Knees and clipped pedals

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Anonymous's picture


I had a question about knees and clipped pedals. Last year, I got a LeMond steel road bike, and I love it. However, I have been noticing that it affects my knees a lot. They seem to bother me after biking. Last summer I had a large amount of swelling in my right knee. I thought it was because of yoga, but the nagsome pains in my knees after biking relatively short distances have made me worry that there is something about biking with my knew bike (maybe something with the pulling up of clipped pedals) that aggrevates the knee. I thought people on this board might have some hints. What I have heard so far:
- a lot of stretching beforehand.
- using a lower gear so the pressure isn't all on the knees.

Any other hints?


Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
speedplay pedals

i switched over to speedplay years ago. haven't had knee problems since. they offer a lot of free movement and are easy to get in/out of. walking is a little awkward but with covers on the cleats it's no harder than walking with look cleats/covers.

Anonymous's picture
viviane tubiana (not verified)
Speedplays - definitely

I also ride with speedplay road pedals (x) and love the float, even though I'm hoofing off the bike.
If shoes/walking is an issue, you may consider getting the frogs (also made by speedplay) and mountain bike shoe combo. Lots of roadbikes out there with frogs.

Anonymous's picture
ted (not verified)

Is your seat height correct?
Also, are your cleats correctly placed on the shoes?

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)

"There are many potential causes of knee pain; I wouldn't automatically blame the pedals.

What is your normal cadence? Pushing big gears at a low cadence can strain your knees, particularly if you don't have a good mileage base.

Where is the knee pain? Pain in the front of the knee could indicate that your saddle is too low.

Make sure that your cleats are adjusted so that the ball of your foot is directly over the pedal axis, and that your foot is at a natural-feeling angle (usually, but not always pointing straight ahead).

Cranks that are too long can also aggravate knee problems due to excessive flexure.

""...have made me worry that there is something about biking with my knew bike (maybe something with the pulling up of clipped pedals) that aggravates the knee.""

You really shouldn't be ""pulling up"" on the pedals. The normal technique is to push forward over the top of the pedal stroke, then downward, and then pull back at the bottom of the stroke.


Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)

"actually, you turn the crank like you sharpen a pencil...push over the top, pull back at the bottom, pull up at the back and push over the top again. you might not exert much force when you pull up, but it helps the other leg on it's downward push.

spend a few months on a set of rollers and you'll see how pulling up smooths your stroke. you get used to it pretty quickly.


chainwheel wrote...

You really shouldn't be ""pulling up"" on the pedals. The normal technique is to push forward over the top of the pedal stroke, then downward, and then pull back at the bottom of the stroke.

Anonymous's picture
Gabe (not verified)

Yes, I think I was pushing low gears for a while, but I have tried to lessen that. Most of the time I am in the middle gear range (and mostly these days biking on flats... haven't been doing too many hills) Though it is possible, since I haven't been too in shape that I have been muscling the pedals with my knees instead of relying on cadiovascular strength.


Anonymous's picture
MP (not verified)
Craig Upton

"do a search in the past 60 days on this board for ""craig upton."" i think he is charging $200 now. i've been battling knee tendinitis for the past two seasons, even with speedplays and a ""professional"" fit from a shop in bklyn. i'll go see upton for a fit after i finich phys. therapy. good luck."

Anonymous's picture
Tom Laskey (not verified)
If it doesn't fit...

Forget about the gears. The idea of stretching when your muscles are cold - as in before a ride - has been pretty soundly discredited. There might be a problem with your pedals but that doesn't necessarily mean you need Speedplays, if your pedals are set up correctly, you shouldn't have any knee pain no matter what kind you have.

My first guess as to your problem based on what you report is that there is a problem with your bike fit. This could mean you just need some adjustments to your saddle height and/or placement or it could mean you have the wrong size frame.

I would suggest going to the shop that sold you your bike and telling them about your knee pain. If you are not satisfied with their response, try a professional bike fitter and get their opinion.

Anonymous's picture
Brad Ensminger (not verified)
I support Tom's bike-fit theory

Since the beginning of the B-SIG I have been suffering with painful knees, especially when going up hills. I thought the pain might be due to incorrect gearing, or standing at the wrong time, or my lack of fitness.

