Joint question for all you doctors out there

I’m 38, I’m just learning and have been unicycling an average of 2 hours per week. I’ve noticed I have knee pain and I don’t know if it started before I got the unicycle or not. I can remember putting too much pressure on the pedals for the first 3 months or so, but now I’m not. Actually, when I pedal, my knees DON’T hurt, but walking up stairs is killing me. I know, then don’t walk up stairs. :slight_smile: But does anyone have an opinion as to whether the beginning stages of learning could cause this problem?

I get that too, and we are the same age… and apparently very close birthdays according to your other post.

Even if your not a Doctor, have you experienced this? DOes it eventually go away? One of the reasons I started was because this is supposedly less impact on the knees and hips than running. That and it is a lot more fun than running.:smiley:

Damn, I’m still saying I’m 38. Right. 39. sniff sniff…

I get knee pain too. I’m 49 and started riding uni about 5 months ago. It’s kind of an ache under the knee cap. I don’t experience it while I’m riding but it does show up at other times like when I have to squat down or climbing stairs or getting up out of the car. I notice it especially in my right knee which is the pedal that I brace against when free mounting. I’m hoping this clears up as my technique improves.

BTW I agree, Uni is way more fun than running.


If it makes you feel any better, I’m 25 and sometimes my knees hurt on stairs…

I am 53 and have been riding for 11 months now. I had the same phenomenon for the first 3 months or so. And then it went away, (and so did the bruised and sore ankles and thigh muscles). I always figured it was muscle/tendon strengthening and conditioning!

My knees do NOT hurt while I am riding which is one reason I keep riding. My knees do not hurt while walking quickly or hiking with a backpack. My knees do hurt when I stand around in one place for more than a few minutes or if I walk slowly (like a slow stroll while window shopping). I am 51-years-old. So, I keep unicycling and hiking. That feels good.

Another pain that I have developed the past few months is in the first joint on my right index finger. It is actually slightly swollen. I wonder if this is from catching the unicycle seat when I dismount. I have been riding unicycle for about 16 months but my finger has only been hurting a couple months.

Anybody else out there with sore hands?

Re: Joint question for all you doctors out there

Try rest, ice, moderate exercise, stretching, maybe NSAIDS
(anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen). If that helps you probably
don’t need a doctor. If you are worried enough to really want an
answer from a doctor, then see one in person - reputable docs won’t
diagnose a problem online.

I have intermittent knee pain. The last flare up was caused by a
plyometric one-footed deep knee bend initiated by a unique UPD while
riding one-footed. My pain usually goes away with rest, and is
typically prevented by regular, moderate exercise (and avoiding abuse
like the incident above). Sometimes specific exercises (like working
antagonist muscles) is helpful in preventing injury. Periodization
(varying intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise) is also a
very useful approach and can be applied in spans ranging from a few
days to a year. In other words, plan some rest time.

In general, I experience some pain learning new skills, so I plan for
some time off (not necessarily resting, but doing other skills or
activities). For example, my hamstring started hurting when I learned
to idle - partly because of too much reliance on my upper foot to
force the idling motion (better to get the timeing right and let
weight on the bottom foot drive the oscillation), and partly from
inadequate fitness in that muscle. So I took a break to ride MUni and
do other things for a couple of weeks while the hamstring recovered.

To emphasize my point about moderate exercises being really helpful.
I found that uni riding has dramatically improved a shoulder problem I
had been wrestling with. The daily flailing of my arms has helped
much more than specific exercises with weights, visits to the physical
therapist, and courses of anti-inflammatories.

So, if you’re pain is just run of the mill abuse from riding then try
the things I mentioned. If something is really wrong, it won’t get
better (or will keep getting worse) and you’ll know it is time to see
a doctor. When you do, be sure to see a sports specialist since they
are much better equipped to help you keep riding while treating your
problem (or at least get back to it as soon as practicable).


I’m not a doctor but I play one at home… I have a theory about this knee pain based on my own occasional experience with it. When I had 150mm cranks on my Muni I frequently had sore legs and joints but nothing that would qualify as pain or inflamation. Changing over to 170mm cranks really started to affect my left knee (the dominant one). I think that the larger crank size has made my pedal stroke a little bigger than it optimally would be and my knee experiences stress at the top of the stroke with larger cranks.
Typically, you’ll get sore knees on a bike if your seats too low. Large cranks on my muni have a similar effect.

I too am 38 but have no such problem, however I did have a similar problem about 10 years ago when I was doing a lot of running and (bi)cycling. A specialist decided advised me that I had roughness behind the knee cap and suggested that I have an operation to have them removed, scraped and replaced. I did not fancy this and will always seek alternative solutions when surgery is mentioned. An osteopath and keen sportsman reconed it was nothing more than aggrivated tendons and suggested up use a smaller gear and up my cadence, I fitted a cycle computer and upped my pedal speed from about 50 rpm to 100 rpm and the problem went away.

