Sports FAQ
Home / Bike Maintenance

Help with fitting

Savra2012-05-17 20:20:09 +0000 #1
I have found the best place for any kind of bike advice is to start here. You gals are the best so far in helping out with any kind of bike issues.

On that note - help!! Last summer I developed tendonitis in my Achilles. I went for a bike fitting, hoping it would help. The guy at the LBS immediately lectured me on the height of saddle. I took it well and lowered the saddle. Well, since then not only does the Achilles tendons still act up but now I have knee pain. The guy at the LBS was kind of a jerk and I came away feeling like he thought I was an idiot and he was the better person. An *** in effect. So now I don't know what to do. I hate paying for yet another fitting simply to have the same experience but this is not working. What I know is that the cleat on my right leg feels off but no matter how much I play with it or ask others to adjust it, I just can't get it right - and that's the leg that hurts. I also know my knees hurt at the saddle height.

Any advice would be helpful. Thank you.

ny biker2012-05-17 20:29:58 +0000 #2
Did the fitter adjust the saddle height for you, or did you do it yourself?
OakLeaf2012-05-17 21:08:36 +0000 #3
I definitely get Achilles tendon issues from having my saddle too high.

But I wonder if your crankarms aren't too long for you. Your issues sound very similar to mine. If I ride anything longer than 165 mm, my seat height is simultaneously too high at the bottom of the pedal stroke - where I have to reach for the pedal with my toes and cause myself Achilles issues - and too low at the top of the pedal stroke - where I have to flex my knees past 90° and cause myself kneecap tracking problems.

How long are your cranks? How long are your legs? It really has as much to do with tibia/femur ratio as with overall leg length, but inseam might give you a clue.

Also, when you moved your seatpost down, did you also move your saddle back on the rails?

On the cleat that you can't get adjusted enough, which extreme is it at when it hits the limit? (fore, aft, inside, outside, rotated toe-in or toe-out)? That might give you some clues as well.
Savra2012-05-17 21:30:29 +0000 #4
A) I let the LBS adjust the seat height. B) I did not move the seat back - but I have noticed that I keep pushing my but back now that it's lower. C) My right foot feels like my toes are angled in (and heel out) much more than my left foot (which doesn't feel angled at all). I have an inseam of 28.5 inches. The crank on my road bike is 7.5" and on my Surly 7". Interestingly, my right knee hurts on the Surly while my left hurts on the road bike.
withm2012-05-17 20:42:05 +0000 #5
I too suffered with achilles tendonitis for a couple of years. I did PT for 3 months, which helped a lot. In addition to the exercises, My PT, also a cyclist, also had me do:

1. Use Heel cushions in my everyday shoes. I used these (still do):

2. Lower bike seat, and slide it back on the rails accordingly.

3. Moved cleats on my bike shoes back a little bit.

I got quite a bit of improvement in the first few months, but it did take over a year to be back at 100%. Probably would have helped to continue the exercises longer, but, well,......

Good luck.
OakLeaf2012-05-17 21:10:06 +0000 #6

Originally Posted by Savra

The crank on my road bike is 7.5" and on my Surly 7".

That can't be right. 7.5" is 190mm and I don't think anyone even makes crankarms that long.

Best I could find from cursory googling is that the LHT specs with Andel RSC6 triple cranks, and those appear come only in 175 mm? If that's correct, that's still WAY longer than I'd ever be able to ride with my 29" inseam.

As far as exercises, I went through PT this summer for my Achilles as well - she did a whole lot of mobilization of the bones in my feet, but the home exercises I have are:

(1) One-legged calf raises x 15 each leg. Start with shoes on and progress to barefoot and then to an unstable surface; start with your fingers lightly touching something to hang on (a wall, table or chair back) and progress to no hands.

(2) "Rotating airplane" - come from standing to Warrior III with your arms in "airplane" position and then go directly from there into half moon pose (ardha chandrasana), to rotated half moon pose (pavritta ardha chandrasana) and back three times, then return to standing with knee raised before putting the leg down. Again, start with shoes, progress to barefoot and to an unstable surface. This one's great because it works strength and proprioception in both ankles and hips.

After those strength exercises (which I typically do after a run or ride) I work flexibility:

(3) rolling out my calves with a Stick and my feet with a spiky ball - you could also use a golf ball, spiky stick, walking on pebbles for your feet.

(4) Traditional forward leaning calf stretch, with a wedge under my heel to balance my varus heel and keep my ankle aligned during the stretch; I raise the opposing knee and move it from inside to outside ten times during the stretch.

I know getting my bones "unstuck" helped a lot, but the more I work it, the less trouble I have with my Achilles as I ramp up my running mileage.

Still, it really sounds like you need to get your fit dialed, and unfortunately, you may need to shell for another fitting.
Muirenn2012-05-17 21:09:17 +0000 #7
Nothing to add except: Find a different fitter!
westtexas2012-05-17 23:15:26 +0000 #8

Originally Posted by Muirenn

Nothing to add except: Find a different fitter!


Also, are you riding with your heels up or down? I was told by a cyclist much more experienced than I that keeping your heels "up" while pedaling can lead to the symptoms you describe. Apparently, you should keep your heels "down" at all times (as much as is possible anyway. Works the backsides of your legs nicely on the upstroke if you really concentrate on doing it). Hard for me to remember and every now and then I have to think about it, but I already have knee problems (IT band) so I don't want to tick off my Achilles either.



Other posts in this category