Knee Pain on Trainer

On week 2 of mid volume base and I’ve got some slight knee pain on the right side. This has only shown up riding the trainer. Any ideas on what would cause this?

I was having similar issues and I talked to my trainer at the gym about it. He suggested rolling to loosen my IT band (Iliotibial band syndrome). It solved the problem for me.
I also remember reading somewhere that saddle height could cause it too…


I get knee pain sometimes on and off the trainer, but much more frequently on the trainer.

One thing I’ve found is that it’s easy for me to adopt a different position on the trainer than on the road, and this leads to worse pedaling mechanics.

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I’ll have to look into that. I stretch daily but not that specifically. I would think if it was Saddle height I would have the same problem on the road. But this is trainer specific.

I’m used to putting in the hours of training, but not this intensity. So I wonder if just the harder effort is effecting it as well.

Same bike on the trainer as on the road?

Yes same bike.


I think many get knee pain because a bike on a trainer is has a much more rigid platform…meaning it doesn’t rock side to side like when you are out on the road which could cause more strain on the knees. I recently started using a rocker plate, not for knee issues but more to reduce saddle pressure.


Check out this thread about rocker plates. I’m thinking about building one myself.


My wife doesn’t ride outdoors, just on the trainer. A few weeks after she started she started to get some knee pain. We went in to our LBS and they shifted her cleats (forward a bit I think). That fixed it for her.

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This is a key point. The constant loading and possibly different inertia (flywheel vs outside mass) could be leading to more tissue strain.

And as mentioned, we’ve had some people find relief via rocker plates. It’s not a leading solution, but it does help in some cases.


Thanks for the reply. I’m going to see how this week goes and drop the intensity if need be. It really started to show up on day 4, week 1, on Reinstein, which is a pretty good effort.

Yeah decided bail on Carter today. Knee pain just started to creep back. Guess I will take some time off and try to let it heal up. So frustrating.

Well I took 2 weeks off to recover. Did a short ride and started feeling a little pain. Adjusted my saddle height up a little. And also noticed I was in a slight different position on the bike than normal. So I made sure I was riding in the same position as on the road. Felt pretty decent after these adjustment. Going to try and ride a little harder this week and see if that resolved the issue.

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Well so far, so good. I removed the block under the front wheel. I feel like this forces me to stay in a more aero position like on the road. Well its working so far. Ramping the workouts back up and feeling good. No knee pain.


All better?

Yes, no more knee pain. Just finishing up SSBII mid volume this week. And feeling stronger than ever.


Interesting that you think upper body position on the bike was the main thing. I’m exactly where you were in Dec 2018. I’m in the second week of MV SB1 and having some right-hand knee problems. I don’t really do much road riding, but when I do my knee certainly doesn’t act up as quickly as it does on the turbo.

I spend 90% of my time on the turbo sat upright, not even touching the bars, so based on your experience I wonder if that could be the issue.

I tried raising my saddle 2-3 mm the other day, which didn’t seem to make a difference. I also tried rotating that cleat a bit more (and adding a couple of pedal spacers so my heel still clears the crankarm, and that didn’t really help either. My right foot toes out quite a bit when I walk - I remember my dad used to always tell me off for it when I was a kid, but 30 years on it’s still the same.

Since I’m predominantly a mountain biker (and that’s what I’m training for) and I ride flat pedals when I’m MTBing, I’m tempted to put flat pedals and shoes on tonight and see how I get on…

I had similar issues on my trainer, my left knee was giving me problems but only on the trainer. I think a lot of it has to do with the non-stop pedaling.

For me, it was a fit problem. I needed insoles on my feet, and my saddle was too far forward. I also found out my left leg was shorter than my right, which caused some issues. I can see my legs moving much straighter through my pedal stroke now. I was annoyed because I had just gotten a fit, but just by a bad fitter.

I know where the knee pain is located can tell you a lot. Good luck, knee problems suck.


I’ve got a theory about the trainer, especially for MTBers. Our bike fits aren’t as good. We also normally switch up our pedalling and do a lot more standing and coasting than on the trainer. So in 1 hour we are actually doing a lot more volume than we realize.

My non-medical speculation - If you ride flat pedals you actually need a slightly lower seat for all this pedalling volume. That is because we don’t have pedal float. We can adjust our feet, but it’s not the same as the tibia rotating internally as it should on every rotation. The tibia only rotates inward on the last portion of knee straightening. So with flat pedals if you keep your seat a little lower and your knee bent to 25 degrees from straight you can avoid stressing the knee (popliteus muscle) on every rotation. Haven’t seen anyone say this explicitly, but I’m just putting 2 and 2 together after getting some rear knee pain, doing some reading, and lowering my own seat a couple cm.

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