knees and recumbents

Discussion in 'Recumbent bicycles' started by Skott, May 7, 2003.

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  1. Skott

    Skott Guest

    I have been an aggressive mountain biker for some years without knee problems despite the absence of
    my medial meniscus and posterior cruciate ligament. I have decided to become a roadie but am pretty
    convinced to do it with a recumbent. Probably a Volae Club when available. Are there knee problems
    unique to recumbents that may cause me problems??
     
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  2. Cletus Lee

    Cletus Lee Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > I have been an aggressive mountain biker for some years without knee problems despite the absence
    > of my medial meniscus and posterior cruciate ligament. I have decided to become a roadie but am
    > pretty convinced to do it with a recumbent. Probably a Volae Club when available. Are there knee
    > problems unique to recumbents that may cause me problems??
    >
    Not if you learn good spinning techniques and don't over torque the knees with the added power boost
    that comes from being able to push against the back of the seat.
    --

    Cletus D. Lee Bacchetta Giro Lightning Voyager http://www.clee.org
    - Bellaire, TX USA -
     
  3. Don

    Don Guest

    Skott, pay very close attention to proper crank length. The rules can change depending on what style
    of bike you are riding. I ride a road bike with 170mm cranks with no problem but the same size is
    waaaayyyy to big on a recumbent with a neutral or high (relative to the seat) bottom bracket.

    [email protected] (skott) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > I have been an aggressive mountain biker for some years without knee problems despite the absence
    > of my medial meniscus and posterior cruciate ligament. I have decided to become a roadie but am
    > pretty convinced to do it with a recumbent. Probably a Volae Club when available. Are there knee
    > problems unique to recumbents that may cause me problems??
     
  4. Gene Cosloy

    Gene Cosloy Guest

    Cletus Lee <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > > I have been an aggressive mountain biker for some years without knee problems despite the
    > > absence of my medial meniscus and posterior cruciate ligament. I have decided to become a roadie
    > > but am pretty convinced to do it with a recumbent. Probably a Volae Club when available. Are
    > > there knee problems unique to recumbents that may cause me problems??
    > >
    > Not if you learn good spinning techniques and don't over torque the knees with the added power
    > boost that comes from being able to push against the back of the seat.

    Yes I can confirm this as good advise. I have ridden road and MTB bikes for over 30 years and while
    I was always aware that I was extremely sensitive to seat height adjustment to insure freedom from
    knee pain I never really had a problem until after riding recumbents. The problem is that I tend to
    hammer away because I've gotten stonger and can be more aggressive, particularly on hills. Riding a
    DF the hips come more into play on hills, particularly if you rise out of the saddle. I was always
    an aggressive climber on DF's and now atempting to compensate for the recumbents inferiority on
    hills I am experiencing knee pain. Got to remember to lower the gears and spin. You can power
    against the seat back but when your glutes are no longer touching the seat bottom, you're probably
    pushing too hard!!

    Gene
     
  5. Tbradster

    Tbradster Guest

    Yes. Recumbent riding can be associated with knee pain because of the ability to push against the
    seat back. You need to spin...but mainly you need to dial back your speed expectations for the a
    year or 3. You will climb more slowly at first and maybe for a couple of years, but in the long run
    will be able to spin up hills maintaining a good cadence and reasonable speed. Recumbents are not a
    panacea but a trade-off. Still, I like the trade-off and do most of my riding on a recumbent.

    Remember that you may have been riding an upright bike for decades. The ergonomics of recumbents are
    different and you need some time to adjust. My own experience was that it took three seasons to get
    strong on a recumbent. I am sure others will quote a lower adjustment time. OK, but they're probably
    younger too.

    Enjoy the ride. The grin never fades!

    Brad
     
  6. Seth Jayson

    Seth Jayson Guest

    Ditto on the spin advice. My knees are pretty tough, as I run 20-30 miles a week. But earlier
    this season on the 'bent, I tweaked one the first day out 'cause I was mashing when I should have
    been spinning.

    The good news is that spinning works REALLY well on all but the worst hills (I left a few of my
    friends puffing away and mashing pedals on their DFs during some hill riding in Iowa last weekend,
    and my Rocket goes about 35 pounds these days...)

    But then, if you're a mountain biker, you already know about spinning up long hills.
     
  7. I experienced tendonitis in the anterior tibialis from 'bent riding. That's the large muscle in
    front of your shin. The symptom is a sharp pain and tenderness on the outside of the affected knee.
    The reason is that when I spin up hills, I pull as well as push (I don't know what these guys are
    talking about with pushing against the seat back. That doesn't work for me) and the pulling
    overstressed the anterior tibialis. I also get a dull ache behind my right kneecap that is worse on
    the 'bent than the DF. I've got the tendonitis under control through stretching. Nevertheless, I'm
    more injury prone on my 'bent. I did find that the push-pull spinning that I learned on my bent was
    great for road or MTB riding. I found no such cross training effect transferring strength from the
    upright rides to the 'bent.

