Went out for a ride by myself this afternoon. Managed 21.24 miles in 1:24:31, averaging 15.0 mph overall. A good ride but my knees hurt a bit – probably beacause I’ve not been doing my stretches while I’ve not been cycling to work – must keep that up even when I’m not doing a daily ride.
The stretches are mostly for my “Glutes” (mostly my gluteus medius) but also for a thing called the IT band (nothing to do with computers) that runs from the bum down the side of the leg. Forgive my amateur physiology. The glutes pull the band to stop your legs collapsing underneath you. If the glutes or the band are tight it seems to rub against the knee causing a dull pain.
It also makes me flat footed (called over-pronation). Just another of my ongoing health things that I keep at bay by doing certain things.
I believe that there are all sorts of other mechanics going on, such as:
- Is the saddle high enough = are my legs bending too much?
- Have I got the right balance of cadence (rate of pedalling) and pressure?
- Are my feet in the right place on the pedals? If the feet are twisted that can put additional strain on the knees.
- Am I pushing with the right part of the foot? I think you need to try to spread load across the foot. As I’m flat footed I tend to push with the ball of my foot so I need to make a conscious effort to put some pressure on the outside of my foot. This also balances the quadriceps in the legs – you use the inner quads to push with the ball of your foot and the outer quads to push with the outside.
- Am I pushing with both legs? The pain is usually in my right leg. Of course, I’m right footed so I lead and do more pedalling with my right leg. I need to balance that too.
- Are my knees in the right place? I’ve read that, ideally, the knee should sit directly above the foot and press straight downwards, rather than having your knees sticking out or squeezing in towards the bike.
As I say, all stuff I’ve read but it all makes sense and seems to work – if I do the stretches and try to balance everything and pedal right I can ride strong for ages.
And you thought cycling was simple!?