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Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?



 
 
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  #1  
Old January 8th 09, 02:22 AM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
natosha
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


Hello,

I am having a couple of really frustrating problems that I would like
some advice on.

I am trying to learn to unicycle on a Nimbus 24" with 125mm cranks. I
have had 7 practice sessions now, each of which ranges from about 45 to
90 minutes long, with most of them being about 1 hour long. I can mount
OK as long as I have someone or something on one side of me to hold
onto. Once mounted, if I am touching my husband's hand lightly -- only
our fingertips touching (so lightly that he couldn't actually provide
any physical support if he wanted to) -- I can ride as far as I want to,
including wobbling around turns, until my legs get tired. If I push off
on my own (without him walking next to me), or let go of his hand
completely, I will either fall immediately, or usually only get in 2-5
revolutions before I fall. Has anyone experienced a similar "mental
block" when learning? It's really frustrating because 1) it is
beginning to feel like my progress is very, very slow, and 2) I know
that I *can* do it, I just somehow panic when I don't have
anyone/anything beside me.

Regarding the sore knees: After doing some searching, I have come to
the conclusion that this is a fairly common problem, but I have tried
all of the suggestions that I found and I am still having no luck.
Around my second practice I noticed that my knees were sore. This has
really only continued to get worse. Now when I practice unicycling,
they are so sore that I actually have trouble walking up and down stairs
the next day! The residual soreness lasts for at least 2-3 days
afterwards! This is also slowing down my progress because I can only
practice 2-3 times a week. I don't have any pre-existing knee problems
and I have run on a regular basis (an average of about 10 miles a week)
for some time now without having any knee pain. I know a common
suggestion is to raise the seat, but my seat is already as high as I can
get it and still have my legs slightly bent when the pedals are all the
way down. I'm not sure what else to try? Would longer cranks help? I
try putting as much of my weight on the seat as I can, but I am still
learning so I don't have very good control and I end up relying on my
legs a lot for helping me correct and stay balanced.

I would appreciate any advice whatsoever -- I'm really frustrated!

Cheers


--
natosha
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  #2  
Old January 8th 09, 03:07 AM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
saskatchewanian
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


The only advice I have for people with mental blocks is... drink two
beer. Just enough to help loosen those mental blocks without severely
affecting your coordination or balance, then try letting go of your
husbands hand.

As for the knees that sounds very familiar. When I was training for RTL
(unicycle race) I my knees started to get really sore and it got to the
point that I not only could not ride but run or even walk without severe
pain. 6 weeks and as many doctors latter I finally met a doc that took
me seriously and knew what he was talking about.

He told me I had a muscle imbalance in my quads. He said that it was a
common imbalance for both cyclists and runners. I was unicycling
100-150km per week and running 10-20.

To correct it he told me to sit in a chair and just raise my foot
flexing the knee ten times in a row three times a day. Two days latter I
was walking without pain for the first time in over a month and four
days latter I was running and riding pain free.

Your knee problems may not be the same as mine but that very simple
exercise did wonders for me.


Welcome to the forums and keep us updated on your progress!

ERIC


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  #3  
Old January 8th 09, 05:04 AM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
munimutant
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


the mental block, GET MAD! Tell yourself you WANT to do this. You
are GOING to do this. Look at a spot in the road 20 feet ahead and RIDE
to it with determination. It sounds like you are on the cusp of a
breakthrough and it's time to take charge and show that pesky mental
block who's boss. At least this worked for me. Everyone's different, but
might be worth a shot!

Saskatchewan's comments knee pain sound right on. Are you
stretching your quads too? I think that would help. Also you are
probably very tense while riding and as you get better and relax, the
pain will subside. Good luck and have fun!


--
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  #4  
Old January 8th 09, 07:06 AM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
McNerdius[_2_]
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


I second saskatchewanian's words on the beers. Helps great to get past
those mental blocks. As for the knee pain... an informative page is:
http://www.drpribut.com/sports/spknees.html

I've added various stretches to my routine (and now saskatchewanian's
tip) and have been increasing duration and intensity of practice (not
recommended... but...) and the pain/discomfort has been decreasing a
bit each day. I'm sure if i were to take it easy on the uni and just
stretch a wee bit things would be in tip top shape ...

Importantly though, stretch ! And keep the quads in balance !

And on to my last little rant... I'm still learning BUT... I'm going
to leave out all but the most important details here... DO NOT GIVE UP.
A LOT of people certainly have learned on 24" unis. A LOT of 24" unis
certainly have 125mm cranks. So don't let what i'm about to say
discourage further attempts. My first uni was a 24 with 150mm cranks.
2 years i tried on this thing... i had VERY similar experiences to what
you are describing. Then i got a 20." It's been less than a month now
and i'm a few hours away from skill level one. i am almost certainly
less fit than you. Ultimately, smaller cranks will make things a tad
easier for you, albeit a tad harder on your knees. a smaller wheel with
125s or proportionately smaller cranks will make a world of difference
in learning speed. I know it has for me. Sorry to ramble, but 24 vs 20
is an issue i will always have a bit of passion for.


