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I understand that a seat too high can cause:

  • hips rocking trying to extend to pedals
  • pain in the back of the knee

And that a seat too low can cause:

  • can't fully extend legs
  • pain in front of the knee

Here's my problem: I'm getting a little bit of front knee pain AND my hips rocking back and forth. It suggests my seat is both too high and too low at the same time!!

Perhaps my saddle position is too far forward, making the seat feel like it's too low, therefore aggravating my knee. Should I try lowering the seat height but also moving back the seat position?

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what was edited? –  mark Aug 28 '11 at 23:54
    
Click on "2 hours ago" to see the edits. –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 29 '11 at 0:33
1  
...and your cadence? Terrain? A few words on your riding could be useful for providing hopefully helpful answers. –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Aug 29 '11 at 1:19
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

While it's true that your hips rocking indicates that the seat is too high, there is a different rule of thumb for knee pain related to the fore and aft position of the saddle. It's easy to remember:

  • If your knee hurts in front, your seat is too far forward.
  • If your knee hurts in the back, your seat is to far backward.

The most important thing to remember is that small changes can make a big difference.

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Woohoo! I moved the seat post down about 2mm and the seat backward about 4mm and the difference was huge. After 40 miles I feel fresh in the legs, no stress on my knees at all! –  mark Aug 29 '11 at 15:57
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How much extension of the leg do you get? The old way to check this (I think there are now other approaches) was to have someone hold the bike (or have it in a stand) while you sat on it and pedaled backwards with your heels on the pedals. With this setup your legs should be fully extended at the bottom of the stroke. Then, when you place the balls of your feet on the pedals, you will get the slight bend in the knee at the bottom of the stroke that is "just right".

Are you using toe clips or "clipless" pedals? Most of the time using toe clips will help knee pain somewhat (though for some people the opposite is the case).

But you should see an orthopedist and have some exercises/stretches prescribed for the knee. The proper exercises will likely provide an order of magnitude improvement in your pain situation.

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+1 on the orthopedist advice. Sadly for me, there are very little sports specialized orthopedist in my country :( –  Jahaziel Aug 29 '11 at 22:18
    
Well, try to find a medically trained therapist -- not just a chiro or massage person, but someone who knows how to deal with sports injuries. Ask at a gym, eg. –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 30 '11 at 2:01
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