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  1. #1
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    SS joint injuries and pain? Facts and stories please...

    Have heard there can be a lot of longer term joint and muscle damage done by SS'ing. Is there any facts to prove this or do some have personal testimony?

    I had painful achilles tendanitis from running and eventually took up cycling for it's low impact. Now I SS and don't have any pain currently but I would preferably not like any injuries in the future either and am beginning to wonder if I may be doing myself long term damage SS'ing. I ride big hills in my area FWIW.

    As much as I love SS I would much prefer to be riding any sort of bike till the day I die...

  2. #2
    a.k.a Slacker
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    Where did you hear this? I tend to discount anonymous comments like that unless it comes from a medical doctor or someone who has some expertise in the subject matter.

    Now certainly you can do damage when ever you over exert yourself when it comes to anything.

  3. #3
    808+909 = Party Good Time
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    Not that I believe 99% stuff on the internet but there are references to 'mashing' being hard on joints and muscles and wastes energy very quickly and spinning too fast can also be very in efficient energy wise though I'm sure it would not damage things as much.

    Surely cranking up hills in a tough gear can't be good long term for knee joints but I'm not sure? And if you are going to switch to an easier gear that means you can sit down, would you be better getting gears?

  4. #4
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    oh man, walking is so dangerous... every your step is impact on your knee and even your brain... everybody who walks will die eventually

    seriously I believe mashing is not as bad as walking

  5. #5
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    According to my PT friends, the best way to protect a joint is to strengthen the muscles around it......ss does just that.
    As long as you're not habitually getting overuse injuries from it it's perfectly healthy.

  6. #6
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    There have been a couple of times i have pushed hard enough to cause a twinge in the knee, but i really should have walked for 10 steps instead of riding it. Other than that....no issues at all.

    If it hurts the joint, then stop or modify. I am careful not to sit and push too hard, but standing and grinding it out has not been anything but good for my overall strength and fitness. Makes ya tough.
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  7. #7
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    I had more random knee pain before I moved to SS. Once I got used to SS, standing to pedal became a very natural first instinct, which made me realize my knees can handle force better when I am vertical than when I am seated and my knees are bent and out in front of my body (top of the power stroke). Of course this is easily solved through using a lower gear and higher cadence; but I like hard gears and straight up mashing

  8. #8
    808+909 = Party Good Time
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    just wanted to add have ridden SS for ages now and enjoy mashing myself with no pain so I agree with all the sentiments... more just wanted to make sure it was ok longterm. Keep the info coming, tops.

  9. #9
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    riding, SS in particular, has pretty much resurrected my knees over the years.

    but, i blew my lower back out (severe sciatica--herniated disc causing nerve damage) a few years ago. can't be sure that riding SS and fixed really hard did this, but i'm guessing it at least contributed. never had back problems before. i've more or less given up riding fixed off road because i can feel back pain coming on during long downhills. and, i try and keep a better posture on my bike while SS climbing.

  10. #10
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    I go to chiropractic school right now and these people are right. Improving musculature around a joint is very healthy for the joint in the long run. Quadriceps strength has been shown to improve hip and knee pain.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum

    These are just 3 of the many published medical articles on the very thing.

  11. #11
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    OK, I will go against the grain. Unless I REALLY overdo it in the spring, my knees never hurt when I ride a geared bike. But even in mid-season when I have some decent miles in, A long SS ride can make my knees hurt a little.

    While I agree that strengthening muscles helps joint pain, activity wears joints down, plain and simple. I have a master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics, so I have also studied the muscle and skeletal system a bit. Putting high loads on joints wears them down quicker. People that are overweight tend to have a lot more knee problems because they are putting greater loads on their knees, and it doesn't take much extra weight, either. Runners have more knee problems because they put more load on their knees. Power weight lifters tend to have more knee problems...are you seeing a trend here? I am fairly certain that extensive single speed riding will increase the rate that one develops osteoarthritis in the knees, which is arthritis from the joint wearing down.

    I am not against SS, as I have two (commuter bike and MTB) and enjoy riding them, but I do moderate how much I ride SS and how hard I push it up steep hills.

  12. #12
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    I think that proper SS riding will not stress joints anymore than anything else. I think that trying to sit n' spin in too low a gear is gonna stress the knees for sure. Thats why you stand up and mash.1

    I have been doing sports my whole life (wrestling, martial arts, snowboarding, powerlifitng) and my knees and lower back are a problem. MTB on an SS gives me far less problems than anything else I do, including running!

  13. #13
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    Another one, I had some cycling knee pain issues that went away when I gained a lot of strength riding singlespeed. Right now I'm dealing with some minor patella femoral syndrome, but I would not attribute that to the singlespeed -- it has more to do with basketball and my inability to carry out my physio program.

  14. #14
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    had full reconstructive surgery, (hit by car while walking) on both knees about 25 yrs ago and have been riding about 12yrs and SSing about 1yr. now. the knees are getting a little arthritic, but the pain goes away as soon as I jump on the bike. SS doesnt seem to cause any pain (they feel better after I ride) and I have a geared bike or two for the days my knees dont feel up to the SS task. No matter how sore or achey my knees are, I can still jump on a bike and ride 15-20 miles w/no pain at all. not bad for a guy w/o an ACL in both knees!!!!

  15. #15
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    I never hurt and at my age I should be hobbling if it was true.

    I reckon knee pain on a SS is more to do with bad cleat positions than the SS bike. Those things need to be fitted properly. I never use cleats offroad.

    Also I don't see much point in trying to mash at less than walking speed. I walk, and that's a point of maximum stress on the knees removed.
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  16. #16
    mvi
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    Riding big gears on the shifty bikes makes my knees hurt more. So does the SS MTB, and I have a 38/25 on it.
    I agree with the above post about cartilage loading: too much is not good. Speed is easier on the joint than load.

  17. #17
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    Last year I lost 3/4 of a riding season due to knee pain so here's the voice of my experience:

    I've had issues with my right knee (meniscus) on/off for quite some time. The absolute WORSE THING YOU CAN DO (note caps) is mash while seated. Virtually impossible to do with SS since you tend to stand up sooner and keep up momentum. No other choice! With gears you can drop a few, stay lazy and seated and then start to increase the torque by not dropping a few more as the hill steepens. Think about it... as the load increases shifting becomes more crunchy so you may tend0 to "power it out" instead of keeping up the cadence.

    Any time my knees have acted up in riding it's due entirely to that... seated and torquing away. The moment I get up I feel relief.

    Mashing SS while standing in theory puts a serious load on but if you think about it, this is exaclty the way your knees were meant to bear weight. And unless you're bending handlebars into pretzels, you're not really putting any more weight than that of your full body. So it's a lot like climbing stairs. Seated and hammering is not a natural motion for the knee. So as long as you avoid this, you're good to go regardless of gears or no.

    As an aside I always avoided squats at the gym, preferring knee extensions. Until I found out through the ortho that extensions are far worse for knee loading than squats. Switching to squats and beefing up the leg meat did far more to eliminate my knee issues and pain than the surgery I had four years ago! I even started jogging again recently which was all but written off after surgery.

    Maintain leg definition, keep all the muscle groups balanced and I predict a long a healthy service life out of your leg joints. Oh yeah... and it could be placebo effect but I swear by Glucosamine/Condroitin.
    Last edited by Deme Moore; 03-03-2009 at 12:27 AM.

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