--
McNerdius

'progress-journal-bloggamajiggy' (mcnerdius.blogspot.com)
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  #5  
Old January 8th 09, 09:59 AM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
Naomi
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


Been said many times before but: In my experience many novices THINK
they have much of their weight on the seat. In reality they still have
a lot of weight on the pedals, meaning the right leg is constantly
fighting against the left. The workload on the legs can thus be many
times higher than that for an experienced rider.
You can tell the difference the first time you get the weight right.
It feels very different. Somehow "floaty". Effortless on smooth level
ground.

Nao


--
Naomi

The dress in which I unicycled was not THAT short, but in retrospect, I
think that maybe the blue one would have been more appropriate to the
terrain.
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  #6  
Old January 8th 09, 11:20 AM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
wobbling bear
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


mental block: I know that! cannot get rid of it after 6 years
unicycling. But I now practice rough terrain unicycling with pretty
difficult sections. So I live with it.

knee pain: different reasons possible. One I noticed is too many
"transversal" efforts to keep balance. So work on "straight" pedaling
and have someone spot and correct the alignment of legs, knee, pedals
.... try to pedal more quickly first (" ok the death dive now!") and
later slow down.


--
wobbling bear

One Wheel : bear necessity
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  #7  
Old January 8th 09, 05:31 PM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
scott ttocs
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


I just taught someone to ride who had the mental block problem. We just
went the route you are already on--hold onto someone's arm as you ride
around, and then gradually lighten the pressure. At some point we got
to one finger pressure on my wrist, and then he would just let go and
ride. When he made the transition is was dramatic--almost immediately
he could ride 50 M. Do not hold hands, but rather put your hand or
finger on your Husband's wrist so that you can let go at any time.

We used the same unicycle, and in my experience a comfortable riding
pace is a FAST walk, not a slow walk. You may be going too
slow--Unicycling is easier if you get up a little speed. A comfortable
pace for a 24" Nimbus with 125 mm cranks is a slow jog.

Regarding your poor knees: have you ridden a bike recently? I had not
and found that my legs were very sore as a started unicycling. It takes
some leg muscles to do it, and you may be building them up. However,
you are probably expending 10 times more force than you need to in your
rides. If you are going slow and you are nervous, there is a tendency
to tighten up your legs. Then you are riding the unicycle by using
large opposing force with each leg. You will get over it, but I do not
know any shortcuts. Here are some (standard) suggestions: Relax and put
your weight on the seat. Try standing on the pedals and then settling
into the seat and lifting up your feet until they are barely touching
the pedals to get a sense of the difference. You will need to put force
on the pedals, but it is much less than you think.

Good luck with your practice. Keep trying and do not be too hard on
yourself. Just get out and try it a bit every day (30 min? 20 min?)
and try to have fun riding around with your helper. Practice rocking
and turning. All of these thing will increase your balance and make the
riding easier.


--
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  #8  
Old January 8th 09, 05:43 PM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
GearQueen
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


I can relate to all your knee problems and pains. I have horrible
knees, but have found some things that help. Also I'm 50 now, and have
just started learning to ride the uni a couple of months ago. So I know
the mental thing you are talking about. So I throw out my opinion for
both things.

I think women are a bit more cautious than men, and our brains want to
understand what is going to happen. We are more cautious about getting
hurt. My partner is also learning with me, but what I've found, is that
I went for it way before she did. I'm just a bit more aggressive than
she is. She is at the stage you are talking about. If I walk along
side her, she can ride down the street, barely touching my fingers, for
quite a ways. But as soon as she is not touching, she does not make it
very far. What I see, when I'm walking along side her, is that she is
not doing a very smooth pedal stroke, almost a stop and start. So when
I coach her to smooth it out, and speed up a bit, she does much better,
and can ride for a ways on her own.

I have noticed this for myself too, that when my stroke gets a bit
choppy, that I'm putting too much weight on the pedals, and to smooth it
out, you have to sit in the seat more. So if have your helper and are
going along, barely touching fingers, try to smooth out your stroke and
go just a bit faster....yes a bit of speed is your friend. you should
sit in the seat a bit more and may help your knees.

You might try shorter sessions, say no more than 30 minutes, and maybe
you can get more days in.

I agree with Saskatchewanian about the imbalance of muscles. I also
would add alignment. I found a book called Pain Free, and it changed
everything for me. It suggested to look at your own alignment, in front
of a mirror, and then work on the areas that need help. Some of my
issues were, from years of basketball and running. My hips tilt back
badly, which affected my knees, and my lower back. So now I do simple
exersizes and stretches that help to align me better. I can't run much
any more, but I do walk alot, and I focus on the alignment, of my hips,
and the stride of my foot, and most of the time, I do not have pain.
Which I consider pretty good, since my doc said 5 years ago, that I
would need a knee replacement (which I do not want to do). I have had
an acl repair, and both of my knees scoped. I was lucky to have the doc
video the scope, so I could see the inside of my knee, which was very
mushy, dull and rough. The good news is that I'm still doing the
sports I love. They all make me stiff and sore, but isn't that true for
anybody that's 50 and active?

