The knackered knees brigade. Reassure me. Even if its all lies

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  • The knackered knees brigade. Reassure me. Even if its all lies
  • Premier Icon binners

    I’m having an existential crisis. I feel like Sharon the battered wife, who won’t leave Darren, because deep down she knows that he loves her really. He just expresses his love in that unique Stella-fuelled way. She just needs him to reassure her of that before he goes down to the pub again

    Thats the relationship my love of mountain biking is presently having with my knees. My knees, the left one in particular, have had a pretty bad paper round. Rugby injuries from my yoot, chucking motor bikes down the road…… shredded ligaments, smashed cartledges

    I’ve noticed the last few years that when the nights draw in and the temperature dips, they ache like hell when I’m out on the bike. And I’ve just accepted that and got on with it. But they seem to be really suffering at the moment. I can feel my left knee stiffening up as I’m riding, and what starts as a dull ache ends up as genuine pain after about 10 miles. I’ve still been taking a load of Ibuprofen and just riding anyway. Yesterday, after being off the bike for a few weeks, to give them a break, I did the commute (12 miles, about 1000ft of climbing), and I had to pull up on a steep climb, and get the missus to come and get me. I was in agony!

    Now I’ve read plenty of people of …. ahem… a ‘certain age’ moaning about their knees on here, so I’m looking for your experiences and advice. Am I hitting the point where I’m… while not neccessarily knocking the winter riding on the head, then reigning it in a bit? In the interests of longevity, and not doing myself permanent damage? Just ride shorter distances, limiting myself to quick blasts? Ride on my own, so I can dictate the (slow) pace? Just MTFU an stop bitching?

    Reassure me with your words of wisdom, experience and advice oh wise ones. Or mercilessly mock me for being a fat, unhealthy old duffer who appears to falling apart…..

    Premier Icon rob

    Knee warmers worked a treat for me

    Premier Icon GHill

    Man up, you’ll be fine.

    (may be lies)

    Premier Icon grizedaleforest

    Unless you’ve got a very low pain threshold or are 93, then what you describe doesn’t sound like normal age related wear and tear stiffness. Invest in a consultation with a sports med specialist – best outcome: know what the problem is; remedial exercise/activity; fixed (ish)

    (edit: may be lies)

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    If it’s mainly temperature related then I find knee pads mean I have lovely warm knees even on cold days. Only issue would be if the pads put pressure on your knee cap that caused problems.

    You can wear long trousers or 3/4’s to cover them for road riding!


    I strap mine up with tape.



    In the interests of longevity, and not doing myself permanent damage?

    It will sound harsh but the numerous possible knee injuries you mentioned from many years of (mis)use could already be taking you down that road of permanent damage.

    If it were me I would want to know what underlying damage there might already be in the knee with an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon. Chances are there isn’t anything treatment-wise they’d recommend (unless there is a lot of degeneration in the joint) but just say to do what you can within the pain.

    However the reason for getting a good summary of the current knee health (meniscal damage/ ligament condition/ cartilage condition/ etc) would be to see a physio and be able to give them detailed information to help work around making you a bit more comfortable on the bike. That is most likely the thing that could change you knee’s happiness on the bike I would say.


    Unless you’ve got a very low pain threshold or are 93, then what you describe doesn’t sound like normal age related wear and tear stiffness. Invest in a consultation with a sports med specialist – best outcome: know what the problem is; remedial exercise/activity; fixed (ish)

    Beaten to it by a more concise post! 😆

    Premier Icon nedrapier

    I’ve got dodgy knees. Knee warmers go on when it’s below 10 degrees. Fleecey backed lycra Sportful ones. Sometimes they’re a bit too warm, but toasty knees is a good thing.

    I spend a few minutes stretching my glutes, calves and quads before i leave home in the morning and the office in the evening. If I don’t for a while they definitely start feeling worse for it.

    Don’t just pile on the drugs and MTFU unless you want to be back on here writing about giving up cycling completely. And walking with a frame earlier than you should have needed to.

    Go and see a decent physio/knee specialist and see if there’s one or two particular causes, (eg misalignment, muscle/ligament tightness?) that you can work on to help the situation, or stop it getting worse.

    Your knees, your lifestyle, your life. It’s worth putting in a bit (a lot) of effort to get the most out of them.


    Unless you’ve got a very low pain threshold or are 93, then what you describe doesn’t sound like normal age related wear and tear stiffness. Invest in a consultation with a sports med specialist – best outcome: know what the problem is; remedial exercise/activity; fixed (ish)

    Beaten to it by a more concise post!



