I am a Cyclist/Triathlete that recently has begun to have a popping of my right knee cap when I start to ride. I just started to noticed it over the last 2 weeks. I will feel my knee cap grind in the femoral groove as it pops superiorly. The knee cap is moving/popping vertically not horizontally. This will last for the first 1-2 miles and then goes away. At first it was not painful but now it is beginning to hurt a little. I have checked my seat height over and over again to make sure that is not the problem. Does any one have any ideas? Thanks, Bob
I have a similar problem, but the "popping" I experience is located more on the side of my knee. If I press using my hand inward, it pops once, feels better and I don't have anymore pain. It doesn't seem to be as bad if I do some IT Band stretches. Buddies at the bike shop tell me my seat is too low, but I have been fitted several times. So, I don't think its the bike, I think its my knee.
If your popping has just begun and you have not had problems in the past it is probably due to muscles getting more tight. One stretch that resolves a variety of knee related issues is stretching your Rectus Femoris. It is one of the four quadricep muscles. It is the only one that attaches above the hip and inserts below the knee. When it is tight it can create increased compression on the knee cap in the groove of the femur. This in turn can create a variety of patella symptoms. So how to stretch it. Get in a half kneeling position or a kneeling lunge positition with your symptomatic knee on the ground. You can use a pillow or something soft under the knee so not create more discomfort. Then elevate your back foot of your symptomatic leg up on something 6 to 12 inches or so. The higher you put the foot the more the stretch. Keeping your tummy pulled up to keep your pelvis in a neutral position and try and fire your glute of the symptomatic leg so it is nicley puckered up. Any one of these changes in positions can increase the stretch. If you get to the glute squeezing part just try and contract relax your glute 10-20 times. Repeat this frequently throughout your day and for sure before and after riding. A. I hope this makes sense and B it resolves your symptoms. If not I would contact a PT or medical professional to help you out.
I've commented on issues such as this before as I have a background in skiing and bicycling. I see hundreds of feet a year and most skiers (99%) would benefit from using a footbed/orthotic as pronation (usually) causes the foot to roll medially and also to cause a heel out/toe in action as well. I mention this because the problem causes stress at the knee and alignment issues are problematic. Probably acute problems on the skis and chronic on the bike such as your problem. Rotational cleats are often recommended for the shoes to alleviate this problem but they address the symptom more than the problem. Getting a good footbed in there will allow your foot to 'track' throught the pedal stroke much more efficiently and with greater power. If your foot rolls inward your knee will follow and you won't have a continuous line of force going through your skeletal system from your hip through the knee and to the foot. A product on the market called ALINE is an excellent over the counter system and relatively inexpensive. They work great for many people and work nicely in ski boots and bike shoes. They have little plugs that customize them (though that has to be modified depending on the inside of your shoe). Stretching is always good but I'd say you have an alignment issue if your knee cap isn't tracking cleanly. When I used my Alines instead of my previous custom made bike orthotics I was amazed how well my foot tracked through the peddle stroke.
Go see a specialist for your knees. Also, you said you checked your seat height. Did you check it correctly, and was your saddle position (fore-aft and nose angle) checked correctly?
You shouldn't experience knee pain when cycling, even a little bit. The pain you describe could be lots of things, some major or minor. Good luck, don't depend on web based advice, ideas, or suggestions. Be good to your knees, you'll miss them when they are gone.