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New to cycling, left knee pain- help?

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New to cycling, left knee pain- help?

Old 06-13-20, 08:11 AM
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Trobinson986
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New to cycling, left knee pain- help?

Hi- I recently took up cycling. I bought a nice bike - Giant TCR advanced 2 disc. I went for a nice ride alone for my first ďreal rideĒ it was about 15-20 miles at a comfortable pace- I was alone so I could slow down when I wanted. I felt fine after the ride- zero pains or problems.

Then, the following week I rode with a group who are all experienced cyclists but much older than me (guys in the group were in their 60s and Iím in my early 30s). So I felt like I could keep up without problem. We rode 60miles. Took a break mid way. I felt fine at times but other times I felt like I was really pushing hard to keep up. At the end of the ride my left knee started hurting on the inside of the knee, like at one particular spot within the revolution of the crank there was a quick little pain. It didnít feel like an acute injury but more like an overuse or exhaustion pain. I didnít notice the pain when walking, only while cycling. I could feel it some when I would squat down to sit down- but again just like an overuse soreness not a torn muscle or anything.

now, two weeks later- itís still hurting some when I ride so I havenít gone back out with them. Iíve taken some short rides alone around my neighborhood and can do that without problem - I feel a tiny little bit of soreness still- but Iím afraid to go on the long ride with the group until the feeling is completely gone.

any advice to me? Do you think itís just overuse by riding too far on a first real ride after starting the sport? Tips on how to avoid?
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Old 06-13-20, 08:23 AM
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Too much, too soon. Look up some good stretches and build yourself up to that kind of mileage. I applaud your ability to jump on a bike as a new rider and go that far. Your butt didn't cave in?
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Old 06-13-20, 09:08 AM
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Also check the height of your saddle, and it's position relative to BB. If you are going to get in to it regularly might be worth it to get a proper fit.
Are you using clipless pedals? Check to see where your toes are pointed. They might be too much in or out on left side and it's putting tension on the knee.
Also if you are using clipless it's never too early to practice proper pedalling technique. Find a quite road, shift to easy gear, unclip one side and pedal with one leg then switch. You are looking for a smooth motion.
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Old 06-13-20, 09:39 AM
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Hello Trobinson986 . Welcome to cycling and to bikeforums. I would agree that what you are experiencing is an overuse problem. These problems can be insidious and frustrating. It will likely take a while for the supporting soft tissues around your major muscle groups to condition and heal if they are already a little pissed off.

I would recommend backing off for a while, then starting up very slowly, gradually building towards the distance that you would like to achieve. Some coaches recommend that even seasoned athletes not increase their volume on the bike by more than 10% per week, and to pepper in a rest/light week every few. In addition, I would educate yourself about strengthening and stretching that you can do, and try to isolate exactly where the pain is coming from so you can do some targeted research, Or just see a PT.

Also, I would recommend investing in a professional bike fitting service, as often times these issues originate from a poor bike fit. We wish you luck!

Lastly, I am moving this thread from Road Bike Racing to general Road Cycling, as the topic is not specific to racing and you are likely to get a wider breadth of advice there. Good luck again.
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Old 06-13-20, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
Also check the height of your saddle, and it's position relative to BB. If you are going to get in to it regularly might be worth it to get a proper fit.
Are you using clipless pedals? Check to see where your toes are pointed. They might be too much in or out on left side and it's putting tension on the knee.
Also if you are using clipless it's never too early to practice proper pedalling technique. Find a quite road, shift to easy gear, unclip one side and pedal with one leg then switch. You are looking for a smooth motion.
Yes, Iím using clip less pedals. I read that that may be the problem In that maybe the clip less attachment was mounted too close to the inside of my foot and my feet were too wide in relationship to my saddle or midline so I adjusted my petal position to move my feet closer together and went for a shorter ride ~15 miles at a slow pace. I did this yesterday. Now today, the outside of the same knee hurts... strangely. Maybe I should get a proper fitting. Theyíre about 350 dollars but perhaps worth it? You guys think thatís a good investment? I do plan on getting more into cycling as long as knee pain is managed
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Old 06-13-20, 11:13 AM
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Definitely get a professional fit if you're going to be doing anything other than casual riding. Just make sure you're going to a reputable fitter. Like you, I had left knee pain. Spent probably $1,000 going to different fitters, never could get the pain to go away. Then I measured my sit bones and discovered I have exceptionally narrow sit bones (100mm). Rule of thumb is that your saddle should be ~20mm to 30mm wider than your sit bones. First fitter measured me, didn't have a narrow enough saddle (didn't tell me this), so put me on the narrowest saddle he had (138mm). All other fitters kept me in the same saddle. On a whim, I decided to try a Berk Lupina saddle. It's 132mm, but has a really round shape and feels narrower than it is. Knee pain went away immediately, and hasn't come back since.

