Monday, May 2, 2011

Would You Like Some RSI With That?

At some point in every cyclist's life, there comes a time when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. After months of increasing pain in multiple joints and decreasing riding because of it, I am embarking on many measures to try to reverse that equation. While for most people, pain when cycling has to do with poor bicycle fit, my problems are from overuse, which to my mind is a more difficult thing to remedy. The only way to fix it is to ride less, and at this point I have eliminated ALL of my pleasure riding and only ride for my daily life needs like grocery shopping or getting to appointments. Even with that, until the last couple of weeks, I was avoiding my bicycle for many things I would never have thought twice about using it for before. This has been unsettling for me as being able to ride my bicycle at will is like being able to walk where I want when I want.

I have now been able to get most of my issues under control with the help of a reumatologist, a good supply of NSAIDS and a lot of stretching. Feeling better has opened up more ability to ride and... patellofemoral syndrome. Typical. When it became impossible to walk down the stairs, I gave up and decided to take a few days off and see what would happen. So far it is a mixed bag. Sitting for any length of time makes me knees hurt, but then just about everything makes them worse. Despite 15 years of treating people with RSI (Repetitive Stress Injuries) like this, I am still frustrated and I feel hamstrung and I can't wait for this to be over. I am a terrible patient and I do not listen to anything I say.

So, with that in mind I thought I would share some things I found interesting or funny from the Web about bicycle related injuries. This first one made me laugh.

Cyclist is male.

Cyclist is nine to 14 years of age.

Cycling in the summer.

Cycling in late afternoon or early evening.

Cyclist does not wear helmet.

Motor vehicle involved.

Unsafe riding environment.

Cyclist is from an unstable family environment.

Cyclist has preexisting psychiatric condition.

Cyclist is intoxicated.

Cyclist is involved in competitive mountain-bike racing.

I am not sure that my knees are effected by any preexisting psychiatric condition, but then again, denial is a prime component of most psychiatric conditions so I could be wrong. Also, if I were an 11 year old boy, I doubt my knees would be an issue.

For more useful information on pain related to bicycle riding, you just can not go wrong with the amazing Sheldon Brown. I will be taking his advice to see if I have lateral movement in my pedaling. It is certainly possible as I have a very wide q-angle and tend to ride with my feet right on the outer edge of my pedals.

If all else fails, I could resort to the age old remedy of my people. It has worked for generations!

How do you deal with the pains that come from human powered movement?


  1. So sorry to hear that you're not able to move...I know how agonizing it is to be stuck indoors when you want to be on your bike or on your feet.

    Best of luck with your recovery! I think you have the right idea about, ahem, folk cures in a bottle. :)

  2. The article by Sheldon Brown is very interesting - thanks for providing a link to it. I had a bad ski accident a few years ago, where the top of my fibia was broken off. I have had troubles with my knee every since - not fun so I can relate to your issues. I took up bike riding to help me keep fit as running is no longer in the picture!! I hope you are able to find a way to make the pain go away.

  3. I feel a little more creaky after exertion in general these days but no debilitating pain yet. (Knock on wood.) My husband, who rides many more miles than I do and nearly every day, has had issues with his knees to the point he could barely ride. He's done a few things: 1) he takes his electric bike a couple times a week to give his knees a break, 2) on his regular bike he rides in lower gears (upped his cadence, similar to the Sheldon Brown article), and 3) when it was really bad, he got some acupuncture. Since having the acupuncture and then being very disciplined about his cadence, his knees haven't been troubling him. Hope your knees heal soon!
    --Karen (aka taomom)

  4. Emily- That remedy is by far the most pleasant one : )

    PA- Yowza! That must have been quite a fall! I was never a runner, but I know a lot of them and not being able to run must be difficult. Thank the stars there are bicycles!

    Karen- If I were buying a new city bike today, I would have to seriously consider an electric assist. When every ride is uphill and you do all of the family shopping, things get tiring very fast. I have tried using lower gearing but I have never been able to really get comfortable with the cadence and find that it can stir up my knee even more, which isn't unusual with the history of my knee.

  5. adriene, maybe you just need a Cycle that moves other parts of your body? Have a look at:

    and don't miss the video of people cycling it ;-)