How to Avoid Spring Knee

Weather is definitely on the warmer side and cyclists are starting to roll out of their pain caves in mass numbers. For those who’ve been hibernating here are a few useful tips on how to avoid Spring Knee from

By Coach John Hughes

Note the title: The Coach Injures Himself rather than The Coach Gets Injured. I gotta take responsibility for this one.

My wife and I are avid Nordic skiers and cross-country skiing in Norway has been on our bucket list for years. We spent three weeks there in February. I skied 40:10 hours in 15 days without a day off. But I’d only skied 29:10 hours in all of January. My wife is smarter and took an occasional rest day, but I wasn’t going to waste a day!

When we got home the stairs to the front door were a lot steeper than when we left! We both had tired legs.

I didn’t ski or ride for most of a week while I paid the “vacation tax” catching up on work. Then spring came to Boulder, Colorado, with temps in the 60s! I just couldn’t resist riding. And temps in the 40s in the mountains meant great spring skiing!

Now my left knee is talking to me. Not yelling at me yet, but definitely letting me know it isn’t happy with how I’ve treated it. And clearly telling me to take it easy.
Spring Knee Has Sprung

I have “spring knee.” Fortunately, it isn’t contagious or terminal!

Spring knee is an overuse injury – the result of increasing the workload too quickly. While easy to explain, once you develop spring knee it may require weeks of recovery. Unless you want to begin 2017 with a setback, the best approach is prevention.

Now spring is here — both by the equinox and by the weather — how do you avoid spring knee?
One Overload at a Time

You get fitter by asking your body to do more than it’s used to doing and giving it time to recover. It responds to this overload by getting stronger. You can overload your body in 5 ways:

  1. Increasing Frequency — Increasing the number of days that you work out
  2. Increasing Duration — How long you work out
  3. Adding Volume – How many hours you work out, the result of #1 and #2
  4. Increasing Intensity — Riding harder
  5. Changing Modalities — Changing to riding from cross-training workouts

Each of these adds stress. To be safe, change only one of them at a time. Also, do these: Over-Recover

Brent Bookwalter, who races for BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, use it for recovery. (VeloNews, June 2015) Remember that your body gets fitter if you overload it and allow it to recover.
Build Slowly


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