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Pain in my knees


Aug 26, 2011
So, I don't think my knees have ever been perfect, but recently the joints have been painful the day after longish rides, or rides where I'm really getting from A to B as fast as possible (i.e. leaving Shibuya at 4:15 when i needed to be in Ikebukuro by 4:00). In the past, I've done much longer rides, day after day (touring) and if anything has hurt the next day its the muscles and the perineum. Since coming to Tokyo its been knees. :eek:uch:

Only thing I can think that's different is that now I'm riding singlespeed, I used to ride a 9 speed. Is it possible that the two are related? Perhaps pedalling at a fast cadence with low resistance aggravating my knees?

Or is it more likely to be a set up/size problem (saddle too low or something?)

Bear in mind I'm only 21, so I wouldn't really expect joint problems, even if my knees aren't perfect.

If anyone can give me any help or advice, or has experience with this, I would really appreciate it.


Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
If you are pushing large torque and bike fitting position is incorrect then you are going to screw your knees up real quick.


Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
What James said, I would suspect fit since you mentioned high cadence light gearing, check you cleats are straight and get set up on the bike. Knee pain is a bit of a vague description, where in the knee and what kind of pain and for how long would be more helpful. What bike set up do you have and some measurements of yourself and bike settings would also help.


Oct 5, 2008
The only time I get pain in my knees is when the saddle is too low. Once back to the correct height I have no further issues.
Maybe check seat height as well as other adjustable items.
Also, if you have an injury go steady you don't want to make it worse.
Good luck


Aug 26, 2011
Sorry I took ages to get back to you, but I read the advice some time back and took it on board. Put the saddle up a bit, which surely helped, and I've been making a conscious effort not to try and 'shoot off the line' after every traffic light. Only problem is, when I stop at traffic lights (sometimes seems like every 10 metres, doesn't it?) feet are a long way off the ground, but its better than the knee pain. Still not 100%, but definitely better than it was.

Thanks again for the advice guys!


Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
Here is some crude and simple advise regarding knee pain:

1) Stretch before you ride and especially range of motion. Finish your stretch with an ITB massage / release.

2) Ride your first hour at low effort. Cadence between 80-90 and concentrate on just 'getting into' the bike. If your rides are typically less than an hour, at least spend the first 15min in the same way.

3) Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Joints (and your overall health) need it.

Regarding Knee Pain:
A. Pain in front? Raise your saddle slightly. But never so much to allow for hips to rock.
B. Pain in rear? Lower your saddle slightly. But never so much to allow for more than 30 degree of leg angle when at the bottom position.
C. Pain on the inside? Chances are you are riding 'heels in'. Adjust cleat so feet are parallel or ever so slightly 'heels out'. Reduce cleat tension so you have plenty of float.
D. C. Pain on the outside? Chances are you are riding 'heels out'. Adjust cleat so feet are parallel or ever so slightly 'heels in'. Reduce cleat tension so you have plenty of float.

It takes time to build up tolerance in the knee joint to lengthy rides and hard effort. If you just ride occasionally at hard effort, you WILL have knee pain. The best thing is to ride every day, even a short distance, then build up your knee stamina over 6-8 weeks of low effort riding.

Knee pain does not mean you've destroyed your knees or are going to. It just means you are experiencing some micro-trauma generally related to overuse or a chronic misalignment. Relax and focus on technique, stretching and small adjustments. Get your bike fitted by someone who does NOT claim to be a Knee Voodoo Doctor. Any Pro mechanic can do this right. The more fitters dick around with magic techniques and hidden secrets are just pulling your leg (literally). Bikes have been around for more than 150yrs - sitting people on them successfully is not that hard once you know the basics.

Practice pedaling smoothly and in a controlled and consistent fashion. Man, I see some wonky gyrations out there! Knees flopping in the breeze, knocking top tubes, cattywompus feet, o-hashi bashi legs, etc. Some riders I see have worse posture than the knock-kneed schoolgirls scraping their loafers across the grates. My knees hurt just watching them!

Recovery. If you ride hard and get knee pain that's pretty normal. Recover by staying off your feet, massage the area and even wearing a compression support for a day or so. If the pain is really bad, then try an OTC ibuprofen or aspirin. If that helps - great - then 99/100 all you have is exercise induced stress. If you typically get pain everytime you ride - but it's better the next day, then try icing your knee right after you ride. 10-15min is enough. This will slow down inflammation associated micro trauma. Then wear your compression supports and chill out.

If you continue to suffer from pain. Get your bike fitted first, then see a coach, not a doctor. Doctor is just looking from the POV of trauma - trying to see what's broken. Not WHY it's broken. Your body will heal itself - but it can't if you keep breaking it. If your injury has progressed beyond an acceptable recovery time period, THEN a Doctor might help. But I'd guess outside of severely damaged tendons (which don't heal so well), there's not much to be gained by chasing a white suit down the halls.
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