Further addendum to all this madness - I spaced my right pedal out 4mm and went for a gentle ride to see how the knee felt. Still just as painful. D'oh!
Thoroughly pissed off by now, I went and read every single bit of literature I could about forefoot, cleat and rearfoot wedging including all of Steve Hogg's stuff which is nicely written and clear. Determined to get to the bottom of this, I also took some photos of my feet, which I had always percieved to be reasonably symmetrical;
You can see the left foot is reasonably straight, and has an almost neutral rearfoot and forefoot. The right foot is a retarded mongoloid piece of junk which has a tibial torsion, a rearfoot AND a forefoot varus. So I figured I needed to correct my foot intrinsically as well as just rotating it outwards a bit to stop the knee pain, since we've eliminated every other option. I ordered some of the stuff recommended by Steve Hogg including a wedge kit and a set of insoles - the amount of angulation I can see in those photos is not going to be simple to correct so I'd better use the proper gear I think.
Strangely since doing all this, my left hip (the original problem) has been perfectly fine.
I hope others read this thread and all the complicated mucking around helps someone else out there to get a nice, painfree bike fit as well as me.
I just picked up a set of speedplays for cheap in expectation of needing the extra adjustment they offer. The longer axles aren't cheap, hope I don't need to get them!
Marty do you just use a longer axle on your dodgy foot, and leave the other one standard?
No I was on the limit on the other side too so I fitted both. I can't see a problem with that though if needed. The axles I have are after market bought in the US for $60 for the set. If you want the details I'll send you a pm. With the speedplays make sure they re not FLOGGED i.e can easily read the R and L symbols on the pedals. I bought a second hand set here a few weeks ago and got ripped off they were totally worn out.
Mate details on those axles would be awesome, they're super exxy everywhere I can find, almost as expensive as new pedals! I got the speedplays off eBay, been used once - no marks anywhere they look brand new, stoked. Only had a brief ride with them so far, pushed all the way in and backstay clearance for my foot is much better.
Interestingly, I upped my saddle height the other day but I managed to leave the nose pointing 1-2mm off centre.
After riding the 10kms to work, i had a pain in only one of my glutes exactly as you described.
This may be a longshot, but could your pelvis in the riding position be slightly twisted to one side, possibly due to your ankle differences? Which means that if you slightly offset your saddle nose to one side, it may alleviate the pain?
Further addendum - had four weeks' rest from cycling while on holiday, bought a whole bunch of steve hogg's stuff (arch supports, heel wedges, shim stacks etc) and set myself up according to his recommendations. Went for a ride and the pain returned just as bad as before. Very unhappy! I tried all different combinations of arch support, wedging and even a small 3mm shim stack in the right foot, nothing made much difference at all.
I was pretty bummed and thinking my knee was permanently damaged at this point. I had almost resigned myself to getting an MRI scan done on it to assess the damage and see if it needed surgery, then I decided to take a video of my hips from behind to see if I was getting any subtle "right side bias" type issues as Steve calls them.
Well, I was pretty surprised to say the least - despite having perfect standing symmetry in my pelvis, equal leg length and equal knee angles on the bike, I have a MASSIVE right side bias which drops my right hip down very heavily as I pedal with the right leg. It also rotates the right pelvis forwards significantly at the same time. I have NO idea where it's coming from, given that I appear to be mechanically symmetrical all I can assume is that it's a neurological, or functional assymmetry, or possibly a hugely different amount of heel drop on the right versus the left leg which is changing the effective length of the leg. It was extremely pronounced.
I set up the trainer and video camera and started adding shims to my right foot. I found with a total shim height of around 10mm my hips were pretty level, although could probably use even a few more mm of lift to make it perfectly even. Cycling like this on the trainer today was totally weird, it felt like my right leg was strong again, and there was no appreciable knee pain, even under heavy load. My hips still felt like I had even pressure on the saddle, but my knee and foot just felt really strange, but in a good way.
So there you go, I've emailed Steve and asked his suggestions on what to do from here - 10mm is a very large shim stack to use for a mechanically symmetrically person but if that's what I need, then that's what I'll have to do I guess. Steve might have some suggestions on what to do, and I'm wondering if it will even itself out over time as my leg strengthens up again.
Anyway all very interesting stuff!
Yes I have now had two bike fits - the retul one I can now appreciate was completely useless because all it was doing was tracking angles and trying to get me to conform to "normal" positional averages. unfortunately I look pretty much perfect from the side, and only marginally assymmetrical from the front, but if they had bothered to have a quick glance at me from behind the issue would have been reasonably obvious to the eye of a skilled observer. The other bike fit I would have assumed would have picked it up - he came highly recommended. He did comment that I sat twisted on my saddle but told me it was probably due to the wrong seat - ha! How about a 12mm functional leg length difference?
Anyway I rode this morning for the first time without pain - did 75km on the flats, it was brilliant being able to ride again without crippling pain! My legs felt totally different - the right leg felt nice and strong and was participating in the stroke really well for once. My body tried to adapt to the massive change (I was using an 8mm stack under the right cleat) but inevitably I got a bit of left hamstring tightness towards the end, the muscle and nervous systems have a bit of adapting to do over the next few weeks I think.
This afternoon I sat down with the wind trainer and video camera and tried to figure out what the optimum shim stack height was to get me as symmetrical as possible. I kept adding shims and finally saw good symmetry in the pelvis halves once I'd added a total of 12mm of shim holy hell! This is for a very symmetrical body "off bike" remember - I still wonder where all this assymmetry on the bike is coming from? After doing this I started lowering the seat as per steve's instructions to stop the back of the knee accelerating too quickly at the bottom of the stroke. I ended up being able to drop the seat about 1cm to where it looked the best on the video, and changed my seat setback to suit as per steve's guidance. All of this seemed to lower the amount of side-to-side hip rocking as well which is probably good I guess.
Anyway I've got another 60km ride planned tomorrow so we'll see how that goes. I'm just stoked to be riding without pain! Going to talk to Steve about bike fitting courses and get into this stuff I think - it's really piqued my interest now.
What do you know there is an elephant . Such a bias (which you are describing) is not a little thing it should have a clear underlying cause I am surprised you could not feel it. I have a slight bias to my right leg because I have had surgery to my left and it is a little weaker (only marginally) and I can feel it and notice that when I am TT position I get a slight pain in my right hip which I attribute to this, not surprisingly by doing some strength work (only minor) concentrating on using that left leg more, some stretching (to lengthen muscles that were getting a bit tight on my right because of it) and some practice in the TT position and I was fixed.
Now based of this parable instead of shimming (ok maybe shim for a while to help ride while trying to deal with the problem) I would find the cause of this bias, which I am sure will be a muscle length or strength issue. Deal with this and be able to ride pain free without lots of shimming.
You're spot on Vander, I've been assessing myself (and had two other sports physiotherapists assess me) and have not found anything that I can attribute it to. One possibility is an extremely tight hip flexor on the right hand side but I've checked that and it's fine, perfectly symmetrical. Another more subtle possibility is that the hip flexor is tonically tight as I call it - in other words it's overactive and firing too much when cycling, but once relaxed off the bike it doesn't show the length difference. I really don't know - it's got me stumped!
I rode again this morning for about 50km with some rolling hills in there - felt very good. I had increased the shim stack to 12mm for this ride and everything felt fluent and happy, with the exception of a tiny bit of frontal hip (hip flexor or quad, couldn't tell) tightness which never got bad. I was climbing hard in a few sections to test it and felt very strong and powerful - actually breathing less heavily at the same pace, even though I've had 6 weeks off. Must be using both legs to climb now!
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