Why do my knees hurt after spinning, but running doesn't bother them?
posted by Caz721 to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Probably too much background: I am 28 years old, female, 5'4", with no history of knee injury or knee pain, or any other injuries or joint pain. I am currently about 5 lbs over the top of the bmi range for my height, and about 10-12 lbs over my personal goal weight. At the beginning of this year, I weighed about 10 lbs more than I currently do.
I was an athletic child/teen, though never skinny, and I played basketball, soccer and softball up through the end of high school without any injuries. In college I went to the gym sporadically, but my main form of exercise was walking on campus. In grad school I got into the gym routine somewhat, but wasn't always consistent with it. I am better at making myself do cardio than strength training and was doing cardio (running or elliptical generally) a few times a week consistently, as well as periodically playing full-court basketball and work league softball.
Despite trying to maintain my activity levels, my desk job was winning with respect to weight and making me feel out of shape. In January I started working with a trainer and tried to be more consistent with hitting the gym (in addition to trying to eat better). It has mostly worked - I am much stronger than I was previously, and my running and general cardio abilities have improved.
Since January I've been doing strength training twice a week for an hour each time - lots of squats, lunges, compound lifts, plyometrics, core work, kettlebells, and some functional training. I haven't had any joint pain during the strength training sessions and my form is good (or corrected when it hasn't been). I've also been doing cardio on my own 3-5 times a week, for 35-60 minutes a session. The cardio has been running 2-3 times per week (never two days in a row), swimming, or elliptical machines. I've increased my running gradually and currently do 30-40 minutes twice a week, with 45-60 minutes once a week. My shoes are comfortable (and fitted from a specialty running store) and I stretch after all my cardio (and strength) sessions.
I've wanted to add spinning classes to my cardio choices because I've taken a handful in the past and enjoyed them, while also feeling that I got a good workout. I also read that cycling uses different muscles from running, and is generally easier on the joints. I've also toyed with the idea of getting a bike and biking instead but was planning on waiting for the spring.
However, two weeks ago I went to a spinning class (for the first time in several months) the day after I ran 4 miles. The bike was adjusted with the instructor's help and my form in the mirror looked fine. I was feeling a sort of dull pain on the side/bottom of my left knee however, pretty much from the start of the class, but I kept at it (possibly a stupid move), thinking that it would get better as the class went on. It hurt mostly while seated, as opposed to the standing portions of the class, but never went away, though it was certainly bearable. However, even worse, for the next four days, both my knees were incredibly achy. Again, it didn't stop me from doing anything, but there was constant throbbing aching (relieved temporarily while I iced them) that I'm concerned about. My mother has arthritis and bad knees, and I don't want to aggravate something now that will have life long repercussions.
The aching eventually stopped, and for the last two weeks I've avoided spinning classes, and stuck with running and elliptical and my knees have felt great. However, I'm not prepared to give up on spinning/cycling unless I'm sure that I have to. Therefore, my questions are:
1. Is there something specific about spinning (as opposed to running/elliptical) that would be hurting my knees? And more importantly, what, if anything, can I do so that it doesn't hurt?
2. If spinning is bad for my knees, does it necessarily follow that biking would be as well? I biked a LOT as a child, and never had any problems and have biked occasionally in the past few years without any problems.
Thanks for any thoughts or advice.