Make sure you go see a good sports doctor. Ortho's mainly want to do
surgery and give you new parts. Don't get me wrong....I'm grateful for
what they do, and I needed to have mine cleaned out badly. If I hadn't,
I'd probably have new knees right now. but with getting the scope, and
finding balancing excersizes, I do ok.

I hope you find some relief for your knees, just keep searching, try
the Pain Free book. Keep trying the uni, you just need to get your
mind to a safe place, and you will push through it and ride alone,
further and further. I can now ride up and down the sidewalk, over lump
and bumps. It just takes practice, so your mind and muscles know what
to do. And you no longer have that split second of I might fall.
Which usually makes you stop.

Good luck and keep at it.


--
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  #9  
Old January 8th 09, 06:37 PM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
olduniman
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


Your practice sessions of one hour or more sound rather long for a
beginner. There is a lot of tension associated with unicycling at the
start so you just may be pushing too hard. I had a lot of trouble with
knee pain early on, but raising the seat to the proper height made a big
difference. If you pedal standing up as much as possible, (that is, no
weight on the seat) and there is more than an inch or two of "crotch
clearance" your seat is probably too low. Do you need a longer seat
post?

I participated in a PhD student's physio research and came away with a
side-lying leg lift exercise I do three times a week. No knee pain since
then. There are lots of knee exercises on the net.

http://tinyurl.com/a3nes2

Regarding the mental block. My spouse who has 40+ years on you has a
similar problem. She can ride 200 ft beside a railing without touching
it but will not (cannot) get herself to go out into the abyss as she
calls it. When she rides beside me she uses me for support instead of
twisting the uni to ride into the direction she is falling. We are still
working on it after two years, but only ride every couple of weeks.
She'll beat it someday and so will you if you don't give up.


--
olduniman

+++++++++
Bob
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  #10  
Old January 8th 09, 06:48 PM posted to rec.sport.unicycling
johnfoss
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Default Frustrations Learning to Ride: Mental Block and *Really* Sore Knees?


natosha;1166572 wrote:
Has anyone experienced a similar "mental block" when learning?


Yes, pretty much everyone I've ever really watched learning to ride. You
are at the cusp. But telling you this probably doesn't help. You already
know you can ride, because you're doing it with almost no assistance. So
you know the assistance you're getting is mental. Time to gut it out.

The advice above is all good (with some reservation on the "two beers"
thing), especially from GearQueen. First a bit more on the riding away,
then on to the knees. Like GearQueen said, work on a smooth pedaling
stroke. Also stick with relatively smooth places until you get going on
your own. If it's tilted, head downhill.

Next, don't take things too seriously. You're learning to ride a
unicycle afterall, not studying to cure cancer. As adults we sometimes
tend to overthink things, which usually backfires when learning to ride
a unicycle. There's too much to understand, and it gets in the way of
letting your body "feel" what works to keep you going. So stop thinking
and start feeling. Pretend you're an 8-year old. What would she do? Ride
until she falls and then go again. If anything, analyze which way or why
you fell, and try to do it a little different next time.

Also, don't be afraid to fall down. Falling down is part of nearly
every sport. If you're afraid of getting hurt, it could be causing you
to tense up. So do some falls on purpose. If you "fall off" properly,
usually you'll just end up on your feet, holding the unicycle. But
sometimes you'll fall down. Getting used to doing this will get your
body familiar with how to land, and you'll be less worried about doing
it next time. So do some practice falls. Pad up if you want, it makes
falling less stressful for us adults.

Lastly the knees. Is the pain in you knee joint, or above your knees in
the front? That's where I got sore in my early days of unicycling. Not
the joint but in the lower end of my quadriceps (quads). Those are your
main unicycling muscles. If they're sore now it's because you're too
tense. As mentioned above, you probably are not sitting down as much as
you think. Once you start riding on your own you'll be able to start
relaxing, but it takes a little while at first. Until then, if you keep
staying sore, do shorter practice sessions. Lighten things up and have
fun. If it stops being fun, drop it until the next day, or the next time
you feel like it.

BTW, if the pain you're feeling seems to be inside your knee joint, it
may be something a doctor should look at it. Unicycling is not hard on
the joints (unless you're riding lots and lots of miles a day) so you
may have other issues there.

Which is not giving up. It took me about six weeks to "sort of" learn
to ride, with many times giving up along the way. Of course my unicycle
was partly to blame, a 16" hard plastic tire, no bearings, etc. I know I
would have learned much faster on a "real" unicycle with a 24" wheel so
don't let anyone tell you your wheel size is a problem. It's not. Think
of all the little kids out there riding around on unicycles. If they can
do it, so can you. That's all you really need to know. The rest is just
sticking with it.

And having fun.


--
johnfoss

John Foss
Email: "jfoss" at "unicycling.com" -- www.unicycling.com
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