Just last week I had a bike-fitting with Craig Upton. Among other things Craig raised my seat about an inch and a half and suggested I use the orthotics my podiatrist made for me.

Miraculously, on Saturday's B-SIG 'Deep Westchester' ride, the sharp knee pain was gone. My SIG leader was so impressed with my climbs he jokingly asked if I had been blood-doping the week before.

I think it was the bike-fit.

You might consider this as an option.

Anonymous's picture
Gabe (not verified)
Wow, thanks for all the responses

Where can I get in contact with Craig Upton to get advice on the bike fit? I actually bought my bike and had some problems with my neck. He changed the handle bar grip and things were sort of OK.

The knee pain is on the front of the knee. I would say it is on the knee cap exactly, in fact. How can I get in contact with Craig Upton or someone to give me good fitting advice? Certainly, I hope the frame is not too small, since LeMonds aren't exactly cheap. ;) However, when I bought the bike I was surprised about how small the frame was.

Thanks for the advice.

Anonymous's picture
Brad Ensminger (not verified)
Craig Upton's email address

Craig's email address is listed below. He can give you an educated assessment of your bike and your positioning on it.

[email protected]

Good luck with this.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)

>""I actually bought my bike and had some problems with my neck. He changed the handle bar grip and things were sort of OK.""

-Do a search on Knee Pain, Neck Pain and Bike fit on this MB. There’s some good stuff in the past 3 months. Do you mean handle bar tape or do you have a straight Bar?

-If you’re new to the sport, build up the miles gradually. Pain in front of knee usually means seat might be too low. Yoga should not hurt anything if you’re moving mindfully with your breath.

>""a lot of stretching beforehand.""

You could do some light stretches to loosen and open up the joints before a ride. Try not to do major yoga sessions up to 48 hrs before your weekend ride/event/races as you put micro tears in your muscle fibers when you stretch (hence soreness). Stretch after each ride when your muscles are warm and regain flexibility after many hours of limited movement.


Anonymous's picture
Rick Braun (not verified)

"I was just kidding about the ""blood-doping"" of course. Brad, I think that your significant improvement on the hills has been from a combination of the better bike fit, all the riding you've been doing, and improving your cycling techniques. You have sure turned into an ""animal"" on those hills. Hope that your knee is much better now!

Having suffered from serious knee pain myself, and, after several bouts of physical therapy, I would agree with the various suggestions, but strongly emphasize that you should be spinning at between about 90-100 r.p.m.'s as often as you can. I used to push harder gears for what I thought was more exercise and leg strengthening, and the main beneficiaries were my orthos and physical therapists"

Anonymous's picture
Happy Freedman (not verified)
Knee Pain

Knee pain

This has been a problem for cyclists since the invention of the pedal. There are as many solutions to knee pain as there are causes. Here are just a few.

1. Out of shape using muscles that have not been used in years?
Off the bike conditioning, learning to spin, Ice when done. Anti-inflammatories may also help.

2. Violating the 60 degree rule?
Wear tights, legwarmers, or knee warmers on colder days, or cool mornings.

3 Sneakers or other soft soled shoes?
Wear cycling shoes. Stiff soled shoes help reduce lateral and medial knee movement.

4 Cleats?
Check placement, wear, are all the screws in place?

5 New shoes?
Shoes vary in design from model to model, and brand to brand. It could be the cant (lateral angle)or curve of the shell.

6 Shoe too tight?
Over tightening shoes will collapse the arch of the foot and may cause the foot to rotate excessively.

7 Talonavicular sagging or ligamentis lax foot type?
Unstable foot type's floating pedals may actually make knee pain worse. Solution- stabilize foot with orthotic then refit the bicycle.

8 New saddle?
A new saddle may change your bike fit. You may need to refit your bike.

9 New Bike?
Could be bike fit or a stiffer frame. A common complaint when switching from steel to aluminum. May need to refit bike.

These are just a few possibilities - there are many more. If the problem persists contact your doctor.


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