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).


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.


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!


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.


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.


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?

Cycling Swag

I’m going back in time a little bit here. New Year’s Eve Michael and I went snowshoeing. Thursday night though, I met my friend Robyn at the gym to do yoga. I didn’t do anything besides yoga. It was technically a Rest Day for me. I wore some of my new clothes that Michael got me for Christmas.

First he got me fancy compression tights for cycling (or running). They felt really good on my legs. They aren’t ideal for doing yoga. Instead of being beneficial it was more annoying because every pose and stretch made my tights slip down a little bit. I think they’ll be great for cycling though because I’ll be in one position the whole time. He also gave me a new cycling t-shirt. It’s purple and cute and I love it. 😉

My other gift was fancy new water bottles. These are pretty neat: they unscrew from the top AND the bottom of the bottle.

That means no more mold, gross water bottles that are impossible to clean properly. I’m excited about trying the water bottles.

Yoga Stats:

Time: 1 hour

Calories Burned: 161

Favorite Pose: Tree Pose

Yoga was good. It felt really good to stretch my hips and legs. I’d gone to my sports medicine doctor earlier in the day for a follow-up appointment. It didn’t go ideally but it wasn’t all bad news.

The good news was that I was stronger in my hips and legs than I was when I saw him in September. He also said that a lot of patients with ITB Syndrome have pain just walking so the fact that I can run on the treadmill for almost 3 miles with no pain is great! I recognize this as being a positive and that I HAVE come a long way since September.

The “bad news” was that my IT band is still really tight. He was surprised at how tight it was. That was really disappointing. I held it together, refusing to cry, refusing to let it get me down. It does depress me when I think how FAR I’ve come from that sedentary, lazy 250 pound girl to an athlete and it makes me mad that my body is not healing like I want it to!

He gave me a new exercise to try for my hips which is too difficult to try and explain in words here. I’ll try to do some research and find a video demonstration of the hip stretch because I really felt it!! Ouch! He also gave me a tiny heel lift for me shoe. He said if I want to wear the heel lift and see if it helps I can. I’m not ready to do that yet. He also recommended physical therapy (which I don’t want to do). I can’t take time off work every week for PT appointment, plus I am doing really well on my own with stretches and exercises. I will stick with that for awhile.

His final thought: if I’m going to be a runner, I should get used to pain and injuries. I don’t know how I feel about that…Part of me wonders if maybe I’m just not meant to be a runner. Maybe I’m meant to be a swimmer and a cyclist only. He said he rarely sees any cyclists with ITB problems. It may be time to think about switching sports.

His suggestion was to strengthen my glutes. He thinks the problem might be my “Tensor Fascia Lata“. Whatever the heck that is! I guess it’s the part of my butt/hip that is inflamed and in turn irritating the rest of my IT band and knee. “The Tensor fasciæ latæ is a tensor of the fascia lata; continuing its action, the oblique direction of its fibers enables it to abduct the thigh and assists with internal rotation and flexion of the hip inward (medial rotation).” Further reading told me: “The tensor fascia lata is heavily utilized in horse riding, hurdling and water skiing. Some problems that arise when this muscle is tight or shortened are pelvic imbalances that lead to pain in hips, as well as pain in the lower back and lateral area of knees.” Sounds about right…!

Doc said no hiking, no stair-master. Weights are okay and that I should strengthen my glutes. He’s leaving Oregon soon so I will have to see a new doctor for my next follow-up appointment in February.

My plan of action:

Keep stretching

Strengthen my Glutes with weights and squats

Switch to cycling when I can

I asked him, “If I quit running completely would the problem go away? And could I then do other things like hiking?” He said yes. If it came down to choosing between being able to run 3x a week or hiking…I might choose hiking. At least hiking is a hobby that Michael and I can do together and it’s something I really enjoy. This injury has taken all the fun out of running for me.

Dinner was pizza from Costco. Nothing too exciting.

I had one glass of my favorite wine and we made it an early night since we had snowshoeing to get up early for!

You can read my post about snowshoeing Mt. Hood here.

P.S. If you have an iPhone you should out the FREE app from Nike: Nike Training. It looks like it will be an excellent app for fitness in 2011!

QUESTION: If you have IT Band problems, how are you dealing with them? Have you quit something because you just weren’t healing?