    Amputation followed by installation of bionic legs (may be costly).

    (may be lies)

    Premier Icon righog

    About 3 years ago I thought my riding days were over, due to really bad ( crying) knee pain. I reckoned they could not get any worse and taped them up with some blue stretchy tape from boots, and rode as much as I could. They got better and are fine now.


    after years of playing football, biking , kung foo, skiing etc my knees are pretty flaky.
    ive had 3 arthuroscopies, 2 in last 3 years on the same knee.
    best thing is first to lose any extra weight you are carrying, ive lost 2 1/2 stone.
    i wear hinged knee braces on both knees every ride with an elasticated bandage underneath.
    for skiing i have the proper articulated knee braces.
    i am very very carefull when im walking that i dont turn my knees quickly and twist them.
    i find that yes they do ache after the rides but not to the point i think im damaging them.
    im 61 and go biking 3 times a week and im hoping to do some enduro stuff next year.
    i also do a bit of bungee jumping,Verzasca james bond jump last year
    ive got an ibis mojo hd and fireline hard tail.
    ive always thought cleats were best, set to keep my knee angled the way that is most comfortable, but i am 50/50 with flats.
    whether you should continue if you are worried is debatabl.
    MY feelings are,i would rather do as much as i can while i am fit and able and sit and watch the telly when i have to and not before i am ready.


    Stop going in Greggs, stop eating sausages, stop smoking, stop drinking and stop playing with yourself.

    I dunno if it’ll help with your knees but it’ll give you enough cash to buy an electric mtb (or stick one of those little petrol 2 strokes on the bike like they have around here).


    Premier Icon Trekster

    I just do a bit of everything above. Right knee damaged as a teenager, worked on farms till 18, crawled about garage floors till 26, 30yrs of squash(ignoring all pain & advice to stop!)

    I try not to take any pain killers, don’t feel they hit the spot.

    Long day in the hills last week and after dinner knee had swollen and seized !!

    I also visited the physio who keeps my back in shape for some exercises and joined the local gym for a 3mth trial period

    At a recent event I had a sports massage to release a tight hamstring and she reckons some of my issues my be coming from a tilted pelvis due to poor core strength!

    @60 I now twiddle the granny ring more than ever, ride alone more than ever so that I can go slow etc 🙄

    Premier Icon binners

    Stop going in Greggs, stop eating sausages, stop smoking, stop drinking and stop playing with yourself.

    But then what would be the point of living? 😉

    Thanks for all the advice folks. This could be the motivation I need to shift some timber. And over-ride my natural bookish ‘it’ll be fine’ attitude, and get myself an appointment booked in for someone to have a look at it properly

    Thanks all

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    @60 I now twiddle the granny ring more than ever

    euphemism of the day 😉


    Acupuncture might be worth a shot. It has helped me with some injuries that didn’t want to heal.


    carry on riding now
    plenty of time to get into the granny ring when you retire


    I have a few knackered joints from years of various abuse, (knees, shoulder, elbow, wrist), and since I started taking Glucosamine / MSM / Chondrontin on a daily basis things don’t ‘grind’ as much.

    I agree with you that winter does kill me sometimes, but kinesiology tape a bit of a pre-warm up and good warm / wind proof clothing generally gets me through it.

    I’ve been told I can have various Ops to sort things out but I couldn’t stand to be off my bike for the 6+ months 😆


    Binners do you take supplements? Tescos sell Glucosamate and cod liver oil cheep!

    Premier Icon FOG

    I too have tried the glucosamine route but it is hard to know if they make a difference but things are better than a few years ago. At one time ,although I could walk, I couldn’t do even the mildest off road walk without pain. I tried acupuncture which seemed to help and went to an osteo who recommended the hot/cold treatment which they seem to use for everything but it did work. Every time I have a relapse I repeat the hot pack for 2 mins alternating with the ice pack for 2mins repeated 5 times and it seems to help.

    Premier Icon binners

    Hora – while I’ve explored many recreational pharmaceuticals, procured from the dodgiest possible sources, I’ve always viewed supplements sold over the counter at Tesco with suspician 😆

    Looks like a trip to the chemist is in order on the way home too then. Can’t do any harm.

