New bike = dodgy knees. Advice?

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by cricketk, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    Hi folks,

    I've had a few knee problems (MCL, ACL and ITB) in the past. I've just recently bought a Subzero road bike and the first time I took it out for a ride (25km), I aggravated those existing injuries and it's still dodgy a week later. Dodgy enough that I don't want to ride the bike again this weekend, which is a shame as the weather is going to be perfect.

    I know that the seat is at the right height and didstance from the handlebars. Are there other things I should know about bike fit that would help me solve this problem? I'm probably going to replace the pedals with clips sometime in the next month, in the belief that they will stop any sliding the foot may be doing on the peddle.

    I've been doing a short commute on a Sedona since the start of the year with very few issues, so I don't think the problem is a total lack of conditioning in the knee.

    Any advice folk have would be great.

    Thanks,
    Kirsten.
     
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  2. quickbuck

    quickbuck New Member

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    Yep,

    Just my ten cents worth,
    I would say it is your foot "floating" on the pedals, and also only being able to push down and pull up on the SUB.

    With cleats (providing you are able to get in and out without hurting your knee) you are able to pedal in circles and there is much less pressure.

    Also you can make subtle adjustments to the position of your foot for good knee alignment, and it will be held there (with a little float).
    Much better.

    It doesn't take too much effort to twist out of cleats either.

    Just one question:
    You are keeping your RPM up? About 90 to 100?
    Lower will put more pressure on your legs than what is efficient.
     
  3. matagi

    matagi Well-Known Member

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    A question .... how do you know the seat height and distance are correct? If this is the first time you have ridden the bike, then the initial setup may well need adjusting to better reflect "real life". Bike setup is not a fixed or static thing, the initial setup is just an approximation which you then "tweak" to reflect your level of fitness and flexibility and your riding style.

    As Quickbuck has suggested, your foot position on the pedal may be less than optimal, leading to undue stress on your knees. You might want to concentrate on your foot position when riding and see what differences you experience by varying the position.

    Also, if you are pushing too big a gear for the given conditions, you may be putting undue stress on your knee joints. I would suggest that initially, you aim for a gear that will allow you to maintain a cadence of 80-90 rpm easily.
     
  4. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    I took it out several times for short (3km) rides over a fortnight. And tweaked and tweaked and tweaked. Also, I was pretty comfortable finishing up this ride bar the knee - no hand, wrist, shoulder, neck or back pain, so I think it's OK.

    I will definitely give this a try on the weekend.

    I have tried to be pretty good about this, but I have no doubt that I pushed too hard on a couple of occasions - I hate walking up hills.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  5. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    I shall move cleats higher up the shopping priority list. I'm going to try a few experiments with foot position this weekend, as per Matagi's suggestion.

    I'm sure that I've not managed to keep the RPM up going up hills, but I have mostly been pretty good on rises and the flat. I was careful and expecting a little irritation, but not this level of pain. I shall be even more cautious about RPM next time I ride it.

    Thank you for your help.
     
  6. Lesq

    Lesq New Member

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    My own experience is 5mm in seat height difference is sore knees, so my seat actually "feels" a fraction too low. Good luck.
     
  7. quickbuck

    quickbuck New Member

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    Very true!

    In fact after being sized properly for my road bike (when purchased new), the first thing I did when I got home was lower my seat on the MTB!

    As a rule of thumb, while wearing the shoes you cycle in you sit on the seat (While bike is on wind trainer, or somebody holding it) and have the pedal at the bottom, and your HEAL should "brush" over the pedal.
    This will mean when the balls of your feet are on the pedal your knee is bent at the correct angle.
     
  8. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    I just double-checked. My seat is a just a tad too low. I'll move it up a bit and then have myself a nice Sunday afternoon cruise around the river, thinking verycarefully about foot position on the peddle. :)
     
  9. quickbuck

    quickbuck New Member

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    Sweet,
    How did it go?

    Didn't get out myself. Too busy doing other stuff...
    Cold here today too, so a bit slack....
     
  10. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    It went pretty well - did 20km on the flat around a patch of the river. Kept the RPM well up. The foot wiggled a bit anyway, particularly when changing gears. MCL went from niggling to pain at about the 15km mark, which is better than last week, where the inside and outside of the joint were both really painful from about 10km.

