Trivia Cycle was full today so again I rode the teacher’s bike in the front of the class. This time I was a little quieter than when I wrote Leader of the Stationary Bike Pack and I was prepared that people would naturally be watching me for pacing etc.
Usually I stand up as the tension gets higher so I can reduce strain on my knee with the patella injury, but today I tried to stay seated more. Bad mistake. I felt like I was pushing my knee with too much pressure, instead of keeping to the modification that has been working for me for years. I lowered the bike’s tension and focused on increasing my pace instead, thereby relieving any knee strain while still setting a visual example for my classmates.
My first cycling class a few years ago was all on low tension, under the advice of my dear friend, Jessica. She signed me up for the class after I mentioned that I wanted to get into good enough shape to take up cycling. Well, Jessica isn’t one to support wimp-ism, so she signed me up and coached me though. “No one can see how much tension is on your bike. You don’t have to increase the tension just because the instructor says so.” With Jessica beside me I made it through my cycling class – which was a full hour! That was four years and 27 lbs ago.
The Spinning brand bikes at that gym didn’t move side-to-side the way the RealRyder bikes do at Pulse and I had trouble increasing the tension at all without feeling stress on my knee. Pulse was just opening and the side-to-side motion gave a softer feeling for my knee while I increased my strength. Interestingly, I had a hard time standing up while pedaling on the RealRyders at first when I could stand on the more stable Spinning bikes. Within a few months I could stand on either bike and Lisa called me her, “Most Improved Stander.”
My knee issue is from a fall almost 17 years ago, causing a somewhat uncommon injury. Most knee issues are related to the meniscus (the cushion between your upper and lower leg), or the ACL (an important ligament in the knee). I slipped on uncarpeted stairs hitting just under my kneecap, causing the cartilage behind my patella to erode. I had surgery, taped my knee, and wore a knee brace over the next few years trying to stop the damage but nothing really worked. I felt some relief with annual hyaluronic acid injections (Synvisc, Hyalgen, etc.) but my orthopedic surgeon said I would need still knee replacement in a few years. “That cartilage isn’t coming back,” he said.
And then Jessica opened the door to cycling for me.
And now I have no (zero) knee pain on a daily basis.
And now I am no longer a candidate for knee replacement surgery!
In my experience, strengthening the muscles around my knee through indoor cycling has giving my patella just enough room to stop the bone-on-bone rubbing, thereby stopping the knee pain.
I still can’t kneel on that knee so I constantly make adjustments in Pilates and other classes. For example, one nice stretch in Lisa’s classes is cat/cow, where you position yourself on the mat on both your hands and knees, then alternate between arching and rounding your back. I simply stand up and put my hands on the wall to do the same stretch. You can see Lisa demonstrating cat/cow in her Blizzard video starting around time 2:30.
So, my point is that you need to find out what works for you, for YOUR body, and don’t let peer pressure make you do something you know will be a problem.
You do you.