Q&A: pain in the legs…

I have a extreme soreness in my quads at the top and outside, the pain was so bad yesterday that I had to get my wife to come and collect me in the car.

When I ride regularly I do not get a problem. It only seems to happen when I have not been able to ride for two or three days due to bad weather or work commitments etc. 
I will get on the bike and as soon as I start to pedal I get a sharp pain in the quads, they then become very heavy and a bruised type of feeling and very sore if I touch the top or the sides.

The stiffness and soreness can last for 3 or 4 days and I sometimes get pain when walking down the stairs during this period. I am 57 years old and recently had a medical check up for my employers where the doctor remarked what good condition I was in and my cholesterol reading suggested that I had a really healthy diet.

I have been cycling now for 20 months on average 4 days a week with either complete rest or a gentle recovery ride with my wife in between the harder individual or club rides. I have had this problem during the 20 months 5 or 6 times. Is there any advice you could offer to avoid this happening in the future.


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Gerard, I spoke to a couple of doctor friends regarding your symptoms and opinion was uniformly that it’s impossible to isolate a cause for what you’re experiencing without getting you in for a more specific consultation and examination.

The problem is that you’re symptoms can occur due to a wide range of potential causes ranging from nutritional deficiencies to postural issues and even circulatory problems.

So my answer to your request for advice on preventing this happening in the future would be firstly go back to the doctor who gave you an otherwise clean bill of health and get some specialist medical opinion specifically on these symptoms.

Secondly get a biomechanical assessment done, this is a process where they sit you on a bike hooked up to a computer which evaluates your riding position and how efficient you are during each phase of the pedalling action.

Thirdly is self-help. If you’ve noticed that these symptoms only occur after periods of relative inactivity, then stay active. Do short, light resistance, high-cadence spinning on an indoor trainer (preferably rollers) on the days between your more demanding rides as well as introducing a regular programme of flexibility and core strength exercises, possibly including some foam rolling.

Again, go to a strength and conditioning expert for advice on this and explain your symptoms. All of this is good practice for cyclists, particularly ageing ones, and will benefit your performance in a more general sense as well as (hopefully) helping to alleviate your quadriceps pain.

Huw Williams, BC Level three coach

This article was first published in the November 22 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.