Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Strenuous Shocking Exercise "OUCH"

When is too much too much?

I think most are aware of the soft, fleshy, central part of a muscle, the jellylike mass called the belly of muscle compartments. Towards the ends of the muscle, the contractile cells disappear, but their investment of connective tissue continues in order to attach the muscles to the bones.

Have you ever slowed down enough to check out the steak you are getting ready to grill? Compartments are groupings of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels in your arms and legs. Covering these tissues is a tough membrane called a fascia. The role of the fascia is to keep the tissues in place, and, therefore, the fascia does not stretch or expand easily.

What many are not aware, is pain and swelling of chronic compartment syndrome is caused by exercise. Athletes who participate in activities with repetitive motions, such as xc skiing, running, biking, or swimming, are more likely to develop chronic compartment syndrome. This is usually relieved by discontinuing the exercise, and is usually not dangerous. It's hard to get people to stop once they get hooked on the exercise, even if they have pain or not. Many just think they are getting stronger. After all more is better? Not always!

What you might not know is, nor the bike fitter who just uses a plumb line, teaches a heel down style, if muscle were a relatively simple mechanism like a spring, and some investigators have modeled it that way (KOPS) a direct relationship would exist between the tension it could develop at different lengths and the amount of work it could accomplish.

Now comes a something shocking. We are are very different, given that strains result from motion that exceeds "YOUR" limits of both joint & muscles, you have many of both. For example, each pedal stroke causes the femur to seat itself more closely into the menisci. A too low saddle causes more stress. This happens because the foot, at the ankle has less movement due to the cleat, so the lower leg rotates less than the upper leg that rotates inward at knee and hip. Many think you should not any rotation? I guess they don't know that muscles run on an angle that allows you to rotate about an axis? We don't know what A&P class they took, perhaps they missed that week? We know that a heel down pedal style causes even more compression to the joint and also to the muscle, down into the tendons.

Does "compression, shearing, tension" ring a bell? Too much of any of them will cost you!

Perhaps you have heard of Q-angle, its the deviation between the line of pull of the quadriceps femoris and the patellar ligament. A Q-angle of 10-degress is considered normal, but look around and note how many different shapes you see (wide pelvis, knock knees, etc...), but what about the unseen (flat lateral femoral condyle, meniscus injury) susceptible to overuse injury.

I recall a good friend from Norway at school on a full 4 year ride for xc skiing for the University of Utah Ski team. He was Norway's National XC Champion, a big deal! Yes he had a full 4 year ride to school, but they dropped him, he lost his schooling and was sent back to Norway. What happened?

His styles of running, skiing, cycling was leading towards too much compartmental pressure to his lower legs, along with vascular compromise due to a too "heel down" style. It is well known to use the whole foot as the base to skate from, but perhaps for that sport. He was super fast, he had the cross-section of muscle, he had a very fast pace, but his style took him out. Next!!! That's how it works, if you are out of the game, you are out and in his case back to Norway. He became very sick and who knows what damage he has many years later.

Compartment syndrome is the compression of nerves, blood vessels, and muscle inside a closed space (compartment) within the body. This leads to tissue death from lack of oxygenation; the blood vessels being compressed by the raised pressure within the compartment. Compartment syndrome most often involves the forearm and lower leg. It can be divided into acute, subacute, and chronic compartment syndrome.

The team would ride their mtb bikes for preseason training, and this guy even used his mtb bike and oh yes, would ride too heel down because he learned to use more leg flexion. It didn't help him that the xc team would run up steep hills behind the shcool and I mean full speed ahead and he was always the king of the hill.

This was somewhat a epidemic with the team. The reason, strenuous exercise and they wanted to be top dog in NCAA and that means you push beyond the limits and they did often.

This is important to know, as you get ready for the 2011. High tissue pressure impedes blood flow and causes muscle ischemia during repetitive exercise. That means you need to get it right the first time.

Compartment syndrome can be either acute or chronic.

Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. It is usually caused by a severe injury. Without treatment, it can lead to permanent muscle damage.

Chronic compartment syndrome, also known as exertional compartment syndrome, is usually not a medical emergency. It is most often caused by athletic exertion as in the case of one of the fastest xc ski racers in the world.

Actually, muscle consist of three interdependent elements: 1) contractile component, 2) a series elastic component, and 3) a parallel elastic component.
  • contractile component - actively develops tension and shortening, can lie in part in the tendinous filaments into which muscle fibers insert, its function to tension development in the whole muscle-tendon unit when the muscles shortens from a previously stretched position.
  • parallel elastic component - comes into action only when the muscle is stretched, its mostly connective tissue and is responsible for the resting tension. The physical arrangement has practical consequences. During standing or at low-speed locomotion, the contractile component is responsible for the mechanical work and power output. But at higher speed, shortening contractions (positive work) are immediately preceded by a lengthening contraction (negative work) which the active muscles are stretched and mechanical energy is stored in the muscle's elastic and viscoelastic components.
This energy is then released during the shortening contraction that immediately follows and results in "enhanced work and power output." The "stretch-shorten" cycle in skeletal muscle is seen in moderate and high-speed movements results in a very efficient use of muscle resources and enhanced work output.

