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Indoor cycling & sore knees

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Indoor cycling & sore knees

Old 01-26-22, 02:00 PM
  #1  
CoogansBluff
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Indoor cycling & sore knees

This might be a 'duh' moment, but I think I've learned indoor and outdoor cycling ain't exactly the same. My wife (who doesn't bike outdoors) and I bought an indoor bike (Bowflex Velocore) about 4-6 weeks ago. I was hoping it would help me stay fit during the colder months. My enthusiasm for biking outdoors in sub-50 degrees has begun to wane. I'll grind through it if necessary, but now that I have an alternative, I've been off the road bike and on the indoor bike.

However, my knees are swelled and sore. I've never had that happen before from doing anything. Got the knees checked today, no injury, but apparently a classic case of overuse in a new activity that I mistook for an indoor version of the old activity. My road bike endurance conspired against me, making it easy for me to pedal for a long time, but against greater/non-stop resistance that my knees couldn't tolerate. Doctor says it won't hurt them to continue riding indoors or out, but that I need to take it down a notch until my knees catch up.

Anyone have any other insights on this issue, or thoughts on indoor bikes in general?

(edit to note - I'm 58, so I might've been fine doing this 20 years ago)
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Old 01-26-22, 02:06 PM
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In my experience, it's the relatively static position that can cause a problem. When we're outside, we stop, we start, we stand up to sprint for a light, etc. Inside, you tend to grind in the same position, so I have to remind myself to stand up every once in awhile.
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Old 01-26-22, 02:10 PM
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You probably already have this taken care of, but have to ask just to cover it..........is the fit adjusted when you use the indoor bike 100% identical to your outdoor bike each time you use it? I mean, within reason. Like, you set it up just right once with a fabric tape measure then know in the future "set the bars up to the 10.5 setting, bars out to 12.2, saddle up to 8.9, saddle back to 7.5" kind of deal.

It's something to be cautious of sharing a bike with another person that's a stationary.

I used to go to the work gym and use a Cycleops stationary trainer before Covid hit and we got booted from that gym. I used a fabric tape the first time to set it up to my fit. Then noted what the little tick marks were at on the stationary to quickly put them there each time I rode it.
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Old 01-26-22, 02:27 PM
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Sounds pretty simple. You hate the indoor bike so you want to compress the workout of a 2-3 hour ride into 30 minutes.

I have an indoor trainer that I’ve used very little over the years so I understand the boredom.

I understand there are programs where you watch a screen that simulates, to a point, an outdoor ride. Maybe that will help you ride more in your zone indoors.

John
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Old 01-26-22, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
In my experience, it's the relatively static position that can cause a problem. When we're outside, we stop, we start, we stand up to sprint for a light, etc. Inside, you tend to grind in the same position, so I have to remind myself to stand up every once in awhile.
That's a good point. No, I haven't stood up or stopped. I rode my outdoor bike for the first time in a couple of weeks yesterday, despite the sore knees, and it seemed like hardly any strain on the knees at all.
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Old 01-26-22, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Sounds pretty simple. You hate the indoor bike so you want to compress the workout of a 2-3 hour ride into 30 minutes.

I have an indoor trainer that Iíve used very little over the years so I understand the boredom.

I understand there are programs where you watch a screen that simulates, to a point, an outdoor ride. Maybe that will help you ride more in your zone indoors.

John
That's an exaggeration, but yes, those factors are at play. This particular bike allows me to watch Netflix and other streamed shows as well as bike virtual tours of places like New York City or Las Vegas. It does relieve the tedium.
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Old 01-26-22, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
You probably already have this taken care of, but have to ask just to cover it..........is the fit adjusted when you use the indoor bike 100% identical to your outdoor bike each time you use it? I mean, within reason. Like, you set it up just right once with a fabric tape measure then know in the future "set the bars up to the 10.5 setting, bars out to 12.2, saddle up to 8.9, saddle back to 7.5" kind of deal.

It's something to be cautious of sharing a bike with another person that's a stationary.