    Thanks again all

    Big M

    Both my knees have seen better days through rugby injuries, binning the motorbike and a ‘comeback’ in BMX at the age of 38.
    When the temperature drops I tend to ride in fleecy backed 3/4’s to keep my knees/ham strings/quads warm. I steer clear of painkillers as they only mask the damage being done.
    I always try to warm up by spinning gently for the first few miles as well. Currently commute on a SS road bike but I’m running a fairly light gear, spin to win!


    I too have tried the glucosamine route but it is hard to know if they make a difference

    It doesn’t. At least not in OA.


    +1 for the knee warmers. I read somewhere anything below 15°C and they should be covered. That and lose some timber, but doe the truffle shuffle for us first

    I mashed up my left knee MX racing about 7 years ago. Things I’ve learnt since: arthritis is inevitable with damaged joints so play the long game if you waft to keep riding, less weight means less pressure on the joint so less inflammation and less pain, court/ball sports are bad for sudden twisting (not good when the ligaments are loose from injury), drugs just mask pain and let you dig deeper into damage and then require even longer to recover, physio’s are good for advising how to best strengthen muscles around the knee to support the joint, cyclists have tight hamstrings which leads to all sorts of bad joints and lower back pain problems so stretch regularly AFTER warming up, warmth is your muscle and ligaments friend so embrace it and best of all, cycling’s good for knee joints because it is (mostly) non weight bearing:)


    Binners- give them a couple of weeks to kick in.


    Hmm I’ve had a fair few knee troubles.

    As you are getting it checked out, it can only be a good thing, you will either discover:
    – you have a problem with your knees, and learn how to fix it
    – that your knees have no damage and that what you are doing isn’t doing them any harm (woohoo!)

    If you can get an MRI scan that’s probably the best way to get it looked at (but then they aren’t exactly conclusive)

    I’ve taken glucosamine sulphate in the past, and last time I looked into it, it was not proven to have any beneficial effects for knee pain sufferers: (

    Generally the path to knee recovery is:
    – Muscle strength (you need strong leg muscles to support the knee, quads and hamstrings especially)

    – Good flexibility (if your muscles/ligaments are tight they will pull your kneecap/leg out of correct alignment)

    – Increasing Stamina, ability to do something over and over, but build this up, don’t overdo it! Cycling and walking are good.

    – Proprioception – WTF?! It was a new one on me, basically, this is your body’s method of knowing where your body parts are all the time. Right now if you close your eyes, you will know where each leg is, if your legs are crossed, etc. So knowing where your limbs are is important, if your brain gets this slightly wrong and you are doing the same movement over and over again, 1000s of times e.g. running incorrectly, turning your foot in when do your pedal stroke, then it could cause damage to your knee/ankle/etc. You can improve this by balancing excercises, and standing on one leg, then start closing your eyes to make it harder!

    It sounds like you have a bit of osteoarthritis.

    Caveat: I’m not a physio or anything, I have just read a few “knee” books trying to sort my own out. I’ve been to physios and specialists, had 2 MRIs, and an ultrasound. But I like knowing what is going on, this is a good short book, and summarises the general excercises you can do to help your pain that ties in with those 4 things I mentioned earlier. Good luck!

    Premier Icon nano

    Wouldn’t bother with glucosamine… chondrotin on the other hand seems to have something going for it..

    Diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee after an injury 12 years ago. Can’t run or play football since then but riding is fine.

    Doc says every 1kg in weight lost is worth 4kg less impact on my knee.


    Yet another +1 for fleecy knee warmers, although if you’re popping the meds like tictacs, it may not be enough


    This exercise has saved my knees so many times, do it a lot times to start with, done right your outer leg muscle will star aching!

    Its called itb stretch, google it for further info.

    And yep, and wear kneewarmwrs most of the year


    25 years of knee problems,cruciate ligaments are mush(surgeons words)severe osteo arthritis in both knees and loads of ibuprofen.still manage to get out on the mtb,use the granny rather than stomping on the pedals.mostly ride alone so i can go at my own pace.still get some airtime when having a good day but full sus is a must.defo get a diagnosis though.


    I’m sure you will have already done these options to death but have you considered 3/4 shorts (fleece lined endura type) and Time pedals?

    I had a few problems, albeit not as extreme as you describe a while back a few years ago and switching to Times was a big help as they are much kinder to the knees and 3/4 shorts keep the knee toasty as well as provide a good bit of support to boot.