It's these extensions of the cordlike tendon, being braided with one another, so that tension in any part of a muscle is usually distributed more or less equally to all parts of the attachment to the bone.

Because a tendon collects and transmits forces from many different muscle fibers onto a very small area of bone, the site of the tendinous attachment is normally marked by a rough tubercle on the bone.

The structure of the insertion of the tendon onto the bone and the tendon's behavior under mechanical loading is very similar to that of a ligament (the structure that holds bones together).

The size and shape of a tendon and the speed of loading on it are the two main factors that determine its strength. The tendon is very important link between muscle and bone, the stress on it increasing as its muscle contracts.

Large muscles usually have large tendons. During normal activity a tendon usually experiences only 25% of the maximal stress it can withstand; very rapid, unexpected stretches of a tendon are common conditions for tendon rupture.

For example, having your heel unexpectedly drop into a hole in the ground could cause rupture of the Achilles tendon.

Note: The fact that the relative amounts of connective and contractile tissue vary greatly from muscle to muscle has at times been disregarded and has led to great discrepancies when experimental physiologist have reported the physical properties of muscle.

The tetanic force, the rate of chemical energy disipation, or both proportionate to the number of interactions between the cross bridges and the actin filaments.
If the muscle goes into a state of rigor, forcibl attempts to stretch it will result in a tearing of the filaments, usually in the I bands.

Compartment syndrome develops when swelling or bleeding occurs within a compartment. Because the fascia "does not stretch," this can cause increased pressure on the capillaries, nerves, and muscles in the compartment. Blood flow to muscle and nerve cells is disrupted. Without a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients, nerve and muscle cells can be damaged.

In acute compartment syndrome, unless the pressure is relieved quickly, permanent disability and tissue death may result. This does not usually happen in chronic (exertional) compartment syndrome.

Compartment syndrome most often occurs in the anterior (front) compartment of the lower leg (calf). It can also occur in other compartments in the leg, as well as in the arms, hands, feet, and buttocks and between your legs while on a saddle.

Chronic (Exertional) Compartment Syndrome

The pain and swelling of chronic compartment syndrome is caused by exercise. Athletes who participate in activities with repetitive motions, such as running, biking, or swimming, are more likely to develop chronic compartment syndrome. This is usually relieved by discontinuing the exercise, and is usually not dangerous.

What to do if you over did it?

Nonsurgical treatment. Physical therapy, orthotics (inserts for shoes), and anti-inflammatory medicines are sometimes suggested. They have had questionable results for relieving symptoms.

Your symptoms may subside if you avoid the activity that caused the condition. Cross-training with low-impact activities may be an option. Some athletes have symptoms that are worse on certain surfaces (concrete vs. running track, or artficial turf vs. grass, trails, etc...). Symptoms may be relieved by switching surfaces.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sue Butler Reports on Crash Fest at Zolder World Cup

Rider Report: Sue Butler Recalls Zolder World Cup

Butler is all smiles with travel buddy Trebon. Photo courtesy of Sue Butler.

Portland, OR, pro racer Sue Butler (WN) was at the Zolder World Cup this past weekend, where Katie Compton took the win for the women, and Lars Boom took the men’s. Read on for her experience of this icy race.

by Sue Butler

Zolder World Cup: No Words to Describe.
As I sit here to recall the race, I am somewhat at a loss for words. It was fun in a very perverse sort of way. It was fun, frustrating, crazy, chaotic and really a lot about luck. I had anticipated a fairly chaotic start, but it really exceeded my expectations. I was in the 2nd row and actually had a great start heading onto the snowy left hand corner. But then it started. People crashing everywhere. I was still on my bike, but someone not on theirs decided I shouldn’t be either. I was shoved into the fence, pinched at the corner running; I tried to get going, but with people running and shoving, people crashing, it was a circus. I kept pushing forward. But you never knew when someone was going to swerve into you. It happened many times that first lap. It was the luck, or unluck of the draw. When someone passes you and crashes immediately in front of you, there are just not words. Or options. You can’t run them over and keep going. You can be sailing along in the loose snow and all of a sudden your front wheel turns. Standstill. Time to start over. Then the running and starting/stopping/ crashing, you get ice built up in the pedals. Then you can’t clip in and you really can’t ride. It was impossible. I know. I tried. Minutes of trying to get into the pedals, losing places, losing time, but still managing to stay in the game. Don’t give up. I was enjoying the challenge. It was so ridiculous, it was, well, funny? I don’t know if that is the word. There is not a word. I think I may have been in shock while racing. Finally, lap 4, I got it together. It was my fastest lap. They kept getting faster. Less people around perhaps. I could finally clip in Maybe with one lap I could have moved up, but the laps were long. It wasn’t a matter of IF you would crash, but how often or how many people would crash into you. Really, it was an experience. It was something I have never experienced before. I consider it a win coming out of that with a few bruises and scratches. It was one for the record books. And one to leave with a confused smile on my face.