    Steve

    "skott" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > I have been an aggressive mountain biker for some years without knee problems despite the absence
    > of my medial meniscus and posterior cruciate ligament. I have decided to become a roadie but am
    > pretty convinced to do it with a recumbent. Probably a Volae Club when available. Are there knee
    > problems unique to recumbents that may cause me problems??
     
  8. Bike

    Bike Guest

    I have read "crank length" and knees in the same sentence may times. I have heard other suggestions
    too which have me at least thinking about how to eliminate sore knees.

    What is meant by "pay very close attention to proper crank length."?

    If someone still has sore knees and is spinning and not pushing against the seat back, they still
    have to "change" something. (Even "spinning" is not "really" defined, is it 90RPM?, 100?, should it
    be the same, when going, up-hill, down-hill, straight, into-wind???)

    Things I have heard which may help to minimize sore knees:
    o) Seat position, including angle (free) [adding a "wedge" under the seat now prevents me from
    sliding forward :) ]
    p) different clip-less pedals, maybe frogs ($130), maybe even with 1/4" to
    1/2" extended length shafts (special order, needed with size 14+ shoes and others)
    o) maybe extending your current pedals out another 3/4" using shaft extenders ($35)
    p) maybe change the "crank length" ($$) but to what? (shorter?, longer?), If that does not work, try
    again with a shorter/longer length? (+$$)
    q) loose weight and exercise more (free??)
    r) try a different bike? ($$$$)

    It would seem to me that an "ergonomic" based range, similar to X-seam should be available to
    determine what a range should be for pedal shafts and crank length.

    Seems like a lot of this is try and if it does not work, sell it if you can and buy something else.

    Neil

    "Don" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Skott, pay very close attention to proper crank length. The rules can change depending on what
    > style of bike you are riding. I ride a road bike with 170mm cranks with no problem but the same
    > size is waaaayyyy to big on a recumbent with a neutral or high (relative to the seat) bottom
    > bracket.
    >
    > [email protected] (skott) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > > I have been an aggressive mountain biker for some years without knee problems despite the
    > > absence of my medial meniscus and posterior cruciate ligament. I have decided to become a roadie
    > > but am pretty convinced to do it with a recumbent. Probably a Volae Club when available. Are
    > > there knee problems unique to recumbents that may cause me problems??
     
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Has anyone ridden from across the US using Adventure Cycling's Southern Tier Route and Maps? I am
    planning to take the ride this winter and am looking for any information I can find. The maps have
    been ordered and we're working out details now.

    I'm planning to ride my Sat-R Day or Ryan Vanguard. In either case I'll use a trailer.

    I've done a few trips, Newfoundland and Labrador, Corsica and Sardinia, Croatia and Bosnia, Gaspe
    Peninsular, Boston to Montreal, Boston to Bar Harbor, and lots of multiday self-contained rides in
    Maine, New Hampshire, and Quebec. The longest of these has been 3 weeks. I'm not sure what happens
    on rides that take 3 months.

    Thanks ... Roland
     
  10. Alpha Beta

    Alpha Beta Guest

    I think that the main problem is crank length, provided you are not mashing. Even if you spin you
    will run into the same problem if the crank is too long. You have to have to get the longest
    possible crank for power, but short enought so that it won't cause repetitive strain injury.

    The knee problem related to long cranks is to do the repetitve strain of over bending the knees. On
    a DF/upright, it is my belief that you have less of a problem because you can slide your hips
    opposite the rising knee side so that your rising knee does not get over bent (and equally, your
    knee/leg on the down side does not get over stretched). You have wiggle room.

    On a recumbent you don't have wiggle room, so the crank length had better be precise. Too short you
    won't get pain, but you won't get optimum power. Too long and you will get knee problems.

    The other problem associated with knee problem is the achilles heel tendonitis. To reduce knee pain
    you might try to set your recumbent seat back a little. But if it is too far back you get repetitive
    strain injury in the achilles heel.

    Crank length must be correct!!!

    I don't think tall people run into the problem when they purchase recumbents-- the crank may be too
    short. But for shorter people, under 5'9" the cranks are generally too long on the factory built
    bike. Getting short cranks can sometimes be an expensive proposition. A supply of short crank length
    is something which mass manufacturers don't care about because it is a problem which DFers don't
    face, only recumbent riders, shorter ones, who constitute a very small percentage of the population.

    It is my belief that recumbent manufactures should not sell their bikes with cranks. There is a very
    good chance that you have to change it.