    Iced it when I got home, being quite cautious with it today. Yesterday evening couldn't push out of chairs with it, today it's just creaking and clicking and sore, but functional.

    I'm loving the feel of the bike, but I think I really need to get cleats before I try again.

    Cheers,
    K
     
  11. Timbo77

    Timbo77 New Member

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    For what its worth i have previously experienced knee soreness. The cause of my knee pain was discovered through trial and error. It was eventually limited to the fact the gear ratio i was spinning was too big.

    i was overcompensating with my right leg/knee and as a result of this it was becoming very sore.

    Look at getting a smaller gear ratio with your rear cassette and this will hopefully help with your soreness.

    Cheers
    Timbo
     
  12. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    Went for my first ride with cleats today (yes, in the wind and the rain).

    Had a ball!!

    Knee pain started at about 18km after taking a couple of bounces changing from bikepath to road and back again. No problems with cadence or gearing.

    Averaged 21km/hr with stops for discussion (and playing with one of the beloved's shifters after it started being cranky), high point at 43km/hr.

    :D:D:D:D:D

    Feel good enough to commute tomorrow as well.:)

     
  13. Lesq

    Lesq New Member

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    Congratulations, remember to play around with the seat height. Not too high to over straighten the knee at the bottom of the stroke and not too low that the knee gets too close to 90* angle at the top. Dont overdo it early you want to build the muscles not rip. Yeah the weather was enough to keep me indoors today. Wait til the east cop this lot, it'll build up a head of steam on its way across the Nullabor.
     
  14. j.r.hawkins

    j.r.hawkins New Member

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    Being a knee surgery alumni, perhaps my experience may be useful.



    When I started cycling almost a year ago I elected to go with SPD cleats straight up, and chose a MTB for its shorter gearing because of the hilly nature of my intended commute (via Spit Bridge in Sydney), and my fragile right knee. Even after a couple of goofy falls with the cleats, I'd never go back to flats - not even for off-road.



    I deliberately stay seated and spin in a higher cadence (between 95 and 105) when climbing, to ease the pressure on my knees. I set my seat using the leg-straight-with-heel-on-pedal trick, except for steep trail descents. If you don’t have a computer with cadence, PM me and I can email you a spreadsheet that will calculate your cadence for any gear based on speed, wheel diameter, and chainring / cluster tooth count.



    Even with short gearing, high seat and high cadence, I'd still frequently get sore knees in those early months, especially if I rode too many days in a row. A day or two off the bike was enough to recover – so long as I eased off immediately and did not try to push through it.



    The secret is to listen to your body. I know it can be frustrating having to wait for it to recover, but is a process that will not be rushed or hurried up, more so where joints are concerned. It takes as long as it takes, and you need to think long term. It’s important to maintain consistency with your rehab exercises too – not just when the knee gets sore again. Make haste slowly! J



    After almost a year my knees are now stronger than they’ve been for more than a decade, thanks to cycling - and a little patience.
     
  15. quickbuck

    quickbuck New Member

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    Good post there.

    Thanks for that. Will help me when the question gets asked to me in the future.

    I can't agree more about listening to your body.
     
  16. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    Thanks j.r., great advice.

    I am being as careful, and as thoughtful about my body and the bike and the routes I ride as I can be. My beloved (and my fun run training group) are helping me overcome the urge to go faster than everyone around me at all times.
     
  17. xxamr_corpxx

    xxamr_corpxx New Member

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    While on the topic of sore knees, does anyone have any nutritional advice?
     
  18. cricketk

    cricketk New Member

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    I"ve been told that:
    Eating onions and garlic is good for repairing connective tissue.
    Glucosamine supplements are good for helping repair cartilage.

    But this is entirely hearsay. My beloved swears by Glucosamine, but I have done no further research, or looked up any articles.
     
  19. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

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    Glucosamine therapy is backed up by high-quality research.
     
  20. j.r.hawkins

    j.r.hawkins New Member

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    My wife works at Blackmores so I have access to this at good prices. It works.

    My preference, though, is for the version that has Chondroitin (a shark cartilege extract) in the mix. It is my belief that Chondroitin helps the body repair cartilege damage more quickly. Glucocamine only deals with inflamation, AFAIK.
     
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