Over use injury or setup issue?
Im new to the sport. Been riding since June. 2-3 times a week in pretty difficult terrain.
My question is: how do you know if aches and pains are caused by over-use? What's the difference in a pain caused by setup?
Being new I feel like I'm constantly chasing down the latest cause of pain. Three weeks ago I went on a very long ride and ended up injuring my IT bands.
I've done lots of reading on positioning and use the online caluculators. I'm within the ranges they recommend. So I guess it's all just small tweaks until I get it right. But will it always been like that? Tweaking position slightly depending on what hurts at the moment?
You're only 2-3 months in to the sport, and going at it pretty hard if your terrain is as difficult as you say (where may I ask?).
I started riding last August and I've been tweaking bike setup since day one. At first it was wrist/forearm pain, which I attributed to too much weight on the handlebars, which were flat or riser with minimal sweep. I then switched to an alt-bar, the Mary flavor, and that alleviated wrist pain for a quite awhile. Over time I became more confident and the alt-bars seemed to hold me back. I could not corner properly with them and I crashed a bit. I went back to riser bars, wide but not super epic downhill wide. I no longer have the wrist or forearm pain, and over time my cockpit setup gets lower for better cornering and climbing.
Now the pain moves to the other end. The legs! It is often said that it never gets easier, you just get faster. It's the truth. A year ago I could barely manage 5mph average and I would need a break every mile or so. Now I can do about 9mph and take a break every 3 miles. My legs are still just as sore as they've ever been.
The moral of my long boring post is that as long as you are always trying to go faster, you will be sore. Just make sure you give your body time to recover or else you'll be miserable, and with MTBing it can be dangerous as well. Riding in pain and fatigue can lead to stupid decisions and bad wrecks.
Also, you can skip all guessing and just go get a professional fit. I have yet to do that but I am tempted. If you have any pain in your upper/mid/lower back you should stop riding immediately and check your fit. Do not mess up your back!
I'm in Michigan. Been riding Highland Rec. I've been told it's one of the more challenging single tracks in the area. We were consistently doing 12 miles of single track in around 2 hours non stop. We bumped up to 17 miles ... then did a 25 mile and that's when my IT band issue surfaced.
I had been having lower back pain a lot. But I adjusted the seat position and did lots of hamstring stretches. It was weird that during the longest ride, my back was fine ... but 3/4 thru my IT bands started hurting (didn't know it was my IT bands at the time). I finished out the ride and was sore for a couple days. Adjusted saddle for side knee pain, did some short rides. A little sore but ok.
I then went to the U.P. to race the Ore to Shore. 28 miles. I was in total pain 2 miles in. I finished the ride in 2 hours. But couldnt get out of the car after the ride home. I knew I was screwed.
After research I found out about the IT bands and the 4 week recovery. I've been icing the knee, stretching ... tried some short rides on paved paths and can't last very long before pain.
I have no problem being sore, I feel like I've made really good progress in 4 months. But now not even being able to ride after riding 2 to 3 times a week just sucks.
The frustrating thing is that it seems that whatever I adjusted for my back seems to have screwed up my knees. Or was it simply the increased distance? It's all so confusing!
I'm going to have to ask around about where to go locally for a fitting. It does seem that positioning will change once you get stronger.