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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m curious if this is a widespread phenomena among cyclists. We can get our legs so cycling fit that it takes a very hard ride for us to feel it in our legs the next day. But in my experience and in a couple other cyclists I’ve discussed this with, when another activity is engaged in that works the leg muscles in the opposite way such as hiking downhill, it doesn’t take much to leave our legs really hurting the next day.

I live on a hill and spent hours doing yard work going up and down the hill and bending repeatedly to pick up yard debris. Both times I did this, once at the end of March, and again this past Saturday have left me practically debilitated. I did go cycling yesterday (Sunday) and didn’t notice it that much when on the bike other than a little bit when standing. I was hoping the ride would loosen my legs up but I feel even more sore today than yesterday.

A cyclist friend of mine who similarly suffered from this was able to overcome it after hiking every weekend for several months. He can now hike and cycle without suffering DOMS. Has anyone else embarked on a similar cross training program? My cross training has involved mainly upper body strength training. I’ll occasionally mix in some short 1 or 2 minute runs but on flat ground.

I almost never hike anymore because of knowing this will be the result. I don’t think walking on relatively flat ground causes it but anything with downhill or lots of bending brings it on.

It’s frustrating to have excellent [cycling] fitness but be so susceptible to this problem. I’m 44 now but the first time this happened was back in 2003 a few years after I started cycling. I hiked down to near the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up on my first day of vacation in Arizona. I was hobbling for the rest of the week. I’m thinking cycling actually makes it worse than if a person was completely unfit.

Any insight into ways to overcome this would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

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I’m curious if this is a widespread phenomena among cyclists. We can get our legs so cycling fit that it takes a very hard ride for us to feel it in our legs the next day. But in my experience and in a couple other cyclists I’ve discussed this with, when another activity is engaged in that works the leg muscles in the opposite way such as hiking downhill, it doesn’t take much to leave our legs really hurting the next day.

I live on a hill and spent hours doing yard work going up and down the hill and bending repeatedly to pick up yard debris. Both times I did this, once at the end of March, and again this past Saturday have left me practically debilitated. I did go cycling yesterday (Sunday) and didn’t notice it that much when on the bike other than a little bit when standing. I was hoping the ride would loosen my legs up but I feel even more sore today than yesterday.

A cyclist friend of mine who similarly suffered from this was able to overcome it after hiking every weekend for several months. He can now hike and cycle without suffering DOMS. Has anyone else embarked on a similar cross training program? My cross training has involved mainly upper body strength training. I’ll occasionally mix in some short 1 or 2 minute runs but on flat ground.

I almost never hike anymore because of knowing this will be the result. I don’t think walking on relatively flat ground causes it but anything with downhill or lots of bending brings it on.

It’s frustrating to have excellent [cycling] fitness but be so susceptible to this problem. I’m 44 now but the first time this happened was back in 2003 a few years after I started cycling. I hiked down to near the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up on my first day of vacation in Arizona. I was hobbling for the rest of the week. I’m thinking cycling actually makes it worse than if a person was completely unfit.

Any insight into ways to overcome this would be appreciated. Thanks.
At 44, I'd consider this a result of over specialization. Your legs are superbly conditioned to work the crank sitting on a bike, but they aren't fit for walking.

I had this same problem a few years ago. I was riding but not walking. I had to take regular walks to strengthen the legs for weight bearing. After a few years I can now walk with equal efficiency as biking. In fact walking has made the legs stronger, owing to its weight bearing capability.
 

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At 44, I'd consider this a result of over specialization. Your legs are superbly conditioned to work the crank sitting on a bike, but they aren't fit for walking.

I had this same problem a few years ago. I was riding but not walking. I had to take regular walks to strengthen the legs for weight bearing. After a few years I can now walk with equal efficiency as biking. In fact walking has made the legs stronger, owing to its weight bearing capability.

I can definitely identify with this. I went on an 8 mile hike a few weeks ago and was really sore for the next couple of days. I never get sore after cycling. I would have thought two weeks of xc skiing during the winter as well as my daily 2 miles commuting walking would keep me in weight bearing shape, but apparently not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
At 44, I'd consider this a result of over specialization. Your legs are superbly conditioned to work the crank sitting on a bike, but they aren't fit for walking.