    "Bike" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > I have read "crank length" and knees in the same sentence may times. I have heard other
    > suggestions too which have me at least thinking about
    how
    > to eliminate sore knees.
    >
    > What is meant by "pay very close attention to proper crank length."?
    >
    > If someone still has sore knees and is spinning and not pushing against
    the
    > seat back, they still have to "change" something. (Even "spinning" is not "really" defined, is it
    > 90RPM?, 100?, should it be the same, when going, up-hill, down-hill, straight, into-wind???)
    >
    > Things I have heard which may help to minimize sore knees:
    > o) Seat position, including angle (free) [adding a "wedge" under the seat now prevents me from
    > sliding forward :) ]
    > o) different clip-less pedals, maybe frogs ($130), maybe even with 1/4" to
    > 1/2" extended length shafts (special order, needed with size 14+ shoes and others)
    > o) maybe extending your current pedals out another 3/4" using shaft extenders ($35)
    > o) maybe change the "crank length" ($$) but to what? (shorter?, longer?), If that does not work,
    > try again with a shorter/longer length? (+$$)
    > o) loose weight and exercise more (free??)
    > o) try a different bike? ($$$$)
    >
    > It would seem to me that an "ergonomic" based range, similar to X-seam should be available to
    > determine what a range should be for pedal shafts
    and
    > crank length.
    >
    > Seems like a lot of this is try and if it does not work, sell it if you
    can
    > and buy something else.
    >
    > Neil
    >
    > "Don" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > Skott, pay very close attention to proper crank length. The rules can change depending on what
    > > style of bike you are riding. I ride a road bike with 170mm cranks with no problem but the same
    > > size is waaaayyyy to big on a recumbent with a neutral or high (relative to the seat) bottom
    > > bracket.
    > >
    > > [email protected] (skott) wrote in message
    > news:<[email protected]>...
    > > > I have been an aggressive mountain biker for some years without knee problems despite the
    > > > absence of my medial meniscus and posterior cruciate ligament. I have decided to become a
    > > > roadie but am pretty convinced to do it with a recumbent. Probably a Volae Club when
    > > > available. Are there knee problems unique to recumbents that may cause me problems??
     
  11. Morgan Jones

    Morgan Jones Guest

    "Steve Peplinski" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > I experienced tendonitis in the anterior tibialis from 'bent riding. That's the large muscle in
    > front of your shin. The symptom is a sharp pain and tenderness on the outside of the affected
    > knee. The reason is that when I spin up hills, I pull as well as push (I don't know what these
    > guys are talking about with pushing against the seat back. That doesn't work for me) and the
    > pulling overstressed the anterior tibialis. I also get a dull ache behind my right kneecap that is
    > worse on the 'bent than the DF. I've got the tendonitis under control through stretching.
    > Nevertheless, I'm more injury prone on my 'bent. I did find that the push-pull spinning that I
    > learned on my bent was great for road or MTB riding. I found no such cross training effect
    > transferring strength from the upright rides to the 'bent.

    I too concentrate on pulling the pedals rather than pushing, and though it took me a while to get
    the hang of it on a recumbent, it does work just as well. I even had the pain in the front of the
    shin at first. Now that I have a year and a few thousand kilometers on my V-Rex, I can pull on the
    pedals while raising out of the seat (a.k.a. pushing into the back of the seat - obviously I'm
    pushing the pedals as well as pulling).

    In spite of conventional wisdom, I'm now starting to suspect that climbing hills on a recumbent is
    easier than on a DF. Sure, it might take longer, but it seems that because you use your leg muscles
    more fully, but the end of the day you still feel good after rides that before would leave your
    quads screaming. Now I'm even climbing hills that before would make me get off and walk. Has anyone
    else experienced this?

    Morgan.
     
  12. Geob

    Geob Guest

    I also experienced tendonitis in the anterior tibialis. But I didn't know the name till you said it.
    I experienced it mostly while commuting on my mtn bike. I bought the bike years ago and knew nothing
    about correct sizes of bikes. This one was too big.

    I now ride a bent, an R40. I have learned a lot about fitment and have taken a lot more time in
    getting things right (seat position, angle, crank length, etc). I have gradually eliminated the
    various aches I previously thought one had to live with to cycle.
     
  13. Bentjay

    Bentjay Guest

    For me, my knees, even more than my aerobic capacity, are the limitation on how much power gets to
    the pedals. Just yesterday, my kid, a 17 year old on a two-three ounce(?) Klein df, sprained his
    calf muscle attempting to start from a red light in too high a gear. The "Cannibal," as he's known
    just learned the hard way that the macho mind may be willing, but the flesh ain't! I've found my mhr
    is achieved way after I start getting "twinges" in the ol' knees. Can someone explain how a shorter
    crank might be an advantage. Seems to me a shorter "lever" will require more torque to move. No?

