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Greenbelt
03-05-2012, 01:00 PM
I'm feeling a little sheepish today.

About three or four weeks ago, I started to notice some knee soreness. It felt like the mild tendonitis I used to get sometimes from jogging. But never had anything like it from cycling, even putting in a lot of miles last year.

So I figured I'd just rest a little, take some days off, go a little slower etc., which always seemed to work when I had sore knees from running. On a ride two weeks ago, a friend told me he had had some knee soreness associated with his seat being a little too low, but that an improved fitting had solved the problem.

I thought that couldn't be my problem, since I'd had my seat at the same mark all last year. So I just continued to take it easy. I broke my almost year-long no-Metro streak a couple nights and got a ride home another night, just to keep the miles low.

Then, yesterday, on a group ride, I was riding my other bike for the first time in a while, at least for a long distance. After the ride, my knees weren't sore at all, and when I sprinted into the wind for a few moments at full power to catch up with some other riders, I didn't have to hold back at all. Also, the seat position seemed unusually high. Hmmm..

This morning, I got one block on the commuter bike and I noticed my knee gave a little twinge. I stopped and checked my seatpost. It had slipped maybe 3/8 inch from my mark. Must have happened gradually since I really didn't notice.

That 3/8" really made a difference. Full power and no knee soreness the rest of the way in today. On the one hand, I feel sort of like the princess and the pea that such a small adjustment could make such a big difference in how my legs feel after a ride. But I also feel dumb that I didn't take my friend's advice and check the seat position 2 weeks ago!

Dirt
03-05-2012, 02:13 PM
Awesome post, sir. Thank you.

MCL1981
03-05-2012, 09:08 PM
I know what you mean. I will adjust the seat up and down by like 1/8" while out on a ride trying to get it right when it gets out of whack. Eventually it clicks and you're like "ahhhh".

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 08:31 AM
I think I may have this problem, too, but I recently raised my seat. It was definitely too low before (And in fact it was seeing myself in a photo that Dirt took in the PA Ave cycletracks that brought home how low the seat was). Today my knee hurts. The seat may still be too low, though it seems a little strange that I would have increased pain when I got closer to where I should be. Last week was a pretty typical week mileage-wise. I took an extra ride pulling the trailer on Saturday, but missed a trailer ride during the week.

Anyway, are there any good guidelines for determining proper seat height? I'm going to stop at the LBS on my way home, but I was just wondering if there was anything in particular that I can watch out for.

Greenbelt
04-23-2012, 09:35 AM
I found this perspective helpful. I'm sure there are many others out there...

http://www.rivbike.com/Articles.asp?ID=247
https://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?cat=23

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 09:50 AM
Their instructions on measuring for fit are a little horrifying.

SpokeGrenadeSR
04-23-2012, 09:58 AM
line the crank arm up with the seat tube, put your heel on the pedal and raise or lower the seat until your leg is completely straight.

KLizotte
04-23-2012, 10:13 AM
Anyway, are there any good guidelines for determining proper seat height? I'm going to stop at the LBS on my way home, but I was just wondering if there was anything in particular that I can watch out for.

Be sure to move the seat fore or aft when you change the seat height. If you move the seat upwards, you will have to move the seat slightly forward to keep your knees over the spindles (or where you feel most comfortable) and vice versa. The reason for this is that the seat post is on an angle.

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 10:41 AM
Be sure to move the seat fore or aft when you change the seat height. If you move the seat upwards, you will have to move the seat slightly forward to keep your knees over the spindles (or where you feel most comfortable) and vice versa. The reason for this is that the seat post is on an angle.
Hmm, I wonder if this is my problem, then. Or part of it.

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 01:42 PM
On the bright side, my knee doesn't hurt anymore, which suggests that as soon as I get the fit right, I should be fine. I was worried about jeopardizing my ride coming up (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?2121-A-favor-and-a-favor).

On the negative side, it means it's definitely the bike causing the pain, which is always worrisome.

KLizotte
04-23-2012, 02:28 PM
On the bright side, my knee doesn't hurt anymore, which suggests that as soon as I get the fit right, I should be fine. I was worried about jeopardizing my ride coming up (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?2121-A-favor-and-a-favor).

On the negative side, it means it's definitely the bike causing the pain, which is always worrisome.

Seems strange that it is only one knee and not both. You may have accidentially pulled a muscle in your knee; I imagine pulling a trailer does strange things when riding a bike. I know moving the saddle forward or back can make a huge difference. Be sure you didn't raise the saddle so high that you are now rocking your hips when pedaling.

SpokeGrenadeSR
04-23-2012, 02:35 PM
Seems strange that it is only one knee and not both. You may have accidentially pulled a muscle in your knee; I imagine pulling a trailer does strange things when riding a bike. I know moving the saddle forward or back can make a huge difference. Be sure you didn't raise the saddle so high that you are now rocking your hips when pedaling.the one knee bit isnt that surprising actually because when the saddle is too high or too low the rider naturally dips one side of their body slightly to account for the height, so only one side is actually stretched out.

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 02:35 PM
Seems strange that it is only one knee and not both. You may have accidentially pulled a muscle in your knee; I imagine pulling a trailer does strange things when riding a bike. I know moving the saddle forward or back can make a huge difference. Be sure you didn't raise the saddle so high that you are now rocking your hips when pedaling.
That's true. I am curious why it's only one knee and not the other. I do notice sometimes, especially when climbing, that I feel a little lopsided, like I push a little differently with one leg, if that makes sense.

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 02:36 PM
the one knee bit isnt that surprising actually because when the saddle is too high or too low the rider naturally dips one side of their body slightly to account for the height, so only one side is actually stretched out.
The only issue with that is that I only feel lopsided when I'm standing, so seat height shouldn't make a difference. Maybe it's two separate issues.

