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Newbie; Knee Pain & Clipless Pedals(7 posts)

Newbie; Knee Pain & Clipless Pedalsmbologna
Apr 4, 2002 5:28 AM
Hi all:

Just started riding regularly a couple weeks ago. I'm riding about 80-100 miles per week right now, and have been having some pain in my right knee, just outside the kneecap (IT Band? I think), and just above it as well. At first, I thought it was my form or lack thereof, then maybe my setup on the bike. (I bought the bike 3 weeks ago, and am still working with the LBS to tweak the fit.)

Yesterday, I realized that it is much easier to release my left shoe from the pedals than the right one. Could this be the cause of the pain? I'm riding Look pedals (don't know the model, but they are blue and do not have the 'dial adjustment' on them). I'm using Sidi Genius shoes and the red cleats. Is there a way I can make an adjustment to the right one? If so, do I adjust something on the pedal or move the cleat? Could this help?

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated! I really like my new sport (I'm originally a marathon runner), but struggling a little with all this new stuff!


Houston, TX
re: Newbie; Knee Pain & Clipless Pedalsmr_spin
Apr 4, 2002 7:20 AM
Look pedals should have a tension adjustment. If you don't have the 'dial' version, it will be a hole that you stick an allen wrench into. There should also be an indicator of some sort that shows what the tension is.

That said, the release tension isn't the cause of your knee problems. All the release tension setting does is control how easily the pedal releases your foot.

What you should investigate is your cleat position, which is unrelated to pedal tension.
re: Newbie; Knee Pain & Clipless Pedalsmbologna
Apr 4, 2002 8:58 AM
Thanks for the info! By cleat position, do you mean adjusting where the cleat actually is positioned on the shoe?
re: Newbie; Knee Pain & Clipless Pedalsmr_spin
Apr 4, 2002 11:23 AM
You can adjust cleats forward, backward, left, right, as well as where they "point" (not sure what that term is--radially? directionally?).

In short, yes I mean where the cleat is positioned on the shoe. I'd recommend getting your LBS to help you, since they have the tools and/or experience to do it right or at least come very close. You may end up making adjustments over time.

Once you get it right, use spray paint, permanent markers, knives, screwdrivers, whatever to mark or scratch the exact position of the cleat, on all sides. That way, when you replace the cleat, you'll get it right every time.
re: Newbie; Knee Pain & Clipless PedalsBryanJL
Apr 4, 2002 8:44 AM
I've had IT band irritation in the past (three times, actually--twice on right knee, once on left). In all three cases, the primary cause was running and/or cycling too much, too soon.

When I read your description, the first statement raised a warning flag for me:

"Just started riding regularly a couple weeks ago. I'm riding about 80-100 miles per week right now"

Putting that statement together with your recent entry into cycling leads me to believe that you're experiencing an overuse injury rather than a purely equipment or position-based injury.

While position may be a factor, and one worth checking out, I think it is more important to examine what kind of miles you've been doing up to now.

Going from riding a little bit to riding more frequently, and 80-100/wk is a significant increase in volume, and likely intensity.

When I experienced IT band pain, rest, ice, and gentle stretching were the only things that really worked.

By rest, I mean no sprints, and only low intensity riding. That helped me prevent sudden, stressful use of the muscles.

It's amazing what one week of rest can do--what's more amazing is the amount of self-discipline required to really rest. I see a lot of people try and keep going, continuing to increase intensity and volume, thinking they can and should go harder and farther...then, I don't see them for a's better to be balanced.

Lastly, one of the potential challenges you may experience (or may be experiencing) is due to your background as a marathon runner. You're probably in pretty good shape, or will be able to regain it quickly, at least from a cardiovascular standpoint. But remember your muscles will need time to adapt--and that's where injuries can occur.

Remember that in a workout, quality is always more important than quantity--even for long, easy miles (after all, if you do a bad job on your long easy miles it's still a bad job). So, remember quality--you can get great workouts in small amounts of time--there's lots of suggestions for workout programs/routines out there (in fact, that might be a great idea for a post) that effectively combine shorter, more intense days with longer, easier days. No doubt this soudns familiar to you from marathon training.

ANyway, I would suggest rest and gentle stretching.

But one last question--how will you know when you're healed? For me, I noted when I started to feel better and kept taking it easy for another few weeks. That way I wasn't stressing a newly recovered injury.

Once everything's alright, some strength training may help. ANother thing to consider is joining a local riding club and working with a coach (riding clubs are a great resource for coaches and info).

I hope this helps.

Good luck,

One possibilityDCP
Apr 4, 2002 9:58 AM
When I first started road riding and went longer distances than my MTB rides, I experienced pain on the side of one knee. I found enough on IT Band to think it was not the problem. Then I found a quote from a book, Bicycling Medicine by Arnie Baker, on lateral cleat positioning. I do not remember what the advice was, but I do remember that changing my lateral cleat position made my problem go away. You might see if you can find that book. Amazon has it.
re: Newbie; Knee Pain & Clipless PedalsGreenFan
Apr 4, 2002 5:37 PM
About 2 years ago when I got back into cycling I had a similar experience, I switched from toe clips to clipless and soon found that I could not kneel because the pain was so severe. At first I thought that the pedals, cleats, or their relative positions were to blame but I was completely wrong. As it turned out, the reason was my saddle height, my saddle was too low. I never had any knee problems with riding before because I didn't ride regularly as far as I was at that time...give it a shot. The only other time I've had any discomfort was when one of my cleats was twisted from it's line along the sole, which caused my foot to be out of alignment with my pedal stroke...whatever the cause, figure it out and get back to enjoying the ride...summer is almost here =)