Knees hurt after riding up hills (flats seem fine)

dubcat
dubcat Posts: 737
edited October 2012 in Road general
I have noticed on my last couple of rides that when I ride up a steep hill the insides of my knees hurt. They get sore. I don't think it is a bike fit issue as I can ride for ages on the flat and don't seem to suffer with any issues.

Anyone got any ideas?
2010 Specialized Rockhopper
2012 Bianchi Infinito

Comments

  • trekvet
    trekvet Posts: 223
    Could be medial collateral ligaments (MCL); holds upper and lower leg together on inside. I inflamed one of mine running on a narrow rutted track, changing sides; perhaps you were climbing out of the saddle, same thing? They can take a few weeks to recover. I massaged mine in the bath. See http://www.thestretchinghandbook.com/archives/medial-collateral-ligament.php, amongst others. See also http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/kneeinjuries/a/mclinjury.htm with reference to the "Grades" of injury.
    The Wife complained for months about the empty pot of bike oil on the hall stand; so I replaced it with a full one.
  • TakeTurns
    TakeTurns Posts: 1,075
    Maybe you've been over-doing it recently?

    I'd been training as I usually do and started to get a slight pain like yourself for a few days running. It was terribly painful when I'd done a 120m ride, especially on the hills. I took 2 days off and the pain seemed to have eased. It's been almost 2 weeks now and I feel that it's almost gone.
  • dubcat
    dubcat Posts: 737
    Yes the pain reduces after a rest. Perhaps my connective tissues need to adapt.

    Do they adapt? Anything I can do to strengthen them?
    2010 Specialized Rockhopper
    2012 Bianchi Infinito
  • BikeSwan
    BikeSwan Posts: 260
    I dont know your riding style, but perhaps try a higher cadence when going up steep hills (think 80-100 rpm). If your pushing too hard with your legs (lower cadence) your knees are being put under more stress. You probably already now that, but it's just a thought!

    And of course, time heals all wounds.
  • smidsy
    smidsy Posts: 5,273
    +1 to Bikeswan. Probable that you are grinding too large a gear up the hills. Does your pedal speed drop off?

    Try to match the same higher cadence that you likely use on the flats by choosing an easier gear on the hills which allows you to keep the pedal speed up.

    Also do you stay seated or stand? Seated will be more efficient (providing you have good saddle position) and puts less stress through your knee joints (as they are not supporting your body weight).
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • dubcat
    dubcat Posts: 737
    I think bikeswan hit the nail on the head thinking about it. I generally ride with as high a cadence as i can reasonably manage. I am pretty sure my cadence on the flats is higher than most of the others I ride with. However, on these particular hills I was in bottom gear and pedaling very slowly. I am not as smooth as I would like to be as the bike was REALLY slowing down between strokes. I try to be as smooth as possible but i guess my legs are just not strong enough.

    I suppose the only things that will help are to lose weight (definitely need to drop at LEAST another stone) and get some stronger legs (anyone know where I can buy those?).

    I stay seated at all times as it feels like riding that way is more sustainable than when standing up.
    2010 Specialized Rockhopper
    2012 Bianchi Infinito
  • If you're climbing mostly seated then knee pain may be a symptom of low saddle height. It's quite a common issue to have the saddle too low and even a few millimetres can make a big difference.

    When I was trying to sort my saddle position I was lifting it 1-2mm each ride. It didn't really seem to make much difference each time except to say seated climbing felt a bit more powerful, until I went a fraction too high when all of a sudden my legs felt too stretched at the bottom of the stroke. So the principle I used was to find the maximum possible saddle height without feeling stretched. Your Mileage May Vary, of course, and I'm no bike fitter ;)
  • dubcat
    dubcat Posts: 737
    Ok thanks for that. I had a think about it and given that I am in my lowest gear I am going to make the assumption that my weight/fitness are the primary issue here. If once I am lighter and stronger I still have issues I will start to play with seat height. I don't want to touch it right now because I generally don't have any issues on the flats or going up hills where I do not need to resort to the granny ring.
    2010 Specialized Rockhopper
    2012 Bianchi Infinito
  • I would double check that your saddle is high enough and your cleats are positioned correctly. I had some knee trouble that was only flaring up when I really pushed on the climbs which turned out to be a saddle being positioned far too low.

    I used the information here to get the position correct.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/articl ... ght-14608/
  • BikeSwan
    BikeSwan Posts: 260
    Of course, it could be a combination of all the things we've mentioned. If you've never had a bike fit, you could go for one and see what they say?
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    Getting your bum a bit further forward can help, particularly if you are doing both MTB and road cycling. The temptation on the road bike is have the seat too far back.
  • TakeTurns
    TakeTurns Posts: 1,075
    If you're struggling to pedal smoothly up hills and find that you need an extra gear, I'd recommend changing your cassette in order to give you a larger gear ratio. Unless you're riding a compact chainset, you should go for a 11 - 28 teeth cassette. Don't worry, this will not compromise max speed. It'll ease the stress you'll be putting on your knees on the up hills.