Unexplained knee niggling without any changes

Hello everyone,

so during my weekend long rides i’ve started to feel a niggle in both my knees.
Saturday i had a 120km ride in zone2 with no climbs and easy pace. Sunday i did another 100km of zone2 with same intensity and no climbs.
At the end of the sunday ride i started to feel a niggle in both of my knee even without pushing hard on the pedals. I’m not sure what to think about it!!

I’m used to do 400km a week with long rides on the weekends also with lots of climing. I had no changes in my bike setup. I rode through all summer with no issues with an average of 2000km a month with long and hilly routes and big alpine climbs.

The only difference is that I came back from a week of no riding due to covid and I’ve done maybe 4 short 30km rides with my mtb (which has a different positioning).

Riding 400km a week i dont think stopping for a little could’ve had such an impact.
Also it was my first ride with long bibshorts and i’m starting to think that they were to tight and compressed to much my knees…but i used the same bibshorts last winter with no issues.

Any suggestions?

Thanks to all

Where on your knee? Outside/lateral? Inside/medial? top of knee cap or bottom of knee cap? Sore vs sharp pain. We’d be able to give some things to look at if you are able to give some more details.

I recently had something similar, lateral pain out of no where. For me, I just realized I had fallen a bit more lax in my mobility work than I thought I had and it caused tightness, causing poor pedaling form. With your rest, and riding a different bike it could be something very similar that will fix it self with some streching/rolling and easy spinning. That said never push an injury. If it hurts stop. If its just that you are more “aware” of that area, just be weary.

Some general things to look at would be if your seatpost dropped a bit with out you knowing, cleat shifted or is very worn, saddle tilt changed a bit ect.

the niggle was on the patella at the inside pointy part. It was rather a superficial bothering. Not any sort of pain. I tought of muscle tightness and did some roll, stretch and massage.
Checked cleats, seatpost and saddle but all in line.

I read an article about Prepatellar Friction Syndrome which lead me to think about the bibshort to tight.

When I used to do mileage like that, I used to only get niggles when I backed off. In my non expert thinking on hindsight it was maybe just my body taking the chance to rebuild from all that overuse (sensitive scaffolding) or maybe things that were overly tight from overuse just relaxing and moving things in the knee.

My physio would say it could be covid. It seems to amp-up the central nervous system, which is also responsible for pain perception. Niggles that might previously have been dismissed by the CNS as ‘unimportant, no need to signal it’ now could be ‘hey, somethings going on here!’. He had noticed this phenomena with his patients after covid.

He said it goes away with time, if ypu don’t fixate on it. This sends the message to CNS to chill a bit.

I’ve gone through a similar issue issues myself (my CNS tends to be overly vigilant, covid or not, due to another condition). If I were you and it’s truly just a niggle, I’d do my best to ignore it for a few weeks and see what happens.

Thank you. I was thinking about doing so by doing lots of 1-2hour of z2 rides and see what happens and since winter is here i’ll add some off the bike strenght training. Lets see what happens.

1 Like

And progressive loading via strength work is super helpful if it’s a mild tendon issue.

I have had exactly the same issue. Long story short I reduced my training volume substantially for about 12-18 months from a consistent average of 10hours a week to probably more like an inconsistent 4-5 hours a week (was COVID times so lockdowns and no racing killed my motivation).

I noticed coming back a few months ago that my knees had a slight niggle/pain on the front of the patella almost exactly like you describe. I also now have a 2-3% L/R imbalance since coming back and I can feel my left leg is definitely slightly weaker. Its very strange, since I started training 5-6 years ago I haven’t really experienced anything like it.

The niggle seems to be less and less as I have been getting back into training but it hasn’t disappeared completely, is worse in my left leg. I have been wondering recently if its simply an imbalance due to time off the bike and will come good on its own or if it requires some sort of intervention.