Long story short: your saddle could be too wide (in addition to being too high, too set back, improper cleat position, etc.).
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Old 06-13-20, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by RNAV View Post
Definitely get a professional fit if you're going to be doing anything other than casual riding. Just make sure you're going to a reputable fitter. Like you, I had left knee pain. Spent probably $1,000 going to different fitters, never could get the pain to go away. Then I measured my sit bones and discovered I have exceptionally narrow sit bones (100mm). Rule of thumb is that your saddle should be ~20mm to 30mm wider than your sit bones. First fitter measured me, didn't have a narrow enough saddle (didn't tell me this), so put me on the narrowest saddle he had (138mm). All other fitters kept me in the same saddle. On a whim, I decided to try a Berk Lupina saddle. It's 132mm, but has a really round shape and feels narrower than it is. Knee pain went away immediately, and hasn't come back since.

Long story short: your saddle could be too wide (in addition to being too high, too set back, improper cleat position, etc.).
interesting, good to know. What do you mean by ďsit bonesĒ?

also, I live in Manhattan. Does anyone know of a reputable bike fitter in the NYC area?
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Old 06-14-20, 07:17 AM
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I had a similar problem in my right knee which was corrected by angling my cleat slightly so my toe was allowed to point more outward. This happens to be the natural way I walk due to an old injury, eliminated the pain immediately but I assume my condition might be a bit unusual.
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Old 06-14-20, 07:29 AM
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DO NOT go get a "specialized" high dollar bike fit yet. It would be a waste of your money.
I would contact the shop you purchased the bike from (if so) or a shop in the area and ask them some basic advice or for a BASIC fitting. You need to ride some and actually develop a style, musculature, form for riding before you try to tune that fit and style for comfort and performance.

With that said, after you have been riding for a while a fit is a wonderful tool. Make sure that your fitter has TIME for you, not only during the initial consultation and fitting, but later for minor adjustments and such that will be needed. In a very basic fit you should expect nothing more than a tape measure and maybe a 'sit bone tool'. A true high end fitting is going to involve you warming up on your bike a few miles/minutes and then typically will involve you riding on a camera which will take measurements and make recommendations based on the fit model (school of thought). There are a few and in some cases you have to find the model that works well for you.

Most bike shops should have included a very basic fit with the purchase. In your case, slow down, take it easy. Give yourself a little time to break in to this new activity. Read and try minor adjustments and such, but don't go too far too fast. It can quickly turn from discomfort to injury. Go for the fit in a few months, if you still need it.
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Old 06-14-20, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Trobinson986 View Post
interesting, good to know. What do you mean by ďsit bonesĒ?

also, I live in Manhattan. Does anyone know of a reputable bike fitter in the NYC area?
Sit down on a couch and squeeze the soft tissue on your read end upward... you'll find that somewhere near the middle of each cheek, you'll feel a distinct bump of hard tissue. That's your sit bone. Where specifically that contacts your saddle depends on riding position.

I'll leave it to the NYC people to point out a good bike fitter but IMO the best way to find a good one is to ask around. Bike fitting is 100% the best thing money can buy if you're going to be riding more and more.
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Old 06-14-20, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
DO NOT go get a "specialized" high dollar bike fit yet. It would be a waste of your money.
I would contact the shop you purchased the bike from (if so) or a shop in the area and ask them some basic advice or for a BASIC fitting. You need to ride some and actually develop a style, musculature, form for riding before you try to tune that fit and style for comfort and performance.

With that said, after you have been riding for a while a fit is a wonderful tool. Make sure that your fitter has TIME for you, not only during the initial consultation and fitting, but later for minor adjustments and such that will be needed. In a very basic fit you should expect nothing more than a tape measure and maybe a 'sit bone tool'. A true high end fitting is going to involve you warming up on your bike a few miles/minutes and then typically will involve you riding on a camera which will take measurements and make recommendations based on the fit model (school of thought). There are a few and in some cases you have to find the model that works well for you.