    Lots of pain here too, especially when i push hard. 4hr race on sunday, usually takes 3 days bwfore pain reduces so i can sleep properly. Seems to be itb related. Stretching helps but doesnt seem to cure. Massage is better than drugs

    Premier Icon lunge

    Not advice but reassurance. My old man is 62, he played football for 35 years (no exaggeration, he played his last semi-pro game at 53). His knees were shot to the point where he couldn’t walk for 10 mins without needing a sit down, really sad to see in someone who has been constantly active all his life.

    He had a total knee replacement on the worst knee at 60 and the result is quite wonderful. He walks, he cycles (road mostly but 80 miles gives him few difficulties), he spends all day in the garden and he is even thinking about getting his football boots out again though my mom would kill him if he did.

    So yes, they may get bad but in my experience they can be fixed.


    I’m carrying a significant knee injury and knowing that i have always looked to manage my knee. Which means
    cleat and saddle position are vital. Keeping your knees covered during cold weather is essential. Spin small gears and try not to stomp big gears on a climb. In other words try and take care of yourself and get yourself checked out professionally .

    That said all injuries and remedies are unique but my first port of call would be a specialist who has experience of cyclists


    binners – Member
    Just MTFU an stop bitching?

    That one. As my mum always says ‘there’s always some worse off’ and i happen to know him very, very well. He’s a long time friend and riding/snowboarding buddy and if you saw the state of his legs/knees you would be ashamed to be moaning. I know i am when my knees start playing up. He has one good* leg and one comedy bad leg. Born with a club foot he’s had dozens of ops to remove muscle, toes, bone, ligaments and cartilage. The bones in and around the knee of his bad leg are crumbling away now and every couple of years he has to have an op to remove the shards. Doctors can’t believe he can even walk, never mind ride, and he doesn’t just ride, he gnars it up to the max, dude! He’s one tough little guy and i’m honoured to call him a friend. He really is an inspiration. You da man Stevie!

    * His good knee is on a par with my bad knee, which by normal standards is pretty borked.

    Premier Icon Bregante

    In the last five years I’ve had two arthroscopies and a torn patellar tendon. My left knee makes a very odd crunching sound and after a long ride it takes a good few days to settle down (it actually feels hot to touch when it’s like this)

    Some people do knock Glucosamine and there are lots of reports to say it doesn’t work but I definitely feel like it has a positive effect for me.

    Premier Icon The Wrong Trousers

    Had knee issues for many years, mostly brought about by running in my yoof.
    Right now, they’re pretty healthy and feel as good as they have in a long while.
    My advice would be, there’s not just one thing to try, it’s a combination of many, here’s what worked/works for me :
    Go see a good physio, get them to suggest exercises to improve strength and flexibility. One or more muscles around your knee will be weak causing an imbalance, get in the gym and work on those weaknesses.
    If the physio refers you to a surgeon, consider an arthroscopy clear-out type of thing. In my experience, takes about six months to feel the benefit.
    Only go down the major surgery / knee replacement avenue when you absolutely can’t manage the pain that you have. It will never be a new knee, with or without surgey.
    Keep your knees warm, don’t try to be a he-man and wear shorts all year round.
    Take glucosamine. The liquid form seems to be more effective, but it’s more expensive.
    Get a bike fitting done. They will measure all your joints and angles and set your bike up specifically for you. They will adjust your pedals and cleats to minimise aggrovation of the ole’ knees. And make up tailored insoles to go in your shoes to control your foot movement.
    I went to CycleFit in London and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
    When they’re feeling achy or sore after a ride, liberally cover the offending knee(s) in ibuprofen gel with a support tubi-grip thing over the top to keep the gel in and to keep them warm and go to bed. In the morning the pain will be gone.


    Just MTFU an stop bitching?

    Ah the old Rugby approach.

    End up spending your later years with a lower quality of mobility?

    Take the supplements for a few weeks- it’ll feel like fools gold because when you don’t hurt/feel owt you’ll lazily stop taking them (my Mum is guilty of this).

    I most certainly wouldn’t man up. I know a couple of blokes who in 10-15yrs time wont be riding or doing much physical exercise full stop. They don’t know it but I can bloody see it.


    I went to see a knee specialist and had an MRI scan..

    After a couple of years, physio, talks of exploratory surgery and cortisone shots, his conclusion pretty much was ‘well, err knees are pretty tricky and confusing, have you tried ibuprofen’

    The biggest help I have found is changing from doing long endurance style exercise (all day MTB rides) to very short really heavy duty muscle building exercise (very hilly 5 mile school run with 2 kids and trailer)

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