    BentJay
     
  14. Cletus Lee

    Cletus Lee Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > For me, my knees, even more than my aerobic capacity, are the limitation on how much power gets to
    > the pedals... I've found my mhr is achieved way after I start getting "twinges" in the ol' knees.

    Two things: 1. F=ma You can increase the mass (muscle=torque) or the accelleration (spin) to get
    more power to the pedal. that is why spinning is easier on the knees.
    2. Glucosamine Sulphate - has been demonstreated to be effective in rebuilding connective tissue
    This is recommended by Drs. for Arthritis and other joint problems such as old farts on funny
    bikes pushing too big a gear.

    --

    Cletus D. Lee Bacchetta Giro Lightning Voyager http://www.clee.org
    - Bellaire, TX USA -
     
  15. FWIW: A daily combination of Celebrex (20o mg) and Glucosamine for the last few years almost totally
    eliminated my 74 year old bod's onetime aches and pains. Of course, I also do the bike, weight
    machine and swim in addition to the pills.

    --
    Gator Bob Siegel EasyRacers Ti Rush "Cletus Lee" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > In article <[email protected]>,
    [email protected] says...
    > > For me, my knees, even more than my aerobic capacity, are the limitation on how much power gets
    > > to the pedals... I've found my mhr is achieved way after I start getting "twinges" in the ol'
    > > knees.
    >
    > Two things: 1. F=ma You can increase the mass (muscle=torque) or the
    accelleration (spin) to
    > get more power to the pedal. that is why spinning is easier on the knees.
    > 2. Glucosamine Sulphate - has been demonstreated to be effective in
    rebuilding connective
    > tissue This is recommended by Drs. for Arthritis and other joint problems
    such as old farts on
    > funny bikes pushing too big a gear.
    >
    > --
    >
    > Cletus D. Lee Bacchetta Giro Lightning Voyager http://www.clee.org
    > - Bellaire, TX USA -
     
  16. Geob

    Geob Guest

    > Can someone explain how a shorter crank might be an advantage.

    Shucks, I'll give it a try,with the caveat that this is all hypothetical to me. Yeah, I use shorter
    cranks, yeah, both subjective and objective evidence suggests that it is the correct direction for
    me.. but my reasoning to support this may be askew.

    The way I see it, if I had a lot of stairs to climb but could specify the height of the stairs, I'd
    take stairs that weren't so high that my knee had to bend at an acute angle. Even 90 degrees is
    actually to high a step for comfort. My knee is just a hair past 90 degrees (straight leg being 0
    degrees) at the top of the stroke. This is with the 155mm cranks. My comfort is up, my speed is up,
    my endurance is up, my knee pain is down.

    > For me, my knees, even more than my aerobic capacity, are the limitation on how much power gets to
    > the pedals

    This is true for me. Has been for years. Munched my knees in a car accident in 1964. Can't twist
    them without paying for it, but they work alright in a straight line. I even worked as a USFS
    Hotshot crew member and squad leader with these bum knees. But I did it carefully.

    > Seems to me a shorter "lever" will require more torque to move. No?

    Well, yes... but we have gears to give us the torque we need. Just drop a gear.

    During a substantial part of the stroke, with long cranks, (I hypothesize) we really aren't
    producing as much power as we can with the leg a lil straighter. But we still pay the 'energy
    overhead' to pull the leg up that far, and to start the downward stroke.

    Another way I think about this is.. Suppose you were on a 'bent suspended from the floor, and are
    pedaling as fast as you can. the wheel spins freely. After a while you get tired. All things being
    equal, I am presuming that with a longer stroke you would get tired a lil sooner. How much sooner?
    No idea. Its just the trend I am interested in. My current thinking is that this energy difference
    is conserved, when moving to shorter cranks, as well as any actual efficiencies gained by exerting
    effort throughout a (possibly) more efficient range of leg movement.

    This change alone shaved several MINUTES off of my daily commute.
     
  17. Don

    Don Guest

    neil, Sorry for the slow response. I have been on vacation in rainy OH since the 10th.

    What I meant by proper crank length fit on a bent is that it is similar to the rules for DFs in that
    the knee should not be bent too extreme in the closest position. When riding a DF the inside angle
    of the knee should never be at less than 90 degrees. There is no power in squeezing the knee tighter
    and will do long term damage. The ergo difference between a bent and DF is somewhat of a mystery
    that others have tried to address. The 170 crank on my Merlin works fine for me but the same length
    crank on my Haluzak forces my knees into an extreme closed position which causes pain after a
    ride--especially if there was some hill climbing.

    "Bike" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > I have read "crank length" and knees in the same sentence may times. I have heard other
    > suggestions too which have me at least thinking about how to eliminate sore knees.
    >
    > What is meant by "pay very close attention to proper crank length."?
     
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