Most bike shops should have included a very basic fit with the purchase. In your case, slow down, take it easy. Give yourself a little time to break in to this new activity. Read and try minor adjustments and such, but don't go too far too fast. It can quickly turn from discomfort to injury. Go for the fit in a few months, if you still need it.
i hope itís not An Injury at this point. The day after the ride I couldnít even do a lunge using my left knee. Now I can do a lunge without even really noticing any discomfort. But after cycling for about 10-15 minutes it starts to become noticeable a little bit. Not in a painful way but more so just that I notice and feel the problem a little bit.
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Old 06-14-20, 08:55 AM
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I mean... It sounds like an injury.

Regarding fit:

​​​​​​As you've just started out, I think a basic fit is fine. Should cost about 100 bucks without any needed parts and take about an hour ish.

You need to slow down and build up slowly. You shouldn't be ramping up this fast and you shouldn't be doing this much intensity yet. You need to let your body figure things out and adapt before jumping into the intensity or longer rides.

Start with the 20 mile rides, build up to 60 over 5-6 weeks ramping up maybe 10% in length/volume each week. If you end up with another overuse injury like this it's going to take you off the bike for a few weeks again.... Not worth it.
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Old 06-14-20, 09:00 AM
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Great advice. Going to go for a slow 15 miles or so today
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Old 06-14-20, 02:06 PM
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Iím a healthy 33 year old. Run regularly without problems. Workout in the gym regularly- in good shape. Never suffer injuries athletically, to be honest, prior to this early 2nd ride cycling knee problem. Based on everyoneís experience, do you think this is just an early on overuse problem? Perhaps did I just push it too hard to try and keep up with this group on a 60 mile ride when I basically had never really cycled before?

how long do you think until I am able to start training again pain free? And should I just completely stop riding the bike for a while or should I keep training at low levels until I feel better? Iím out riding around my neighborhood today and it definitely still hurts. Iím fine to sprint up and down the streets and ride fast but I just feel a little bit of discomfort in the left knee (inside). Not enough to stop at all but just something there - but definitely bad enough that if I were to go on that long ride again I would be completely screwed...
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Old 06-14-20, 02:23 PM
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There are sport specific biomechanic adaptations required.

If you don't believe that it's an overuse issue then you should keep riding on it while it still bothers you like you're suggesting and your body will let you know pretty soon after.

Or you could just rest and do something that doesn't bother it till you can ride again. I know that sounds outlandish though!
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Old 06-14-20, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
There are sport specific biomechanic adaptations required.

If you don't believe that it's an overuse issue then you should keep riding on it while it still bothers you like you're suggesting and your body will let you know pretty soon after.

Or you could just rest and do something that doesn't bother it till you can ride again. I know that sounds outlandish though!
what do you mean ďthere are spot specific biomechanic adaptations?Ē

yes, I kinda feel like itís an overuse issue because I did a longish ride before this 30 miles or so but at my own slower pace and I was completely fine after

the issue which this recent ride - I think - is that I was with a group of guys I was reallllllly trying to keep up with and I think I just overstrained myself, plus it was a longer ride than Iíve ever done
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Old 06-14-20, 02:43 PM
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I'm sure that you will get a lot of good advice but sometimes you don't have a reliable bike shop available to you. In general if you have a pain in the front of your knee your saddle is quite a bit too low. It you have a pain in the muscle in back of your knee you have the saddle only a little too low or too far back. The position of your knee with the cranks at 3 o'clock should be with your kneecap directly over the pedal. The construction of some people's kneecap is such that this is very slightly variable. The saddle height should be such that at bottom dead center, your leg should be slightly less than fully extended. Every person has different hip configurations so this is also slightly variable. But at no point in the revolution should your leg be fully extended. The extremes of crank length are 165 mm and 180 mm. You can tell the difference between these but in general you can't tell a difference in the normal lengths sold - 170, 172.5 and 175mm. However, if you're a person with an irregular femur and tibia ratio you might find a longer or short "normal size" gives you pain. But that is unusual and the advice that you have to get used to riding is probably more viable.