SpokeGrenadeSR
04-23-2012, 02:41 PM
here's some top-rated, expert advice about fit

http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/blog/2011/11/knee-pain/
^#5 in this article is what i was referring to with the height bit. i dont know why you would feel it when your standing though, maybe thats residual soreness from your body being adjusted to the improper seated position

http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/blog/2011/04/the-right-side-bias/
^deeper detail about the #5 segment in the previous link

http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/blog/2011/02/seat-height-how-hard-can-it-be/

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 02:47 PM
here's some top-rated, expert advice about fit

http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/blog/2011/11/knee-pain/
^#5 in this article is what i was referring to with the height bit. i dont know why you would feel it when your standing though, maybe thats residual soreness from your body being adjusted to the improper seated position

Based on that article, I wonder if it might be foot position. I use toe-clips, and my right leg (the one with the knee pain) is the one I put down at lights and whatnot. It's rare for me to take the left off the pedal during my commute, and when I do it's always the first back in (at a stop, too) so more likely to be firmly in the clip.

I've been thinking about making the jump to real bike shoes/pedals, so maybe this is the time to do it (though the idea of riding NYC with 30,000 people while learning to use shoes with clips is a little daunting).

KLizotte
04-23-2012, 03:42 PM
Based on that article, I wonder if it might be foot position. I use toe-clips, and my right leg (the one with the knee pain) is the one I put down at lights and whatnot. It's rare for me to take the left off the pedal during my commute, and when I do it's always the first back in (at a stop, too) so more likely to be firmly in the clip.

I've been thinking about making the jump to real bike shoes/pedals, so maybe this is the time to do it (though the idea of riding NYC with 30,000 people while learning to use shoes with clips is a little daunting).

I would advise against trying to learn how to use clipless in such a crowded environment where you will be doing a lot of stopping and starting. I know I would go splat but then again you may be far more coordinated than I am.

I read an article somewhere (perhaps in the above?) that states a lot of people have one leg slightly longer than the other; also, most people lean a little to one side irrespective of whether their legs are two different lengths.

Isn't fitting fun?! Argh.

acc
04-23-2012, 08:12 PM
Somehow I managed to adjust to big girl clipless pedals.
I fell a lot. I never got hurt but it was humiliating.
It took a year for me to be comfortable in Look cleats. It took a week to get used to Crank Brothers.
Just do it. It's worth it but it's hard.
However, I always tried not to clip in both sides when I was in a lot of traffic or riding with a group until I was comfortable with the setup. I never want to put someone else in a precarious position because I'm inept.

ann

jrenaut
04-23-2012, 08:28 PM
I rode to my LBS, and my knee was much better. That's weird, because the ride in is downhill, home is uphill, so I'd expect to feel worse on the way home. I made an appointment with the shop owner for a fitting on Thursday, but I'm less sure it's bike fit than I was before. Maybe I tweaked the knee playing flag football? Slept on it funny? I don't know. I figure the fitting can't hurt.

SpokeGrenadeSR
04-23-2012, 11:21 PM
I rode to my LBS, and my knee was much better. That's weird, because the ride in is downhill, home is uphill, so I'd expect to feel worse on the way home. I made an appointment with the shop owner for a fitting on Thursday, but I'm less sure it's bike fit than I was before. Maybe I tweaked the knee playing flag football? Slept on it funny? I don't know. I figure the fitting can't hurt.yea, that's a good move, i'm getting fitted before my xc trip despite my being pretty comfortable with fitting myself. as long as they know what they're doing, things can only improve right?

Arlingtonrider
04-24-2012, 07:15 AM
I'm one more voice in support of a good professional fitting. I had been off my bike for several weeks a couple of years ago because of Achilles tendinitis and knee issues, and although the fitting wasn't inexpensive and took over two hours, it was worth every penny. All the problems went away and never came back.

jrenaut
04-24-2012, 08:00 AM
My knee feels fine today. Go figure. I felt a little twinge here and there when I pushed down hard, but that was it. I still think the fitting will be worthwhile, but I'm no longer convinced the bike caused the issue. Maybe just aggravated it.

Also, thanks to everyone for the advice. One of the best parts of this forum/community is how helpful everyone is.

Greenbelt
04-24-2012, 08:55 AM
I don't know if this is good advice or not, but it seems to work for me...

I've noticed as I've started riding lots of miles commuting, on mostly flat roads, that I tend to get in a lazy groove perched on the saddle and letting my knees do all the the work. A couple years ago, when I was mostly riding on weekends and a much shorter commute to Metro, I would sprint a lot and try to race up hills, and was getting up out of my seat a lot and changing positions etc.

Now, I'm mostly cruising at a moderate pace, and it's easy to get too comfy and forget to use all the muscles. So, I try to remind myself to pick up the pace for a while or stand up for a while in a harder gear, and then ease off and truly rest a while on my commute, then repeat, trying to use my whole legs and body to ride, not just sitting on the saddle letting my knees do everything. Sort of like interval training (at a much lower level) on the commute I guess. The variability seems to help keep the legs fresher at the end of the day I think.

jrenaut
05-07-2012, 09:14 PM
Well, I solved my problem. It wasn't fit, it wasn't foot position - it was tight quads. I called my sister, a physical therapist, and she suggested that I try stretching my quads. They were really tight, so I stretched some more, and then went for a ride. No pain. I stretched before the 40 mile Five Boro ride yesterday, and my knee felt great.

So, next time you have knee pain, try stretching your quads first. It's cheaper and easier than a fitting. And if it doesn't work, you're not out anything.