Reasons knee hitting top tube?

Hi all, in ep68 the knee touching the top tube was touched upon. Knee tracking and hip stability where mentioned as reasons. Does anybody have resources for further information on how to address this? Thanks

Hi @phillipdarley, welcome to the forums! Thank you for your question. This is a great one. I’m going to tag @colbypearce for his fitting expertise.

There are a few other mentions of the knee and top tube relationship in Episode 45, Jason Williams on Retül and Bike Fitting Philosophies and Episode 19, How to Pedal a Bike that may be of some help.

In terms of resources, certified bike fitters are always my first resource. Usually a movement assessment is completed as part of a bike fit to identify any weaknesses or poor movement patters that may lead to the knees hitting the top tube.

If you would like some help locating a trusted fitter in your location, send an email to info@fasttalklabs.com and I’d be happy to try and connect you with additional resources.

There is also some more information and exercises in the Knee Health Pathway that would be helpful to review.

What areas have you explored already to try and address that issue?

Coach Ryan

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Hey Ryan,

Thanks for your response. I’ll give those a listen and check out the knee health pathway.

Yes I think its a great topic. It seems to be a very common problem that I have noticed across riders of all levels and it’s something I couldn’t get an answer for when trying to Google.

In terms of bike fit. I’ve never had one. I’m getting a new gravel bike soon so will consider it for that as I’m planning multi day bike packing trips where this will manifest itself into a bigger issue. My main type if cycling is MTB where this isn’t so much a problem since I’m moving around a lot on the bike and not just sat churning away like I do on my road bike. I’m a flat pedal rider. As well as fit it sounds like I should check out orthotics - I have flat feet and use these in my non-cycling footwear.

In terms of what I’ve done to specifically address this issue. Nothing directly because until now I didn’t know what caused it. However I’ve been working on my knee tracking for squats - I have a 10 min band glute routine (monster walk, frog pumps etc) and started doing this before most long rides just to help engage different parts of my glutes but probably helps with this as well. I’m also aware of pelvic imbalances (hip hike) so do a few yoga things and stretches for that.

Cheers,
Phil

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Hi Phil,

Welcome to the rabbit hole :wink: . Medial knee tracking can be caused by many factors, and the “cause” can be one, some or all of them. The ones that come to mind at the moment:

  • lack of proper arch support
  • sub optimal pelvic alignment
  • improper force production during hip extension and / or knee extension
  • quad dominance
  • tight adductors and / or weak abductors
  • improperly positioned cleats
  • lack of arch support, or lack of arch stability in the foot [or both]
  • lack of ability to stabilize the hips during hip extension / knee extension

The monster walks are a good starting point, there are many good PT exercises out there which can make a difference in these types of scenarios. That said, don’t assume that your problem will be “fixed” by this method. It might, and it might not. You may have to dig deeper.

Also keep in mind that you can make a big impact on your cycling by simply pedaling with consciousness. if you ride indoors, use a mirror in front of your rollers [my first choice, trainer if you must] and observe and refine your knee tracking while you ride.

A cruel, but extremely effective technique that can work really well: use The World’s Sharpest Object, otherwise known as a cut zip tie, on your top tube. Cut it just long enough so that you won’t touch it with ideal knee tracking. Give yourself a few mm of error, and then go ride…a few strokes is usually all it takes. The price: blood will most likely be drawn.

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Hey Colby,

Oh I’ve been in the muscle imbalance / poor movement pattern rabbit hole for nearly 3 years now. The deeper I go the more confused I get :woozy_face: .

  • Lack of proper arch support - tick
  • sub optimal pelvic alignment - tick
  • lack of arch stability in the foot - tick
  • lack of ability to stabilize the hips during hip extension / knee extension - tick

And probably the rest. I’m currently focusing on my arch / flat feet and hip hike (pelivs alignment). Thats probably enough for now (else I’ll be doing PT exercises all day). My knee tracking has definitely improved in squats. I’ll make an effort to be more mindful when cycling but not hardcore enough for the cut zip tie :smiley: . I’ll also add some arch support to my cycling footwear.

Thanks for all the useful info. Really appreciate it!

Ah, the zip tie is an “evil” solution. I have a friend I am going to recommend it to. LOL.

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