Since then I have read ‘Healing Back Pain’ by Dr John Sarno, who has an interesting diagnosis for many pains that people experience, something called TMS which basicly states that it is a trick of the mind. If you regularly suffer from some sort of pain/discomfort I recommend you read this book, it really does work. The fundametal message is to tell your brain to stop giving this c*** and continue doing with your activity (unicycling). I have used his techniques to great effect and found that what appeared to be a genuine injury just disappeared.

I am sure a number of you will now have me labelled as a weirdo, but hey I am a unicyclist so I am used to people thinking I have a screw loose.:wink:

um, sorry, was that c*** word in your post c r a p?

Just making sure. All of this is very informative and helpful, thanks all.

I’m not a doctor, but I have a picture of a nurse in my avatar…

I would say if you are in your late 30s and starting to have knee pain, you are fortunate. It could have started many years earlier. Informally from folks in this age bracket I talk with, there is a high correlation between knee injuries earlier in life, and pain in the 30s. I injured both my knees in my 20s, and have had pain and problems ever since. The knee tops my list for Worst Designed Body Part.

The kind of knee pain I get from riding has in general been less that what I get from other sports I do, such as skiing. The pain varies widely, however, depending on the kind of riding I’ve done. In general, it rarely hurts while I’m riding. Just after. Also in general, extended downhill riding is what causes me the greatest pain. In the case of riding downhill when I have to put resistance against the pedals, my above comments about it only hurting later don’t apply. It hurts right then, and often to the point it limits my downhill ability. I’ll get a stabbing pain, which tells the muscles to shut down, which then leads to me pedaling faster and therefore having to exert more resistance to slow down, and the cycle builds until I bail. I’m highly reliant on my brake for descents, both on muni and coker.

All that said, I still think riding is helpful to me. My leg strength and quads have improved significantly, which helps reduce another problem I’ve had…the tendency of my knee (patella) to jump out of socket. That usually only leads to stretched, not torn, ligaments, but it sure hurts when it happens as well as being gross to observe.

Thanks everyone for the insightful responses. I have learned a few things.

Major Clangor… If your weird so am I. I have had several serious neck injuries and dealt with pain from those injuries for many years. Then I read Sarno’s book. Back pain is rarely an issue. I do occasionally need to remind myself of his advice.

For the knees, I guess I should reread the book.:smiley: I have had it on the shelf in my library for years. Guess it is time to blow the dust off.

The pain I have is nothing debilitating. More of an irritation and an awareness that the knee hurts usually when climbing stairs. I wasn’t particularly concerned, just curious if more riding seemed to help. I had it when I first started riding, and as I recall it went away. Then I got a Coker and have taken a few longer rides lately. The pain seemed to be more pronounced since then.

I guess I will spend some time reading tonight. Right after my ride.

Knee pain gone

I also had the pain in the knee problem. Mine started when my seat had twisted to the left after a MUNI UPD. I was trying to compensate for the uni wanting to turn right. I was torquing my knee with every pedal stroke. The worse part of this was that I could feel that it was hurting and I kept on riding.

Then I went for a street uni ride while walking my dog on an extender leash. He was to my left and slightly behind. I was again torquing my knee on every stroke trying to maintain a straight ride.

I mentioned my knee hurting to “Fontiminal” in an e-mail. He also experienced the pain. His suggestion that worked for him was to work on freemounting on both the left and right side.

I started working on freemounting with the other leg,
I can now freemount on both sides now, and for whatever reason, my knee pain has pretty much disappeared.

The short time that I have devoted to working the weak side has also improved my riding ability quite a bit. Whether or not the freemount practice helped the pain, I don’t know, but my knee pain is gone and I can ride better.

Make sure your seat is at a comfortable height. I got tendonitis in my knees from riding with the seat too low. For the next year, every time I bent my knees, they would pop and crackle.

I did lower my seat a little to help me with freemounting. I can freemount a higher percentage of the time now, but I don’t like the way it feels riding. I’ll change it back…

Yes, the C*** word was c r a p, thought I would try and be polite :roll_eyes:

Good to hear his techniques worked for you bugman, I am amazed at some of the people I know of who have been cured after years of disabilitating injuries simply by reading his book. My new philosophy is think Xtreme and you can do Xtreme, well perhaps with a bit more practice.:smiley:

I need to purchase a fresh copy after having given my copy to a doctor whilst on holiday. Quite unusual to find a Doctor who is open minded enough to want to read about TMS.