I used to go to the work gym and use a Cycleops stationary trainer before Covid hit and we got booted from that gym. I used a fabric tape the first time to set it up to my fit. Then noted what the little tick marks were at on the stationary to quickly put them there each time I rode it.
Haven't done that actually, but that's good advice. I do realize that need to have them more in synch, but I've never measured. I think I should. You're right.
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Old 01-26-22, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
That's an exaggeration, but yes, those factors are at play. This particular bike allows me to watch Netflix and other streamed shows as well as bike virtual tours of places like New York City or Las Vegas. It does relieve the tedium.
Sorry, I didn't mean to exaggerate and put words in your mouth.

But if you can ride the same amount of time, you should be able to dial down the resistance to a similar level of effort. And simulating stops and out of the saddle would probably help too.

John
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Old 01-26-22, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Sorry, I didn't mean to exaggerate and put words in your mouth.

But if you can ride the same amount of time, you should be able to dial down the resistance to a similar level of effort. And simulating stops and out of the saddle would probably help too.

John
No, you were right. Instead of compressing 2-3 hours into 30 minutes, it's more like 2 hours into 60 minutes. That's all I was saying. Concept is the same. And although I like this bike, it doesn't have a way of automatically adjusting resistance. You have to manually do it, which is a chore. Easier to stay on the same resistance throughout. Wish I could automatically program some occasional hills into the workout. I think Peloton does that. Lots of light miles with a few climbs would mimic road biking much better.
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Old 01-26-22, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
I think Peloton does that. Lots of light miles with a few climbs would mimic road biking much better.
Hang in there. Peleton might be available at Big Lots before you know it.

John
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Old 01-26-22, 04:54 PM
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These spin bikes can hurt the knees it you ride at one resistance for a long time. This will strain the knees. A smart bike or trainer varies the resistance in sim mode based on gps. So you get relief from pushing the same resistance for so long. I ride indoors most of the time now due to my wifeís health.
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Old 01-26-22, 04:59 PM
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I can't say I've had this issue and I do a LOT of indoor riding over winter. It is definitely more intensive than outdoor riding without all the micro-breaks. Repetitive riding on the same resistance and cadence has probably just found your weakest link, especially if you had wound down your outdoor riding beforehand.

I would check your saddle height and just take it easy for a few sessions while you build up. Your knees will probably get stronger if you allow enough recovery between workouts and don't over do it. That's assuming your saddle position is okay and not aggravating the situation.
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Old 01-26-22, 09:26 PM
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Have you looked at cleats, shoes, and Q factor?
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Old 01-26-22, 10:11 PM
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Do you have access to an indoor "dumb" trainer? If so, it would be interesting to put your favorite/comfortable bike on the indoor trainer and see if you replicate the knee issue. If not, I would suspect it has something to do with the fit or resistance settings on the Bowflex.
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Old 01-26-22, 11:15 PM
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On really nasty days I go to the gym to get my 25 miles in and I've noticed lately that I spend the same amount of time on the machine at the gym as I do on my bike to cover the same distance, but the machine is a constant uphill grind. I never reach the top of the hill so I never get to coast back down. When I get back on the bike after a couple of days at the gym I seem to fly and never get tired. I feel fortunate that at 73 I might be a little stiff first thing in the morning, but I rarely ever have aches and pains and I attribute my good fortune to many miles on my bikes. Good luck to you,
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Old 01-27-22, 06:07 AM
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I use an elliptical instead of a trainer for a couple reasons. One is that it's a full-body workout, so it really is easier to "compact" the length of the workout while doing an equivalent amount of cardio. The second is that I find the similarity between indoor and outdoor cycling causes me to go into the alert mode of brain activity (scanning for traffic, obstructions, etc.) I'm using on the road while I'm riding on the trainer. There's nothing more boring for me than to be super-conscious of what I'm doing while I'm actually not moving. It makes every hour seem like 3. I can zone out on the elliptical and watch tv or listen to a podcast on the elliptical, but I'm just not able to split my attention that way on the cycle.

I can't prove it, but I suspect that the elliptical is also a lot better for working out my knees.

