankle pain is in the joint. After many years of sports, I know that can be pretty bad. I've ridden/played through a lot of other pains and injuries, and they went away quickly in most cases. As for my ankle, it could even be a soccer injury that manifests itself while I ride. If it persists, I'm sure I'll find the root of the problem.

OTC substances that seem to aid in joint repair are shark cartilage, chondrointin, and glucosamine sulfate. I would give those supplements a chance - at least 6 months worth.
Originally posted by Doug williams
I ride a road bike and am gradually increasing my weekly miles. The recent bad weather has forced me back onto my turbo. I can cope with the boredom but I can't cope with the knee pain! Why should I experience knee pain on my turbo when I can ride for several hours on the road without any discomfort?

My physical theripist explained to me that riding for more than an hour, on your trainer, is bad. He says its unnatural for you knees to be stuck in the same position for longer than 1 hour. On a normal ride you might be standing more, than say, you do when you ride the nowhere bike. I have had surgery on my left knee, and have crashed extremely hard on my right, so I'm always on the lookout for pain. I never ride more than 1 hour on my trainer (including warmup and cooldown), and it seems to work really well. Although my pain will probably never go away, it has definitley been a step in the right direction.:D
Knee pain is something that will bother all riders eventually, especially if you start pushing harder/faster than you are normally accustom to. Of course, if you want to increase your speed/fitness, you have to push harder. Knee pain comes with the territory. At best it is a minor problem that goes away on it's own.

Correct saddle height is very important. There is a fine line between being too low and aerodynamic versus being higher, more powerful, but less aerodynamic. It takes some time and experimentation to find the right height.

Generally, you are much more likely to have knee problems/pain when your saddle is too low. Too high might cause some achilles/ankle pain, but that is not as serious as working against lots of resistance with a saddle that is too low.

I always say pamper your knees at all times. Knee warmers when it's cold, warm up/cool down, avoiding activities like running, basketball, soccer, etc., and doing isolated leg training (ILT).

The knees are the most important part of a riders body. Nothing will happen on the bike if your knees hurt. Take care of your knees at all time!!!

Good luck!!!