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Cycling injury, recovery and health issues.
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Took up cycling last year, cycled 5,000km on a roadie using runners as my daily commute.
A few weeks ago I switched to clipless pedals (SPD SL), 9% float cleats and shoes but can't stop my knees from hurting. I have adjusted my seat height as I have determined it was too low and have adjusted my cleats so my toes will now point inwards instead of straight as this seems to be the direction my feet naturally point. I have now used the clipless shoes approx 10 times the last 8 weeks, and although it hurts a lot less now my knee muscles are quite sore and stiff at the end of a long ride.
I am planning on getting myself properly adjusted at my LBS, does anyone have any feedback or ideas as to why only using cleats I would be getting these knee pains? does it come down to purely the alignment of the cleat. Given that I've never had knee problems before and it has only started once I've switched to cleats is this somethng everyone runs into? or am I alone.
What knee problems have you had before?
Did you pay attention to the natural position if your feet while using runners? That's the position I'd start with if possible.
Float should only be necessary if your feet move naturally through the pedal stroke (should be able to tell this with runners on) OR the float can compensate for cleats that aren't lined up properly (obviously not the best situation).
Mimicking your runner position would be the first thing I'd try, pay attention to fore/aft in relation to the axle, lateral position as well as angle.
Oops, misread - you've had NO knee probs before. Sorry.
The rest still stands, tell us about your position compared to the runners and how you went about setting up the cleats.
Yes, cleat alignment is very important.
This is a pretty good article about it:
I find that I get sore knees if I don't have my toes pointing outwards enough. Had this problem a few weeks back when I got new shoes and cleats and I just rotated the cleats a bit so that my toes were pointing outwards more and my knees didn't hurt a bit after that.
One of the guys that I know was getting sore knees because the Specialized shoes he had were making his knees point outwards more than they should. If you have a pair of orthotic soles in your shoes they could be doing the same thing as well.
Also if your knees are twisting when you pedal something is setup wrong. The parts that are supposed to twist are your hips and your ankles NOT your knees.
Cleat alignment, general bike fit and after getting both of those checked maybe you need to use cleats that offer less float.
I switched to the blue Shimano cleats after using the 9deg ones my knees appreciate the lesser float, I also find them to be easier to clip in and out.
Good luck sorting it out.
Don't discount a change in effective saddle height and therefore knee bend.
A way to compare to your old setup is to get a feel for what your old setup was by reinstalling it, then quickly swapping back to the new setup and compare.
I find I can compare reasonably well by placing a foot a the bottom of stroke, then with the foot in the same position, straighten my leg and lift my backside off the saddle and compare at what point, by moving back, it touches the saddle. If my backside touches the saddle further back on the saddle than previously, the saddle must be effectively lower. If you keep comparing, eventually you should get a feel for it. I find this works better than comparing numbers as shoe sole thickness, shorts thickness, pedal thickness, saddle padding sag etc come into play with different setups. Especially when comparing different bikes.
Last edited by Nobody on Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
this. Most likely candidate. (yes, nobody, I'm stalking you)
Front or back, Newblah?
^^^ Good question. I found on one bike I setup I was getting pain behind my knees. Turns out I had stuffed it up and was running the saddle higheR than my other bikes. Dropped it 10mm, problem solved.
When I first started using it I was getting inside-front knee pain (medial?) to which my googling indicated that I had to point my toes more inward, did this and now the medial pain is gone, almost so much so that my right knee now almost feels like it is getting pain on the front-outside (lateral) instead. From the last few rides I don't get any sharp pain like the medial pain anymore, but the muscles seem to be getting over-worked and my knees feel a bit stiff after a ride.
I got prices from my LBS (Bikeforce Success) who quoted $70 for a basic fit, including looking at my cleats and also Rick from Churchill cycles who quoted $150, after looking at some other threads he seems to be one of the wiser men on the topic.
I might switch back to just using runners again until my knees feel 100% again and then go see someone to get the fitment done, I'm just scared that even if I get myself 100% fitted at the moment I might still just not be feeling good from the previous medial knee pain that hasn't quite cleared up yet. Given my LBS have been really good so far I might just go and see them first in the hope that I've just done something obviously wrong.
If the LBS fit does help you out then it might be worth trying a set if speedplay pedals. They don't work for everyone but I know a few people with knee issues that swear by them.
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2012 Giant Defy Compo 1
2012 Specialized Roubaix Elite
2013 Giant Talon 0 29er
2013 Flight Podium 1
2014 Bianchi Infinito CV
I think the fitting will reveal some things not right about your current setup. They may have been masked to some extent by the flexibility of your soft soles or knees not right over the pedal axis, but the cost has been inefficient pedalling.
Your new shoes have a much more rigid base by comparison, and your foot position is now consistent.
Cheers for all the advice guys, I am going to try pop down to Bikeforce tonight and will come back with findings.
If you have changed from runners to clipless, then apart from cleat position, saddle height, and float, you've also obviously changed the shoes.
I wonder if there is a difference in forefoot varus or arch support.
When I changed cycling shoes recently I had medial knee pain until I got some specialized arch supports.
I was also a bit tight in the ITB, causing some more toe out than usual, making the excessive forefoot pronation cause even more medial knee pressure.
Something to think about....
Change back to your runners for awhile til your knees like u again... Then find someone to fit u who will spend lots of time on cleat adjustment, as most won't..
Do some ITB and quad stretches too. These might help. They did with me.
Foam rollers work well on the ITB.
Giant TCR SL1 / Cervelo P5 Six / Specialized Langster Pro
You are not alone. I cycled using only sneakers and had no problems. I switched to cleats and got borderline strees fractures in both shins. Mine was because I'm knock kneed. I need a proper bike set up with wedges. It all got to hard for me and I switched back to sneakers and have had no problem since. With a proper set up, cleats should work for most people though.
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i started cycling 14 months ago and managed to do my first 3000km in converse chucks.. must say they are comfortable but proper clipless shoes make so much difference.
Speedplay pedals FTW. I found the friction in the SPD-SLs excessive and it made my knees very sore. The lack of friction in the float in Speedplays takes some getting used to (psychologically) but my knees are much much happier.
Oh, and being double sided, there's much less of playing blind man's bluff with your pedal while trying to accelerate away from the lights with a bus sitting on your back wheel.
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