The advantage of indoor cycling is the workout is closer to outdoor cycling, but as a general fitness machine, I don't think it has a lot of advantages over something that requires you to keep your body upright.
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Old 01-28-22, 09:48 AM
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It is likely a matter of fit. Something is different your knees done like.
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Old 01-28-22, 11:11 AM
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Lots of things; probably fit, then likely pushing too-high resistance, too high cadence or probably all of the above.
Stationary bikes are usually direct-drive, so itís like riding fixed- gear, if youíre not working against the bike, the bike is working against you, thereís no coasting. Lowering the resistance and turning a higher cadence will cut down on the push-and-pull that can beat up your legs.

I find that stationary bikes, especially non-interactive ďdumbĒ bikes are like drinking non-alcoholic beer; itís okay, but itís missing something. Without the wheels on the road, changing gears, steering and handling the bike, itís just not the same and I canít convince myself otherwise.
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Old 01-28-22, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Lots of things; probably fit, then likely pushing too-high resistance, too high cadence or probably all of the above.
Stationary bikes are usually direct-drive, so itís like riding fixed- gear, if youíre not working against the bike, the bike is working against you, thereís no coasting. Lowering the resistance and turning a higher cadence will cut down on the push-and-pull that can beat up your legs.

I find that stationary bikes, especially non-interactive ďdumbĒ bikes are like drinking non-alcoholic beer; itís okay, but itís missing something. Without the wheels on the road, changing gears, steering and handling the bike, itís just not the same and I canít convince myself otherwise.
Couldn't agree more, but when it's snowing, windy, and just plain cold out there isn't much alternative.
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Old 01-28-22, 08:17 PM
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I hate to be the one to say it, but were I a betting man, I’d put my money on CoogansBluff has entered the world of arthritis.
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Old 01-28-22, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Low resistance, high rpm cadence cadence in fixed gear isn't supposed to cause any problem unless the fit is off, usually the saddle is too high.
And stationary bikes never fit like Ďrealí bikes
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Old 01-30-22, 09:36 PM
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Need to do a slow 10 minute warmup with a light load on your legs and be sure that the seat height allows for 90% extension of the leg. Usually sore knees are the result of shoe cleat alignment or a seat that is the wrong height. With a new bike I set the seat so it is a bit too high and then after a full warmup and giving my muscles and ligaments time to warm up and stretch I will start gradually lowering the seat until I can ride while keeping my hip bones level.

Ice is magical in reducing swelling and hastening recovery by allowing the body to clear waste products from exercise. 20 minutes is a good time for the ice bags on the knee(s).
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Old 01-31-22, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
This might be a 'duh' moment, but I think I've learned indoor and outdoor cycling ain't exactly the same. My wife (who doesn't bike outdoors) and I bought an indoor bike (Bowflex Velocore) about 4-6 weeks ago. I was hoping it would help me stay fit during the colder months. My enthusiasm for biking outdoors in sub-50 degrees has begun to wane. I'll grind through it if necessary, but now that I have an alternative, I've been off the road bike and on the indoor bike.

However, my knees are swelled and sore. I've never had that happen before from doing anything. Got the knees checked today, no injury, but apparently a classic case of overuse in a new activity that I mistook for an indoor version of the old activity. My road bike endurance conspired against me, making it easy for me to pedal for a long time, but against greater/non-stop resistance that my knees couldn't tolerate. Doctor says it won't hurt them to continue riding indoors or out, but that I need to take it down a notch until my knees catch up.

Anyone have any other insights on this issue, or thoughts on indoor bikes in general?

(edit to note - I'm 58, so I might've been fine doing this 20 years ago)

Had a similiar situation happen to me. Bought a wahoo kickr back in October, and was in a situation where I was having to use that more and more instead of riding out side. I put a bike on it that I have done a number of centuries on and sure enough within the first week the pain in my left knee was unbearable. Felt like it was popping and or tearing. Went to a sports doctor and got x-rays done, nothing showed up, and was diagnosed with runners knee. Told to rest and avoid the trainer.

I ride outside now unless I absolutely have to get on the trainer, and when I do use the trainer I keep it strictly zone 2. Even today using the trainer a couple times a month my knee will start to flare up while iím on it.
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