Some bicycle shops can set up a bike perfectly. Shops that order custom made bikes in particular, but some can't do any better than you can yourself. Though often it is easier for them because they can stand off to one side and get a better picture. Custom bike builders are in almost every major city and they usually know bike fit inside and out.
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Old 06-14-20, 04:14 PM
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Once your knee gets rid of it's pain, then anytime you feel it starting to strain again.... shift to a lower gear.

Yesterday I saw one person struggling up a hill with a cadence less than 10 rpm. They were in the big chain ring and not in the biggest rear cog. Two people were walking their bikes up hills and those too were not in the biggest rear. Couldn't see the front.

I'm pretty sure they'll have knee pain if they don't give up cycling first.
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Old 06-14-20, 04:53 PM
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another detail i should mention is that i did feel like i was in a LOW gear the whole ride...i was pushing hard because i thought it was best. since then, ive gotten a garmen edge 830 with cadence sensor and learned that i should stay around 90rpm. while riding at 90rpm i feel like im spinning like crazy, so i probably did that whole long ride, without any training at like ~50rpm or less.....maybe that contribtuted to my knee pain.

now i just need to figure out how to get rid of the knee pain, get back to where i was before this long ride, and then start building up my training as ive learned is the proper way. any aadvice on how to do all of that?
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Old 06-14-20, 05:39 PM
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I get knee discomfort occasionally in the right knee. That knee tends to flop to the inside brushing the top tube. I've corrected this with a 1 degree shim under the cleat so that the legs pumps straight up and down with no lateral movement. I also do knee exercises with lateral moves to insure the knees are as strong as possible and this helps immediately. Good luck.
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Old 06-14-20, 06:30 PM
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Are you guys honestly suggesting shimming to a guy that's got only a few rides total under his belt?

Come on lol.
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Old 06-14-20, 06:46 PM
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If you were spinning 80 to 90 rpm and not putting any muscle into pedaling for the ride, then you might have something that a doctor needs to look at. Though if it's something torn, that sometimes doesn't show up on a normal MRI unless you are at one of the few places that can do the MRI with your knee fully bent.

If you sometimes during the ride just muscled a big gear to accelerate hard or climb even for just a little, you may have injured it and just need to let it rest some. At least don't go hard and long till it gets better.
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Old 06-15-20, 11:25 AM
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Yeah it seems like my mcl or patellar tendon is really strained and i guess still inflamed? its virtually painless when im doing anything other than climbing stairs or cycling. very strange. I hope it goes away and that this isint a recurring problem regarding cycling. im hoping i can gt past this and then cycle regularly without issue

I believe i was definitely riding at less that 80/90 rpm for basically the entire ride. so, i think its an injury
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Old 06-15-20, 11:42 AM
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Sounds like a strain and overuse injury. I recommend a professional fit that can identify posture and rotational abnormalities. From what you are describing it sounds like a muscle strain with maybe a inflammation/sprain of the medial collateral ligament. This happens a fair bit due to overuse and overreaching (in terms of level of fitness and attempted effort) which tends to lead to poor body mechanics as your body recruits other muscles and structures to help out accomplishing what you are demanding of it. While I cannot diagnose you, and nothing here should be taken as medical advise, these injuries tend to resolve with slow physical therapy at home (sometimes within a week of rest and light activity the symptoms are gone). Then gradually building up your fitness and body to achieve those goals. Stretching can help as well. Two things that will exacerbate this will be high cadences with low resistance (i.e spinning) and low cadence with high resistance (i.e. grinding at like 40-50rpm); at least when you first start cycling. Pedaling drills help adjusting to these settings (at least they did for me). Zwift has some pedaling drill work-outs that might help. Just rest and rehabilitate the injury and it should improve. If it does not, or if you have sensations of instability in your knee, you definitely need to see an orthopedist. Specifically a sports medicine orthopedist. Again, this is not me giving you medical advice or a diagnosis, only speaking in general.
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Old 06-29-20, 07:39 AM
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Itís now been 4 weeks now (total) since this ride that put my knee in pain. I can ride around my neighborhood short distances without feeling any pain now. Sometimes when Iím not on my bike and I squat low or climb stairs I can feel a little pain still. It seems to be getting better. I havenít yet suited up and gone on a real ride yet again- Just a couple of short test rides. What do you recommend as a good riding plan to build up? How many miles how many times a week?
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