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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so you all know I have arthritis in both my knees. Running has been the primary trigger for issues, however, my first outdoor ride of the season a couple of weeks ago caused some bad knee pain for a couple of days. Riding in the past has never caused me any issues.


I understand that hills are hard on the knees but I live in NH so there is no avoiding hills. I did go out Friday for a 15 mile ride and yesterday my standard 22 mile ride. I am a masher, love to ride in a hard gear and most comfortable at a slower cadence (high 60's 70's).


I thought it might be a good idea to try to ride in a lighter gear higher cadence. I went out yesterday and my goal was to be 85. If I couldn't keep it at close to 85, I would drop down. I did this and it was an effort as I am not used to that. My pace for my ride was 14.5!!!! It is usually 15.5+ on that route as it is very hilly.


So, please chime in. Is it a good idea to work on being able to spin at a faster cadence? If so, I assume there will be a learning curve and it would be expected that my overall pace would slow but I should expect to get faster again?


Do you have any other tips on riding without causing knee issues? If so, please spill!


I have to figure out how to still ride, it's my favorite thing to do this time of year!


ps.........knees were ok this morning!
 

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Julie, I am sure more experienced cyclists will chime in. I do believe you are doing it right with the goal of 85rpm+ and your body will get used to it and you will get faster. I know you are doing lots of overall strength workouts. What about strengthening quads & hammy? I have read when runners have knee issues the main contributors are the muscles stabilizing the knees, i.e. quads and hammy and of course hips. I would think the same would true for cyclists, though your issue stems from arthritis.
Are you taking glucosamine/chondroitin/msm? I have been for several years. I don't know if they are helping or not, but I haven't experienced joint issues. I think Thor takes too?

I have just started riding my mtb, and I did notice some knee discomfort, I think, mainly due to pushing the harder gears on trails. I have been trying to spin lighter gears until I gain some strength.

You don't want your knees to get so mad at you and take a joy of riding away from you. It's ok to slow down and spin away.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Julie, I am sure more experienced cyclists will chime in. I do believe you are doing it right with the goal of 85rpm+ and your body will get used to it and you will get faster. I know you are doing lots of overall strength workouts. What about strengthening quads & hammy? I have read when runners have knee issues the main contributors are the muscles stabilizing the knees, i.e. quads and hammy and of course hips. I would think the same would true for cyclists, though your issue stems from arthritis.
Are you taking glucosamine/chondroitin/msm? I have been for several years. I don't know if they are helping or not, but I haven't experienced joint issues. I think Thor takes too?

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I have the strength training down. Been following religiously 3X week plan since Nov. I am doing structured DVD's, Tony Horton, Chalene Johnson, Autumn, so that is great. I do take glucosomine but frankly I don't know what it's done. I am going to stick to the spinning faster and see how that goes. :)
 

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While I wouldn't consider myself super experienced, I will chime in. :) the only time I allow my cadence to drop below 80 is climbing hills...I will hover in the mid-70s if I can and adjust my gearing to allow for that as the hills get steeper. And yes, an overall higher cadence is better all around as your legs will recover faster. less stress on your knees (and back) AND it mimics the cadence you should have for running. Bonus! lol
 

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I will also give my un-expert opinion :)

- First on the cadence thing, you can't just flip this on if you have been traditionally a low cadence rider. But this can be learned like most things, in fact I would suggest some even higher cadence intervals (talking over 100rpm maybe even 120rpm) on short intervals like 30s on, then 30s off, but don't let it drop below 80 on the off. Good to warm up and finish with these. Like strides in running. It might actually be a better idea to do this type of thing on a trainer, especially in your hilly conditions which prevents focused work on cadence. I'm sure you could probably even find trainer workouts that focus on cadence maybe through google search.

- On the knee pain I don't really know, but I think one thing you should investigate is a bike fit. Just because you were fit once, doesn't mean that continues to work, small adjustments may improve knee health. I know when I'm too low, I experience knee pain, so I've gone up and further back (raise seat up and back). But best to talk to a professional fitter, might be worth while if you can find a good one.

Good luck!
 

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Get rid of your computer, gps, whatever for a month. Dont worry about your speed, figure out how to be easier on your knees by riding at a higher cadence. On that ride where you 'only' averaged 14.5, how did it feel on the knees? Because that is the only thing that matters.

You could do what I do and simply leave the bike in the garage.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
JKaiser: Love outdoor riding, so leaving the bike in the garage is not an option. I think I am going to get re-fit just to see if there are any changes that could be made.
 

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Julie - it might be worth going to Fitwerx in Peabody, MA for a fitting. They are quite good there with helping work through issues like this. One of their guys really helped me alleviate the hotspot pain I was having on my left foot last year.
 

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Again - also consider re-positioning cleats or switching pedal systems to something with more float (not sure what peddles you use). Speedplay x1/x2 may be the way to go if you don't use them already.
 

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Easiest way to get the cadence thing down is to gear down whenever you find a comfortable gear, if you will. So where you normally ride in one gear on certain terrain, and say that is comfortable, gear down to one easier and stay there. After a few rides you will have a slightly higher cadence. The higher cadence works because you are then using more your cardiovascular strength to push you along and generate power over using sheer leg strength, which you use more of when you push a bigger, or harder, gear, which results is lower cadence.

Reg mentions something that really might be worth your while, and that is to make sure you are fit for your bike. There's a website out there somewhere that talks about various pain points on the bike and how to adjust the bike or cleats to best rid them and take stress off that area. And knee pain is featured prominent because, well, it's among the most common. With JRoden was here. He'd have your answer and the link.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Easiest way to get the cadence thing down is to gear down whenever you find a comfortable gear, if you will. So where you normally ride in one gear on certain terrain, and say that is comfortable, gear down to one easier and stay there. After a few rides you will have a slightly higher cadence. The higher cadence works because you are then using more your cardiovascular strength to push you along and generate power over using sheer leg strength, which you use more of when you push a bigger, or harder, gear, which results is lower cadence.

Reg mentions something that really might be worth your while, and that is to make sure you are fit for your bike. There's a website out there somewhere that talks about various pain points on the bike and how to adjust the bike or cleats to best rid them and take stress off that area. And knee pain is featured prominent because, well, it's among the most common. With JRoden was here. He'd have your answer and the link.


Thanks on the gear tip, I will try that.


I have an appointment for a fitting next week too!
 

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If you're willing to ride on the trainer, Trainer Road has some great workouts focused on raising cadence. I'm a masher, and I've found that doing short, focused work with a much higher cadence has really helped me get my overall "comfortable" cadence up.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
Update: Got my bike fitted at my bike shop Goodale's. He moved the seat down and back a tad, adjusted the handle bars and moved the cleats. I've riden 4X aiming at 85 cadence. First time I was really slow. Each ride getting faster and more used to the feeling of spinning faster. Ridden 2X with new bike fit (22 miles on Sunday and 22 miles Monday). Happy to report that I had no knee issues and am pretty much back at my old speed with the faster spinning.


I am thinking this faster spinning thing could actually make me faster ;)
 

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Sweet! Next up, 90 rpm cadence. ;)
 
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