Tendon pain from distance unicycling with the guni

I have never had any pain on my tendons near my feet while riding long distances on unicycles, but I went for a ride on some hilly terrain with my relatively new geared 29 yesterday and kept it in high gear for most of the ride. After the 33 mile ride with a lot of ascents and descents the top of my foot where it meets the leg was killing me. It is in line with the ankle but on the front, so I am assuming I strained some kind of anterior tendon in my leg (it isnt in the back where the achilles would be, it is in the front).

I am curious as to why this pain occured and if anyone has had similar issues and how you fixed it.

My thoughts are…

  1. It could be from a seat height issue (but I don’t think this is the case).
  2. It could be from riding in high gear constantly with 125mm cranks and the force was just too much for me on the climbs and descents.

Any input or ideas?

My thoughts were in line with #2 above, but just that it was perhaps too much too fast. Maybe working up more slowly to the effort described is in order.

Maybe you did, I don’t know. :thinking:

I’m very aware of the extra force I have to apply to the pedals when riding my geared 36er. My quads are especially aware of this. It’s like riding a bike in high gear, something we unicyclists aren’t used to if we don’t ride bikes. My legs are getting used to it now…

You may be correct in assuming a seat height issue.

When I first started to ride I had my seat a bit too high and was experiencing the same pain in the same location that you are talking about. lowering the seat by just 1" made the pain vanish almost at once. I will assume that in my case my foot was having to stretch in order to maintain contact with the pedals.

Again with any new activity or change you could experience problems but if they persist then very likely something must be wrong.

Yeah I have been riding with the 36 for years and my legs are quite well adjusted to that and I never really get muscle pain, but the geared uni does work out the quads and calf muscles more I find.

I don’t mind the extra muscle work out, but I am wondering why my right tendon near my foot is acting up, it really isn’t a good sign. I guess it could be related to the extra muscle input required.

33 miles isn’t far enough for me to be affected I wouldn’t think (I guess there were a lot of climbs though). I have done 100 miles, back to back 60 mile rides, 75 miles, tours in new zealand all on the 36 and I never had any pain near my foot just minor knee pain, so this tendon pain is of concern to me.

That is really good news actually since it means the solution could be simple and others have experienced the pain before.

I will try lowering the seat even more and hope that the pain doesn’t transfer to the knees.

That’s a bummer that you have been getting some leg pain. I wouldn’t necessarily associate it with the geared uni. I actually find the opposite has been true – my geared 36’er gives me less leg pain, simply because I’m not spinning my legs as fast.


by less leg pain do you mean…less muscle pain, less knee pain, or less irratation/rubbing?

I mean less pain, everywhere. I don’t count muscle soreness as pain, as that is just muscle fatigue and is normal.

Fast spinning (17-20mph, 125mm crank, non-geared) for long periods of time cause my right leg to have some pain in the tendon (or ligaments, or something – I can’t pinpoint where it is, but the inside of my right leg upper thigh starts to hurt). That no longer happens with the guni at the same speeds.

I also get less rubbing and irritation in between my legs (but, i still do get some, so I’m going to work on seat design to solve that).


Sounds like it could be your sciatic nerve.

This could be aleviated partly by stretching your hamtrings and glutes more, as well as strengthening your lower back and abdominal muscles.

These problems usually come from those areas being really tight and/or week, but also can be from poor posture and bending at the hips instead of the knees when picking something up or puting it down (it doesn’t have to be heavy, it’s the accumulative effect).

If you position your feet on the pedals with the pedal being more towards the ball or toes of your foot that could cause more stress where you say the pain is.

Hmmm, once my pain goes away I am going to lower my seat and see what my foot position is. I have been riding the same as I have always been riding (as far as where my foot is on the pedal) but maybe the high gear is affecting it differently.

That’s interesting! I haven’t gotten the pain anymore, and generally it only happened when I spin really fast (non geared). It probably is due to not stretching enough (I “sometimes” stretch before rides, but not nearly enough). I have a fairly strong back and abs, so it probably isn’t that (I’m a 5.11 climber, which tends to use your back and abs).


The pain you describe from spinning fast happens to me when I don’t stretch. It only happens when I am spinning really fast (on the same set up you explained…ungeared coker 125mm cranks) and it actually happens in the same place on the same leg, weird. I think that it is a combination of not stretching and spinning fast with a super wide hub. My theory (based on nothing but a thought) is that a more narrow hub wouldn’t cause this pain for me since spinning would be a bit more smooth.

When that happens, I get off and stretch for a good 5 minutes and the pain goes away for the most part.

I don’t mind that so much, but this tendon pain near my foot is of a little more concern to me. I hope that it isn’t just an affect of using the high gear because then I would have to change my RTL training back to an ungeared 36. I’ll have to do some experimenting once the pain goes away.

Foot Pain

I have been suffering this pain lately on the top of my left foot. It aches at night when I am in bed. Using info from the net it appears to be tendinitis due to overuse. I only free-mount with my left foot and I have been pushing it a little on my KH29 on the hills so I think it is old body parts not being up to the strain. Sadly it probably means weeks of no riding. I’d be glad of a miracle cure.

Thanks, James, for starting this thread. And thanks, olduni, for the link about tendinitis.

Having just completed the Lobster, I was understandably itching to ride again. I hadn’t fully recovered from my achy foot. I lowered the seat 1cm and rode 6 miles and found that the pain was pretty bad afterward. If you put your hand on the top of my foot/ankle, you can actually feel a creaking as I twist my foot upwards.

So I will avoid uni’ing as much as I can for the next week or so, and then I’ll try my guni again.

Been there. Give yourself one week’s rest and keep away from cycling for another week (which I didn’t and therefore had to suffer the pain for a longer time).

Interesting. Prior to pulling out of RTL, I was training a bunch on a 29 guni. I didn’t notice the pain you described, but in the early days, I definitely noticed more knee pain than I get when riding my ungeared 36. I don’t attribute it to the training itself, as I was fresh of the 'Nam tour and in good shape. I attibute it to the more frequent, more severe back-pressure I was applying to maintain the balance envelope. I was much more herky-jerky at first, just due to unfamiliarity with the guni characteristics. The more miles I rode, the less of an issue the knee pain became.

When my geared hub broke, I had to ride ungeared for a few days (this was two weeks before RTL). I instantly started to get the same leg pain I got before due to too fast of spinning. As soon as I went back to the geared hub, I had no problems at all.

During day 1 of RTL I had some slight knee pain, which I was actually getting on the plane ride over to Canada. My knee probably swelled up slightly on the plane. I took an advil and the pain 100% went away.


And Tom, I hitched a ride back to the airport with Bruce. We missed you!