Only 3mm? Seat Posts and Knee Issues
I have been chasing lateral knee pain around for over a year. I have messed with fit, cleat positioning, stretching, RICE and the like. I had recovered for a while and put in a couple races, performed well... and then it flared up again during a longish ride.
My riding partner thought I was pointing my toes down a little in compensation for over extending. I didn't feel my hips were rocking, but I moved my cleats rearward to take some pressure off my calves, which seem to cramp before knee pain comes on.
For years I have had no trouble with my seat post height, but I decided to lower my post 3mm to see if it would reduce pain issues.
As I rode a light tester ride following ANOTHER week off the bike, I started to feel a little more soreness creeping into the knee area.
Luckily, the ride was ending. The pain was alleviated by pedaling on my toe.
Now, I am leaning toward this being a matter of tightness in the hips/lower back, and remedied through stretching and strength training. It could be simply overused... again.
Should I return my seat to the former position, or leave it low for now? It was only 3mm, but it felt low and I seemed to have less power. Maybe I am just out of shape.
This is really a maddening process that has cost me far too much time off the bike.
Any other ideas?
AKA: Sheila Muirenn
People change over time. Ger a real fitting and get this fixed. You obviously need one.
3mm can be huge for some people and meaningless for others.
If there is one that I've learned over time when it comes to riding ... some people can't tell the difference between a 3 cm+ change in any area of their bike and others develop issues with 1 mm changes. Everybody is different.
Bike fit isn't a static issue ... our fit changes during the year, over years and is never the same. As you get in shape during the season, chances are you are a little more flexible near the end than the start. You also likely have less stomach and more fitness ... so you may fit better with a little more aggressive position ... in the spring it's the opposite.
Also remember the body is not symmetrical ... You could have an imbalance from one side to another that causes fit issues. It took me a while to figure out one of my legs was significantly shorter than the other ... I now ride with 1 cm or so of spacers under my left cleat to balance out my leg lengths ... this helped eliminate a lot of unusual pain issues. You might check with a fitter that's also a PT so they can see if you have specific body imbalances that need to be addressed with your fit.
I make small adjustments throughout the season with seat height and saddle setback. As I get more flexible I raise my saddle just a bit, as I get into more climbing I may move it back just a bit ... it depends on what I'm feeling on the bike. Riders like Cavendish have been known to move their saddle up or down 1 cm depending on how they feel that morning.
If you are really sensitive to bike fit and the 3 mm is causing pain, move it back. Then work on other adjustments ... one at a time so you can see what works and what doesn't. When you make multiple changes you don't know what it was that helped or hurt and you may miss things a long the way with fit, performance and pain reduction.
- 2012 CAAD10 (4)
- 2013 Jamis Nova Race (winter training bike)
- 1998 Marin East Peak - MTB
- 2012 Argon 18 E-118
I have had a detailed fit done... I think I'll go back up to a 1mm of regular height and work on the stretching. I am afraid of chasing this around too much and mucking up everything even worse. Shoes may be an issue as well. It is like working on a Volkswagen. Start with the cheapest fix and work your way up.
i dont trust fittings because different ones will give different fittings: they vary. I started with the Lemond method based on the inseam and then have adapted it based on feel, and pedal and shoe stack height.
start with your saddle about an inch lower and see how fast you can spin. Keep raising it till you can't spin as fast and then you've gone a bit too high.
Also I'm feeling people, including myself, are probably better suited for a more forward positioned saddle. It more so simulates stepping motion as well as a bunch of other advantages I find and when I'm really trying I always end up sitting on the tip of the saddle anyway.
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