Bike Fit Basics – Knee Pain

Several months ago I watched a really useful video, which gave me insight into the possible causes of my knee pain when cycling. It helped me understand how moving a saddle affects the knee and the strain that this joint can undergo when pedaling

When I started riding longer distances and especially when Allez Prestwich (AP) Cycling Club introduced me to some of the local hills they love so much, I found that I got a few aches and pains in my legs.

On one of my first club rides I definitely didn’t drink enough and I got cramp due to dehydration. Mark from AP helped me deal with these cramps with stretches using a pavement kerb. On the rides where I made a conscious effort to drink regularly and stay hydrated, I totally avoided muscles getting sore and cramps. I generally pop 1 or 2 electrolyte tabs into my water bottles (bidon), I found i sweat less if I top up my electrolytes throughout the ride and not just with gels.

On hilly rides just above my left knee could get a little painful, especially after longer stops for people to fix punctures. Craig from AP showed me a few stretches which really did the trick and helped me finish the ride. He called them quadricep stretches and they basically involved gently stretching the thigh muscles by pulling back the left foot towards your bum and holding it for 30 seconds.

However, recently I’ve had a lot of knee trouble due to a medical condition called Osgood Schlatters. I have a plate of bone which grew inside the tendon that goes across my left knee cap. Normally I get about one week of quite severe knee pain every 2 to 4 years due to inflammation around that tendon, and the rest of the time I’m fine. However, in October and November this year the pain came back three times and I’ve had to take a week off cycling each time.

I’m back on the bike again and I off medication. My knee still doesn’t feel right, but at least I can commute to work as having to rely on buses over the last few months almost drove me insane. I waste about 2 to 3 hours a day relying on public transport. Normally by bike I can walk my daughter to school then cycle to work and cycle home in the evening all in just 55 minute.

Until the other day I thought my bike setup was perfect, but after just moving my saddle 1 cm higher I felt an instant difference and much less strain on my knee. I have a feeling about 5 months ago when I was trying to find the source of a mystery creak, I had taken off my saddle and seat post to clean and grease them.

This maintenance didn’t solve the creak, that was actually due to a pedal not tightened enough into the crank arm. I must not have put the saddle and seat post back in the correct place. The Durian rider in one of his videos suggested using Tipex (white correction fluid) to mark original seat posts and saddle rails positions when doing maintenance. I don’t often heed Durian rider’s advice, but I might start following this tip in the future.

So all this had got me thinking about splashing some of my hard-earned money on a bike fit session. I may start and see if I can find a bike fit application for my mobile which might be adequate. I’ll update you on any ‘Bike Fit’ progress as and when it happens. I’d love to hear your experiences and any tips or advice you can share with me in the comments below about this topic.

I’ll leave you with that video I found so useful from Daniel Dziemieszonek (AKA Cannondany) on the ShaiBike YouTube Channel.

Author: David Jackson

Hello, I'm a 38 yo cyclist trying to get healthy and set a good example for my daughter. I work for a Charity by day and in 2017 I rode my first century!

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