I had this same problem a few years ago. I was riding but not walking. I had to take regular walks to strengthen the legs for weight bearing. After a few years I can now walk with equal efficiency as biking. In fact walking has made the legs stronger, owing to its weight bearing capability.
I don't think it's worse now though than it was 13 years ago at age 31. I'm sure age hasn't helped matters and I do wonder if it will be even harder to correct at this point.

Did you find you had problems with walking just on flat ground or also downhill? I can climb stairs with no problems. We stay at a 20 floor condo building each summer and for extra exercise, I climb the stairs and then take the elevator down, repeating this several times with no problems. If I was to try that with descending the stairs, I'd be in a world of hurt.

I can definitely identify with this. I went on an 8 mile hike a few weeks ago and was really sore for the next couple of days. I never get sore after cycling. I would have thought two weeks of xc skiing during the winter as well as my daily 2 miles commuting walking would keep me in weight bearing shape, but apparently not.
I did lots of cross-country skiing two winters ago with no problems but unfortunately it didn't seem to help me either for other activities. I'm looking for an activity that I can just lightly partake in to slowly condition the opposite muscles to my cycling ones. I suppose I can try just running up and down my hill a few times and gradual extend that.
 

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I don't think it's worse now though than it was 13 years ago at age 31. I'm sure age hasn't helped matters and I do wonder if it will be even harder to correct at this point.

Did you find you had problems with walking just on flat ground or also downhill? I can climb stairs with no problems. We stay at a 20 floor condo building each summer and for extra exercise, I climb the stairs and then take the elevator down, repeating this several times with no problems. If I was to try that with descending the stairs, I'd be in a world of hurt.


I did lots of cross-country skiing two winters ago with no problems but unfortunately it didn't seem to help me either for other activities. I'm looking for an activity that I can just lightly partake in to slowly condition the opposite muscles to my cycling ones. I suppose I can try just running up and down my hill a few times and gradual extend that.
Running up stairs should be a great way to keep the legs strong, but ya gotta go down the stairs too, to work the muscles on the back of the legs. :D I have a mile walk to the local shopping center. It provides a nice two block climb up a fairly steep grade. Two years ago, it was painful. Now it's a piece of cake. Coming back from a two week trip, sitting in the car and driving, I'll have to take a couple of short walks to rejuvenate the legs from two weeks of no exercise. Bummer. Specialization gets worse with age.

I like walking because it contains an endurance aspect, which carries over into cycling. Walking at an aerobic pace for a half hour helped me more than jumping up bleachers. The latter was good for strength. Walking works better to build up endurance, though, IME. Stay aerobic below AT, and work the slow twitch aerobic muscles fibers, same as cycling.
 

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Regardless of how good shape you're in doing one thing you'll get sore doing another if it works different muscles.
I used to hurt really bad the first few weeks of hockey despite the fact it was right after soccer season and I was in fantastic running shape.
Cycling is definitely not worse than doing nothing and being completely unfit.
 

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It's the eccentric contractions of those non-cycling activities. That's why going down hill/steps are particularly bad for it.
 

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It's the eccentric contractions of those non-cycling activities. That's why going down hill/steps are particularly bad for it.
Bingo. That's why you can do those 20 flights of stairs going up without problems but going down will leave you sore. Road cycling doesn't stress your leg muscles eccentrically very much. You can get a bit more of that type of work on a mountain bike while descending technical trails if you want to get some on bike eccentric work done.

Like any other workout, the key is to ease into it. There's an amount of hiking that you can do now that won't leave you very sore. You just have to find that line and build from there if it's something that's important to you.
 

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Coming back from a two week trip, sitting in the car and driving, I'll have to take a couple of short walks to rejuvenate the legs from two weeks of no exercise.
I have found long car trips rough on the sciatica. I need to get out and do lots of stretches after any car trip longer than 4-5 hours.

