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Knee pain

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No idea where to post this so muppets it is

Went for a 17 mile ride tonight . Walked a little bit but mostly cycling . Within an hour of coming home my knees seemed to cease up and go stiff , really badly . Iíve never experienced any pain like that after riding , or any pain at all really .

 I havenít ridden for quite sometime and especially longer distance . I did hit a few hills and working hard .  On previous bike I can feel of a gear is too high for me as I can feel the pressure build up on my knees and drop gears till it feels better.

I am a bit heavier , maybe a couple stone , Iím not sure .

May I just did too much and am rusty

The gear I was in was very low and even that was a struggle much of the time

I went to the stairs and did so stretches , putting my knees forward over my toes, then doing calf or hamstring stretches then tried to do quads . This seemed to help a lot and released all or most of the tension and pain , although I have a feeling it will be back in the morning

I have a slight forward  leaning posture too.

Anyone experienced anything similar?  I donít get much knee pain or trouble but in the last year or so since my weight has risen I have felt occasional stiffness /pain.

For the last couple years Iíve spent a lot of time having to walk with and carry my toddler (a prolonged period where she had bad excema and wanted picked up all the time ) and she is growing and getting heavier all the time . My legs /knees can feel it after these times . It builds up over time. So that doesnít help .

A variety of things for knee pain, some of which may or may not work for you:

- if you are overweight, lose weight. Easier said than done, but to me it seems logical that moving 100 kg of body (on a bicycle or walking) is going to put more strain on joints than moving 80 kg. Covid lockdowns were very restrictive here in France, during the first one we were limited to just 1 hour of exercise and a maximum perimeter of 1 km (basically that meant no cycing at all). So a lot of people, including myself, spend more time eating and much less time than usual doing exercise. My weight went up to 89 Kg, I am now back down to 80 Kg, which feels much better for both walking and cycling.

- make sure you drink enough liquid, especially in hot weather (but not alcohol!).

- eat healthily. In general, a varied diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals to keep the knee joints in good condition. As a precaution I added two supplements when I did an ambitious tour at 55 years of age - one cod liver oil capsule a day for vitamins and fatty acids plus extra salt to avoid cramps. I am pretty sure the salt worked for me, not so much for the cod liver oil, but I don't think it did any harm.

- keep your knees warm. I had a serious bout of knee pain about 40 years ago after riding in cold, wet jeans.

- don't force hard on hills, drop to a low gear and slow down, get off and push if you don't have a low enough gear to feel comfortable.

- use low gears and "spin" at high revs rather than "mash" at low revs. This works for me, but may not suit others.

- use short cranks. This is controversial, but works very well for me. With 150 mm cranks I can spin at higher revs, and go just as fast as I did before when I used 170 mm cranks. The force applied to the pedals is less for the same power output, this is also true for the knee joints.

- build up your cycling very gradually. If 17 miles is too much, start by doing very short distances, say 5 miles on the flat, but do it several times a week until you can increase the distance without discomfort.  I find it much easier to motivate myself if my cycling has a purpose - shopping, visit to the library, picnic etc.
And alternate with walking or some other exercise. Swimming is supposed to be very good but is something I dislike, so  I don't do it myself.

Assuming your bike fit is OK itís probably a case of slowly getting some miles into your legs 🦵 🦵 humming bird style. I guess you could post a photo on here of your riding position too. Main thing is youíre up and out on your Thorn. Brilliant stuff!

Bike fit and setup is important.  But, you need to clearly identify what parts of your knees hurt, front or back or side, and if side is it inside or outside.  That info is needed to diagnose fit problems.

I occasionally have to adjust my seatpost height, but when I do I only adjust it maybe 5 to 7 mm at a time.  I used to wrap a piece of electric tape around my seatpost about 5mm above the clamp so I could see if it shifted while riding.  And if I needed to make an adjustment I could see how big the adjustment was.  Stopped using the tape, now have a dot of fingernail polish as a marker on my seatpost, that is a bit more permanent and less obvious.

I have had bad knees for the past half century.  Sometimes when backpacking, I would start to have pain that might last for a year and a half.  In my case, sometimes a patella band (google it) helps.  Last August on a two week backpacking trip, my knees got so bad I put on my patella bands (two) when I put my hiking boots on in the morning.

One ride last year, starting to go up a hill I pushed a bit hard and had a shot of pain, it got worse for next several miles.  Stopped, put on a patella band (I carry two in my handlebar bag) and the pain was almost gone 10 miles later when I got home.

Some people can get out of the saddle and pedal hard by standing on the pedals for uphills, sprints, accelerate after a stop at a stop light, etc.  That has always hurt my knees, stopped doing that over a decade ago.  Instead, gear down and stay in the saddle.

I did a group fully supported trip about a decade ago.  Week long.  Bike, lodging and most food provided.  One gal in the group was a medical professional, she blew out a knee.  Explained in great detail with lots of medical terminology what she did.  She could have ridden in the luggage van for the rest of the week but instead rode the bike slower and at a very high cadence every day.  That worked for her, along with some stretching, but she was a professional and could diagnose what she damaged.

Two weeks ago I did a 200k brevet, no knee problems but I was careful to make sure that I did not overstress my knees.  A few of the steepest hills, I got off the bike and walked it up the hill instead of trying to force the bike up the hill fast enough to maintain balance, that is my rando bike and lowest gear is not as low as my touring bikes.

Thankfully I've never suffered but it is apparently the most common cyclist's complaint (Well second after the price of cake) Plenty of info all over the web, one of the things to draw from it is that it's often not related to the knee but a symptom that something else is wrong, as in4 suggests, bike fit a likely candidate. Or as Martin suggests, simply overdoing it.  There's a condition known as "Spring Knee"  which is simply caused by thinking you can ride on the first sunny day of the year in the same way you did months previously.
I wouldn't do anything too drastic based on a single experience. build up to it.  Also, be aware that you've possibly caused some minor injury that needs time to heal, otherwise you could aggravate that without doing anything wrong.


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