Knee trajectory while pedaling

Hey there,
I noticed that the trajectory of my left knee is a bit…unstraight.

( see photorealistic drawing below )

This is a front view.
My right knee is not perfectly straight, but nothing significant.
On the other hand, my left knee starts to go outside on the up stroke, and inside in the down stroke.
Though it gets messier the more watts I produce.
If I go harder, the pattern at that top gets more chaotic, like my knee doesn’t know where to go before the down stroke.

Any ideas on what kind of problem would cause this?
Cleat position? Saddle position? Hips imbalance?

I plan to go do a bike fit if it becomes a problem.

PS : I’ve been cycling for 4 years with no problem, 2 years and a half with my current bike, but got left knee problems the last two months ( patella tendon inflamation, but it’s healed and I don’t feel pain anymore )
Maybe the pain and this problem are linked

  • All of the above, and add in stuff like prior injuries, general range of motion issues, physical abnormalities or asymmetries, and the list goes on.
  • That is all you can really do. It’s impossible to give any meaningful guidance with so little info, especially not seeing you actively on the bike.

Generally speaking, people will have a potential of having these types of “imperfections” but may well be getting along fine in spite of them. As a fitter I might see something like that and the main question to start with is “Is this really a problem?”.

In the spirit of the Do no harm ethos, I tend to only tackle stuff like this if I feel it is linked to an actual pain, injury, or comfort issue presented by the rider. That in mind, unless you know you are having issues, I sure wouldn’t suggest chasing it as an issue on your own. If you end up with a fit session for any reason, certainly mention and discuss it with them. Then you two can decide how to address it, if you do at all.

I have a question on the flip side of this. When the knee focus drills happen during workouts, I can never see any deviation. I’m hardly an experienced cyclist. How likely is it that I’m just naturally good on this metric? (And I definitely have lots of room in terms of pedaling in circles. Have seen modest improvement in kick-pull drills.)

  • “good” is not the term I would use. You may benefit from more symmetry and general alignment that leads to the prototypical “pistons motion” of your knees with not “extra focus or work”.

  • To be honest, other than people with real physical issues that lead to pain or discomfort, I tend to ignore this type of drill. It is more about your body than anything and I don’t see much to gain from “working on knee motion” in particular for most people.

  • This is quite a different drill and one that I think can actually be worth the focus and lead to real benefit over time. This is far more about muscle timing and fluidity that can lead to better power production and efficiency.

Thanks for the very detailed answer :pray:

I too tend to not focus on this kind of stuff if there’s no problem but now that I’ve noticed that, I can’t help to link it with my recent knee problem and the feel I have that my left knee is a bit weaker.

I’m currently working with a professional, working on hip stability and left leg strengthening so we’ll see how it goes ! Maybe it will help with this too.

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That sounds great. I do think that a physio direction is the more appropriate place to look for some of these issues. It is sure possible to play with cleat position (lateral in particular), shoe/cleat varus/valgus wedges, and arch support. Those are typical points of interest in a fit, that can play into the knee motion.

Considering you think there was a chance of a link to the recent knee issue, I’d say it may well be worth a fit after the physio assessment & any related work. I think you have a good direction at this time :smiley:

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Is it a consistent “wobble” or does it only present intermittently?

I have an intermittent “wobble” on my right knee, but 90% of the time it’s perfect. Left is solid always. I suspect it happens when my sit bones are shifted slightly off-center or forward on the saddle. I also had a severe lower leg injury on my right leg that still limits ankle mobility, and it’s all connected, so that could be it too… but honestly I don’t pay that much attention to it.

I have no issue with it, no pain, so I don’t worry about it at all. I’d recommend the same for you if it’s intermittent and/or not causing you any other issue.

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When I did a bike fit, I also had a little left/right movement in one knee. What solved it for me were insoles. Also, I had an immediate feeling that my feet were much more stable while pedaling.

Some people have flat feet, so most shoes come with little support under the arc of the foot so that it is not totally uncomfortable for some. But if your feet aren’t flat, you can benefit from using insoles that provide a bit more support and a stable platform as you press down on the pedals.

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It’s been a while I’ve been wanting to get a better cleat position, but it’s a complicated subject and hard to get right i feel like. So i’ve been a bit lazy about it.
I’ll have to mention it if I get a bike fit.

It’s a consistent wobble, it’s always there but gets worse as I put more power, especially on steep climbs where I stay seated.

Sometimes I feel like I have more weight on one side, and I have a very poor ankle mobility ( I’m working on it though ) so it may be worth it to check if those are possible causes.

I have pretty flat feet, but i also have old budget cycling shoes and I want to buy new ones, so I might take this into consideration. Thanks :+1: