The seizing quadriceps on descending stairs and slopes problem

PJMC

New Member
Hi there. I am hoping someone out there can help me out with this problem I have had off and on for the last 30 years. I am a lifetime exerciser and a cyclist for the last 15 years so a fairly good level of general fitness and leg strength. I first noticed this problem years ago when I was descending from a mountain while hiking with friends in the Lakes District. My quads seized up to the point of excruciating pain and the only way I could make it stop, was to stop moving. Needless to say it took a lot longer to get down the mountain than up. As mentioned, this has happened with increasing regularity, always on going downhill or stairs, to the point where I avoid both situations wherever possible (difficult!). I can go backwards down the stairs no problem. If I allow the pain to escalate, ie: “push” through, I end up with quads that are tender for days. Stretching is almost impossible because of pain. It is worse after a period of inactivity ie:long haul plane flight. I have lower back issues and always assumed this was the reason until a neurologist biopsied my quadriceps and found them to be almost absent of fast twitch muscle fibre. I have since been researching like mad and found a cycle forum that discussed this issue back in 2009. It seems I am not alone and appears to affect cyclists in particular, the theory being that the constant concentric muscle action required in cycling inhibits the eccentric muscle action required for downhill walking. The conversation thread that I found petered out with no real solutions but plenty of hypotheses. Every medical specialist I have seen for this looks at me blankly. I think I’ve been tested for everything and the muscle fibre situation seems to be the only clinically significant finding.
So, If anyone else out there has experienced something similar, please share especially if you have found any sort of solution. Thx.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
I had forgotten having that problem, but for a while I had to walk downstairs (or down hills) backwards. In my case, it seemed to be because I was obese at the time. When I lost weight the problem went away. (I have lower back problems too.)
 
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PJMC

New Member
I had forgotten having that problem, but for a while I had to walk downstairs (or down hills) backwards. In my case, it seemed to be because I was obese at the time. When I lost weight the problem went away. (I have lower back problems too.)
Thanks Colin. I’m glad you have resolved your situation and I wish I had some excess weight to lose as that is something I possibly could control. It is definitely worse if I try to carry anything so loading the muscles is clearly an issue.
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
How are you glutes , weak glutes is often connected with a bad back and it’s the glutes that help you walk upright. Road bikes don’t work the glutes all that much, unless out the saddle.

squats, lunges etc. may help.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
See an experienced sports physio?
I’m currently having my quads treated (tortured) with a Compex machine to try to redress the imbalance between relatively weak quads and stronger hamstrings and glutes. Aim is to get more flexion into an arthritic knee.
 

Levo-Lon

Guru
I'd go with above advice, sounds like a targeted exercise regime to improve muscle strength and flexibility, good physio may be able to shed some light on a potential back issue?
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Valhalla
Ow! That sounds deeply unpleasant. I'd go see a doc first, check there's nothing inherently amiss. Once that's out the way a decent sports therapist.

I was wincing simply reading that so I hope you get it sorted.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Thanks Colin. I’m glad you have resolved your situation and I wish I had some excess weight to lose as that is something I possibly could control. It is definitely worse if I try to carry anything so loading the muscles is clearly an issue.
Maybe seeing a physio would be the best next step for you - good luck!
 
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PJMC

New Member
Thanks all. I’ve seen a few physio’s along the journey and in fact in a past life was one myself. I’m visiting an exercise physiologist next week armed with all my new information, I’m hoping to nail an effective program.
 
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PJMC

New Member
How are you glutes , weak glutes is often connected with a bad back and it’s the glutes that help you walk upright. Road bikes don’t work the glutes all that much, unless out the saddle.

squats, lunges etc. may help.
Guilty! My glutes are pathetic and I have been working on lunges and squats.
 
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