I like walking because it contains an endurance aspect, which carries over into cycling. Walking at an aerobic pace for a half hour helped me more than jumping up bleachers. The latter was good for strength. Walking works better to build up endurance, though, IME. Stay aerobic below AT, and work the slow twitch aerobic muscles fibers, same as cycling.
How do you get up into the aerobic range just walking? Unless I'm going up hill, I have to be nearly running to get my heart up that high.
 

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It depends on what you are used to or not used to. No matter the age, if new movement is forced on your body, you will feel it the next day. Even when doing the same (say bench press) moves for years, then took extra long break from it and come back to it, it will be more painful the next day than it has been before the long break.

What matters on the age is that younger person will be able to recover faster.
 

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I'm experiencing a bit of an artificial extreme case of this. Bicycling has been my primary recovery method since a major ankle fracture 3.3 years ago. I don't have any problem with it on the bike anymore, but going down ladders or stairs is still quite hard. Running is almost impossible. I even walk more slowly than most people now. After almost exclusively road biking for a year and a half, I find even mountain biking is harder. Also, I just turned 53, which doesn't help. I reckon this is how old age sets in. Not a gradual continuum of decline, but plateaus punctuated by a series of somewhat catastrophic events, one of which will eventually incapacitate or kill you.
 

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Regardless of how good shape you're in doing one thing you'll get sore doing another if it works different muscles.
I used to hurt really bad the first few weeks of hockey despite the fact it was right after soccer season and I was in fantastic running shape.
Cycling is definitely not worse than doing nothing and being completely unfit.
This! However if I'm in shape from cycling I doing a long run won't push me over the edge in the same way a long run would if I didn't cycle, so there is some benefit.
 

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I don't know quite why, but I have been sore/stiff all over for quite a while. I can bike for 100 miles, but if I sit in a chair for 20min I can hardly get up and stand straight.

Could be age (65), but I am starting a new no-sedetary daily program. I'm still sore/stiff but hopefully at some point it will get better.

Note: Stretching usually clears all this up for several hours.
 

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I have found long car trips rough on the sciatica. I need to get out and do lots of stretches after any car trip longer than 4-5 hours.



How do you get up into the aerobic range just walking? Unless I'm going up hill, I have to be nearly running to get my heart up that high.
Well, I meant very aerobic. No excursions into anaerobic, except one short hill, about 50 paces full on AT. Recover at the top, and I'm good for a New York pace for as long as it takes. HR well below AT, but so what? Doing it a half hour is the goal, but you want to feel you can do it for longer. Walking is great for cycling too. Works the core muscles neglected in cycling, improves bone mass that gets diluted riding.

Next time I take a long walk, I'll strap the HR on. Suspect HR slowly increases over the walk, highest toward the end. Those last few hills are heart pounders.
 

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Well, I meant very aerobic. No excursions into anaerobic, except one short hill, about 50 paces full on AT. Recover at the top, and I'm good for a New York pace for as long as it takes. HR well below AT, but so what? Doing it a half hour is the goal, but you want to feel you can do it for longer. Walking is great for cycling too. Works the core muscles neglected in cycling, improves bone mass that gets diluted riding.

Next time I take a long walk, I'll strap the HR on. Suspect HR slowly increases over the walk, highest toward the end. Those last few hills are heart pounders.
Oh yes, walking up hills and stairs will take me into aerobic range. Flat walking only takes me into the fat burning range unless I am almost running. But as you say, it is still worth something.

New York pace? I commute into NYC daily and I can tell you that it is a MYTH that NYC people walk fast. I walk past most people in my daily commute. Very few pass me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Cycling unquestionably helps with cardio fitness for other activities but I think it can make it more painful when it comes to using the opposite muscle groups compared to a completely untrained person.

My plan is to start incorporating very light squats and a few gentle downhill runs every week to hopefully build up my severe deficiency with eccentric muscle contraction. I’m still hobbled even today. Tomorrow I’ll be back to cycling. Hopefully by this coming weekend I’ll be recovered enough to start the cross training.
 
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