As we walked to the waiting room I asked the physical therapist, “So is the kind of pain that indicate you are doing damage or the kind of pain that indicates that something is wrong and you won’t hurt yourself any further?”
PT: “Well I cannot tell you you won’t hurt anything by racing Sunday. Common sense would say….”
And there was a chortle from a young women in the PT waiting room.
PT: “She (indicating the laughing young woman) has a problem with common sense (which made her laugh harder) just like I suspect you do to (clearly 60 minutes was enough time for her to form a solid first impression). Common sense would say don’t race. Even if you don’t hurt anything more, the length and difficulty is going to aggravate your leg.”
ME: “That’s kind of what I was thinking too.” (Big sigh).
Back up 60 minutes to when I first met my PT. We talked for awhile about what I do and what the problem was. What do you mean by you bike “a lot”? 10 hours a week. How long is this race? 70 miles. (Eyes pop) etc. Then we did some testing. And in the end we think that the problem is coming from my mechanics.
When you pedal your knees should describe a roughly circular plane. My right knee does what they call “chopping”. When I pedal the knee comes in. I have gotten a bike fit twice and the guy who did it has never been able to fix that problem. Usually you add wedges into your bike shoes and poof it goes away. But we never have been able to fix the chopping motion with wedges. The working theory is that the bad mechanics are stressing my hip and hamstring. All bike related problems start with the knees. Add to that the fact that I am, as most bikers are, quad dominant, and the problem is exacerbated.
Our plan of action is some stretching, muscle strengthening, massage and a tape job. The tape runs from the inside of my right knee across the top of my leg and then around my waste to my lower back. This is a tape method for runners who collapse their knees and restricts the inward motion of my knee. The idea is to re-train my leg to be more stable and have better mechanics.
I left the PT’s office pretty well decided that I would not race on Sunday. But I had my mtb at work and took it onto the trails behind my office. It was the best, hardest, and first real pain free ride I have had in a while. I call it the “adding insult to injury” ride.