April 12, 2005

    I am concerned about my knees. I know that having a properly sized bike with an appropriately adjusted seat will prevent damage. And though I was never sized for my (used) bike, I am comfortable on it and love to ride it, but I am looking for more advice.
    Now that I’m warming up for spring and summer, I bike to work two or three times a week and for fun and errands on the weekends. Occasionally, knee stiffness after a ride can last for one to two days.
    I’ve got a family history of trouble with this joint, as well as an old hyperextension that sometimes manifests itself as a twinge or feeling of looseness while walking or riding. Sometimes the sensation while pedaling is that I am not moving my legs strictly parallel to the bike frame; rather, it can feel like when my leg is up, my knee pulls slightly towards the inside, frame side, and when my leg is at the bottom of a pedal stroke, the leg is straight again.
    Can you recommend any specific stretches or cycling practices to keep my knees bending freely and smoothly as long as possible? Thank you!

Robin K.

    I’ve two ideas—one about adjusting your bike and another about adjusting your body. Let’s start with the bike.
    People have written many, many articles, both in print and on-line, about how to measure bikes and bods to get the proper fit between the two. Rather than excerpt all that, I’ll suggest one simple thing: Try moving your bike’s seat back about half an inch, then ride for a while and see if it makes a difference. If not try moving it forward the same amount. Learn more about how to do this in my book, Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips.
    You can keep experimenting with different forward and back seat positions and see what happens. (Note that the seat’s most comfortable position might change if you start riding a bunch more.)
    All that assumes that you have the proper seat height: Sitting on your bike with one foot on a pedal at the 6 o’clock position, that foot’s leg should have only a slight bend. (Also check that you have the balls of your feet, not the toes, soles, or heels, on the middle of the pedals.)
    Next, your bod: Physical therapists often tell us that, to address weakness in a joint’s movement in a particular direction, strengthen the muscles that support movement in a different (often perpendicular) direction. So exercises in which you move the lower leg side to side might help. But they might not, and Mr Bike resists the urge to play Dr Bike—so if the problem persists please consult a medical professional.

Mr Bike

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