Professional Bike Fit & New Doctor

I finally sucked it up and took my bike in to get professionally fit. I’d been dragging my feet all winter long and with my one and only bike commute attempt this spring, I realized I just need to do it. It’s definitely expensive, but I think the benefits outweigh the cost. Even though I bought my bike from Bike Gallery, I got the fitting at River City Bikes. It’s a great bike store, very highly rated and I felt confident going there for the fitting. I tried to get fitted at Bike Gallery, since they sold me the bike, but it was near impossible to coordinate and they had difficult times. River City had more of an open schedule and I could get in quicker and at a convenient time for me (i.e. not having to take time off work).

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The fitting was done in a separate building from the main retail store. It was a large room with a massage table and lots of gadgets. I was glad it wasn’t in the main store where it was noisy and crowded. I really felt like I was getting the undivided attention of the professional. Ward Griffiths was who I saw. She had a lot of experience and after only a few minutes she kinda already knew what was going on with my body and my bike.

She did an initial review of me on the bike trainer. Then she did a bunch of tests and measurements. She was testing my hips, how my knees track, my flexibility, pretty much everything. She took a log of every injury and surgery I’ve had. Then she set up the cameras in two different locations to get different views of me on the bike.

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She did her magic with the computer program to analyze how my body works on the bike and found a few things. First, I was stretching too far out to reach the handle hoods. That can put a lot of pressure on the upper body, strain the back and cause knee pain. How could that cause knee pain? Because I’m less stable and my center of gravity puts all the weight on my knees. Good to know!

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Second, she also moved my seat slightly up and slightly back. That sounds counter-productive to the issue of me stretching too far, right? But she also swapped out my stem or a shorter one. This basically moved my whole body back a little on the bike and should hopefully take some of the pressure off my knees. She was also going to change out the handlebars to a shorter model but we decided to wait and see how these initial changes effect my riding.

As part of the $175 fitting cost, I can go back to be re-fitted as many times as I want for the next 12 months. I think that’s fantastic. It’s going to take a few really good and maybe long rides to figure out if the changes she made worked. If they didn’t, I’ll go back and try the new handlebars. It’s going to be a trial-and-error experiment until we get it just right.

One other thing Ward did was put in a small plastic “lift” in my cycling shoes. The mechanics of my feet and the way I pronate could be part of the problem with my knees. We’re hoping the lifts in the shoes will help.

My “diagnosis” is that I have mild valgus in my left foot and knee, moderate valgus in my right foot and mild valgus in my right knee. Valgus refers to the structure of my feet and knees–basically I’m slightly bow-legged or knock-kneed.

After the fitting (which took 3 hours and not the 2 they said it would take), Michael and I went home famished and fixed dinner. We made the gluten-free garlic basil penne that I bought at Pike Place Market last weekend.

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I sprinkled on some of the basil olive oil I also bought at the Market, mixed in some sauteed kale and cut up chicken sausages. I shredded a little fresh parmesan cheese and called it good. It was a really tasty dinner. I liked all the flavors together. The gluten-free pasta had a different texture but it didn’t have an odd taste.

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Dinner was less than 500 calories and very filling! I like that the chicken sausages are only 100 calories per link!

Follow-Up Appointment

The following day I saw a new knee specialist. You may remember the last specialist I saw had zero bedside manner and his solution to my knee issues was to offer me a walker or wheelchair. Yeah………So I took his advice and rested my lower body for 6 weeks, didn’t see improvement and made a followup appointment with a different specialist. Enough of this. It’s gone on too long.

I saw the new doc, Carol, and loved her. She had great bedside manner, was an athlete herself and said she wanted to get me back to full capacity. She analyzed the new X-rays she ordered and reviewed the MRI results again. She said everything looks structurally good. There’s a small spot of wear on my right knee but nothing terrible and I don’t need surgery.

Her diagnosis was runner’s knee, of course, basically overuse in the kneecap. Something is weak in my knees and it’s causing everything to flare up from rubbing the wrong way. I’m paraphrasing. She gave me a few new exercises to do (one was flexing my quad and kneecap–it feels really gross and it’s creepy but she said it works). She gave me a plan for biking (no hills), hiking (recommended poles), and running (soft terrain and flat surfaces). She also referred me to a PT that she prefers. She also told me to do the leg press machine at the gym one leg at a time.

I’m going to do everything she said. I’m also back to starting Phase 1 of Suzanne’s program again. I decided it would be good to start it again because now I can do lower body exercises (squats, etc) that will help strengthen my quads and glutes. I will definitely be signing up with Suzanne again in a few weeks.

I’m happy with my doctor. I’m disappointed that it was basically the same advice I got from my regular Sports Medicine doc back in October –physical therapy and take it easy. But I’ll give it a go.

QUESTION: Have you ever had a professional bike fitting? What was your experience?

14 Responses

  1. I never thought that not having the right position/seat/handle bars could effect your knees so much – I think it was worth the $$.

    Okay, I used to have horrible plantar fasciitis – so bad that some mornings it was painful just to put my foot on the ground to get up and use the bathroom in the morning – I literally would have to walk on my tippy toes because the heel pain was so bad.

    I sucked it up, went to the foot doctor and got $500 (insurance paid!) inserts for my shoes – which made all the difference in the world. The only problem was that they didn’t fit many of my shoes.

    I found this stretch class on PBS called Classical Stretch. She is a ballet dancer, but now she does these 30 minute stretches that are all different, and after a week of doing these 30 minute stretches, my heel pain was completely gone, and I no longer wear the inserts. If I start to feel heel pain again, I just do the stretches again until it goes away – usually for weeks (or months!) at a time.

    You can find it here – maybe search your t.v. for it? http://www.classicalstretch.com/
    Biz recently posted..Stormy Weather

    1. Thanks for the link, I will check it out. That’s cool that you found something to cure your PF. From what I’ve heard it’s extremely painful. Did you try yoga at all to alleviate it?

    1. I got the basic fitting when I bought the bike but it was my first road bike and the fitting was on a trainer in the middle of the store. I don’t think it was a good assessment.

  2. I’ve never had a professional bike fitting, but I have heard of them. I think it’s a great idea, especially if you bike a lot. I think you can avoid so many injuries when you ensure you’re in correct form. Glad to hear you like the new doctor you met. Sounds like she will be a great improvement from the last one!
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Grilled Fava Beans

    1. From now on my first question with a new doctor is “are you an athlete?” The first sports medicine doctor I ever saw (for an IT band issue) was a runner and understood how I felt and wanted to get me cured!

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