Phantom Knee Pain

My knee was sore Tuesday, but I went for my usual Tuesday evening after-work ride anyway.  Made it worse.

Besides my saddle sore issues, I had another weird one last week. I noticed while climbing stairs during the day that my left knee hurt. Nothing big, but it was bothersome.

I didn’t think much of it, and I went out as I usually do on a Tuesday evening to take my small ring ride at the Veloway. While riding, the pain disappeared, so I figured it was just a temporary ache.

When I got home after an hour’s ride, the knee was quite sore. It ached with every step I took, and it was hard for me to get comfortable for any length of time in my easy chair that evening. I worried that I had stupidly done some serious damage to the knee.

While getting ready for bed, I applied pressure with my thumb to the edge of the kneecap. Hm, that was some noticeable soreness. I stared at the ceiling for awhile that night, rolling over in my mind all the dire medical problems I might have aggravated by riding the bike that day.

In the morning, the pain was gone. The night after, I rode again (the night when I aggravated the saddle sore – the fates were going to get me one way or the other!).

I was baffled. I had thought that somehow I had been riding out of position. Maybe the saddle slipped down a bit (No). Maybe I had loose cleats that caused my knee to be out of alignment when I pedaled (No, cleats are nice and tight). Maybe I had ridden with my knees pointed out, which I sometimes catch myself doing. But I haven’t really done that in two years, so I was confident that couldn’t be it.

Here I am a week later, and I have no knee pain. Still trying to figure out how it was able to come and go so quickly.


  1. says

    Do you know what mate? I get all sorts of random mystery pains all the time. Knees, shoulders, back, neck etc etc…

    Although my Rugby and Army days are clearly catching up with me I put it down to that ailment that has no known cure and gets us all eventually.


    Yep, that’s right, we’re getting old. Doesn’t mean we have to act our age though! :-)

  2. Andy says

    I’m 57 years old and have been riding these past 5 years or so without knee pain. However, toward the end of last year’s season (I live in NH so we’re talking late October) I noticed that I was getting some knee pain toward the end of 20 or 25 mile rides.

    This year, the knee pain was worse from the beginning. After 10 miles or so my left knee started aching right at the patella. This happened every single ride and quickly became so uncomfortable that I had to cut rides short. So I came up with a 3-point program.

    First, I replaced my Shimano road pedals with Speedplay Light Action pedals, which have more than twice the float and no centering spring that torques against the free movement of your knee. Second, I started taking Glucosamin/Chondroitin, even though clinical studies have cast doubt on its efficasy. And thrid, I moved my seat about 1 centimeter forward, after I read that a common cause of kneee pain was riding on a seat too far back.

    Immediately, all my knee pain vanished. I’ve taken 35 mile rides lately with no knee pain at all.

    I’m not sure which of the things I mentioned had the most effect– I wasn’t so much interested in doing a scientific control experiment as attaining quick relief. Maybe they all contributed to the cure!

  3. Jason says


    It can come and go and move things out of their normal spots causing pain. Currently, I ride on 2 surgically repaired knees and a torn disc (L5-S1) in my lower back. I tore my ACL in my right knee playing football about 2 years , I tore a ligament in my left knee about 3 years ago and I crushed that disc in my back on a squat rack at the gym. Both or my knees are in great shape after surgery and I was even playing football again until my back gave up.

    Cycling is the only sport I got left, mainly because of my back, but I still get the occasional pain in each of the 3 location mentioned above. After spending a ton of time with doctors, chiros, myos, accupuncturist, etc. I’ve learned that inflammation is to blame for almost everything but a tear/break of some sort. As one part swells it moves other parts out of position causing pain- pretty simple when you think about it.

  4. says

    Loose cleats. I did this one just the other day. I went out for about a 10 mile ride and couldn’ t for the life of me figure out why it was so hard to clip in and out. Next thing I knew my right knee started to bother me a little. When I got home from my ride, I was walk out of my garage and heard a strange noise as I walked. It didn’t have the normal sound of walking on the cleat. Turns out my cleat had come loose. Chalk that one up as a reminder to check before I ride.

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