It’s fascinating what you can learn from the cycling community.
Last week, I was battling a painful bout of gout in my left knee. I couldn’t bend the knee without it hurting, and I walked with a pronounced limp.
That’s all in the past now. A steroid injection into the knee and some time on the bike has done wonders. I’m walking normally again. The more time I ride, the better the knee feels.
But while I was laid up, I got lots of interesting advice. One item didn’t apply to my gout, but it’s interesting enough that I’m going to look into it anyway. It’s called the Kneesaver.
The idea behind the Kneesaver is simple. It’s an extension to the pedal axle, just 20, 25 or 30 mm long. The company says that added width to the pedal (what it calls the “Q factor”) can reduce or eliminate pain in the hip, knee, ankle or foot.
The Kneesavers web site (www.kneesaver.net) has testimonials from satisfied users, but I put more stock in the unsolicited testimonials from riders in my club whose experience I respect.
One said he bought them to help alleviate pain in his hip that came on after a crash. Not only did the pain go away, he said, but his knees felt younger, too (he’s in his upper 50s). When he started riding his “rain bike” during colder winter weather, the hip pain came back. He moved the Kneesavers over to his rain bike, and the pain went away. “A wider stance on the pedals will more closely approximate your ‘at rest’ standing position and that’s where you will have the most comfortable knee rotation,” he said. “It’s an old guy thing.” He was so happy with his experience that he’s buying another set for his wife.
Lending even more credibility to the worth of Kneesavers is a comment from another club member, who happens to be a physician. He also complained of hip pain after long bike rides. “What put me onto it was I noticed that long rides on our tandem didn’t give me this problem,” he said, “so when I checked I discovered that the Q on the tandem was an estimated 30% wider–because they use a MTB crankset (MTB cranksets have a significantly wider Q). When I measured my ‘standing Q’ it was 10cm wider than my road bike, so I increased it the minimum.”
One thing to watch for if using pedal extenders is the increased possibility of “pedal strike” in corners. You can’t lean the bike as far without the pedal hitting the ground. But since we’re supposed to corner with the inside pedal up, that shouldn’t be a problem.
This post is not to be considered an endorsement for Kneesavers. I haven’t tried them yet. But I’m not getting any younger, and anything that keeps me going in comfort is worth a look.
Just a note about steroid shots–from my experience, the first shot works like magic, the second wears off a bit more quickly, the third VERY quickly, and by the 4th shot, the relief may be measured in terms of hours. Be sure you are addressing the longterm cause of any pain if you got relief from a steroid shot, because future relief will diminish!
Fascinating. I’ve never heard of these. It’s funny, considering that some people go to great lengths/expense to get their Q factor as low as possible.
I could see this working. I use wide-ish platform pedals, so I can put my feet wherever it’s comfortable. I sacrifice some efficiency this way, but my feet, ankles, and knees thank me.
Life and Bikes says
Unless you’re riding with your knees flared out, I’m not sure increasing Q-factor will solve your problems. If you’re able to maintain a fairly linear leg line throughout your pedal stroke this solution may be a bit extreme.
Do you think the knee pain might have something to do with pedal float? I know you’ve written about it before but have you thought about ditching your current pedals all together and picking up some Speedplay X series with unlimited float?
This sounds like a great reason to go see a pro fitter and get his/her thoughts on the way your bike’s set up.
My current knee problem is related to gout, and not to any positioning problem with my pedals. I posted about the Kneesavers because I hadn’t heard of them before, and they sounded interesting. I’m happy with my SPD-SLs, but I will revisit the Speedplay topic on this blog again soon.
Life and Bikes says
One more thing, glad you’re feeling better and are back on the bike!
Thank you. I’m glad to be riding again, too.
so they’re spacers?
Lance Oldstrong says
I was introduced to knee savers by an expert fitter who actually teaches the Specialized Body Geometry Fit classes at Specialized headquarters.
I drove an hour and a half to have a fitting from him.
I have bone on bone with no cartilage remaining in my left knee from an old skate board accident and resulting knee reconstruction surgery. My left shin angles away from the femur above it at about a 15 degree angle from the distortions of the arthritis in that knee.
The knee saver he added has been wonderful.
I use it with a standard length Speedplay. On the other side, I have an extra long Speedplay but no knee saver. (this results in a little shorter Q factor set up than on my injury side)
After 20 Centuries and a Double Century with a regular set up, I can say for sure that the 3 Centuries I have done since he set me up in December have been much easier on me.
So, knee savers work for me, but I use just one.
It might be a good idea to see a fitter for how to best configure yours.
Suffering from pain just below the left knee. Landed hard on it a few years ago and I need to have it checked out. For a male of the species, I have relatively wide hips, but my question is, how do I size these? Is there a recommended size to start with? I’m 6’3″ and 190 lbs.