Congrats to Katie Compton who nailed her start when it REALLY counted. Thanks to Chris McKenney for his mechanical support and again, the awesome support of Family Thijs and their friends. Not to mention my awesome sponsors. Without great gear, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to partake in this. I’ve learned a lot this race. Crash less, go faster. Looking forward to St. Wendel in January!

Boise-Based Pro Team Exergy Gets Press!

As the sports section of the Idaho Stateman points out, "It's no secret the Treasure Valley is home to a thriving cycling community, and Team Exergy Pro Cycling is helping the sport gain a bigger foothold.

"When you are a pro team, you get more attention from the media, the fans and races," said Tad Hamilton, the team's sport director (manager).

Hamilton said the team will focus on establishing itself as a contender in an attempt to gain an invitation to the Tour of California.

"We want to ride aggressively," Hamilton said.

There are many bike shops, mass marketing fit ideas, but there is only one fit system that really makes your get more from each pedal stroke and that is why Exergy uses WN.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry CXMass!!! Compton! Sue Butler 2nd Top US CX'er!

  • They didn't tape the women's.
  • Two weeks of nearly nonstop snowfall have turned this into what may be Belgium’s snowiest and coldest December since the Allies repelled the final German offensive of the Second World War in the Battle of the Bulge.
  • With temperatures hovering near freezing, fresh snowfall on Christmas added extra challenge to an already super

    World Cup CX Zolder, Belgium technical course, which wound its way around the Ardennes hills.

  • www.cxmagazine.com
  • Americans Test Their Christmas Race Legs in Beernem, Belgium
  • Merry CXMas and Happy Holidays!

  • Katie Compton gets another World Cup win.

    Katie Compton gets another World Cup win.

    Results – World Cup-Heusden-Zolder, 2010


    • 1. Katherine Compton, (USA), in 39:58
    • 2. Marianne Vos, (NED) Nederland Bloeit, at 0:54
    • 3. Sanne Van Paassen, (NED), at 1:29
    • 4. Brand Daphny Van Den, (NED), at 2:10
    • 5. Pavla Havlikova, (CZE), at 2:11
    • 6. Sabrina Schweizer, (GER), at 2:28
    • 7. Pauline Ferrand Prevot, (FRA), at 2:47
    • 8. Christel Ferrier-bruneau, (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope, at 02:48
    • 9. Linda Van Rijen, (NED), at 3:07
    • 10. Jasmin Achermann, (SUI) Fischer-Bmc, at 03:35
    • 11. Caroline Mani, (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope, at 03:52
    • 12. Helen Wyman, (GBR) Kona, at 04:57
    • 13. Sanne Cant, (BEL), at 5:20
    • 14. Nikki Harris, (GBR), at 5:41
    • 15. Sabrina Stultiens, (NED), at 6:01
    • 16. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), at 6:30
    • 17. Elisabeth Brandau, (GER), at 6:31
    • 18. Nadia Triquet-claude, (FRA) Vienne Futuroscope, at 07:20
    • 19. Susan Butler, (WN/USA), at 7:25
  • Monday, December 20, 2010

    USA Tops As Compton #1 Kalmthout, Belgium

    Its not over until its over and the World Cup is still game on!

    Katie Compton scores World Cup win in Kalmthout, Sue Butler (WN) 2nd Top USA placement.

    You might as well say Nash is a USA racer, she took 3rd after a bad line, she races for Luna full time.

    Katie Compton scores World Cup win in Kalmthout, Nash 3rd, Butler (WN) 2nd Top USA placement.

    KALMTHOUT, Belgium (VN) — With snow falling on an already icy, snow-covered course in very cold woods north of Antwerp, American US CX queen Katie Compton (Planet Bike) powered away from both her familiar rival Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) and world champ Marianne Vos (Nederland-Bloeit) to #3 World Cup win of the season.

    Katie Compton takes her third World Cup victory of the season

    Katie Compton takes her third World Cup victory of the season. Photo: Dan Seaton

    Vos, a sprinter, who made her return to World Cup competition after several months spent training in Australia preparing to defend her 2008 Olympic gold on the track, stormed back from a last-row start to take 2nd ahead of newly crowned Czech champion Nash who races full time in the US.

    Though British champ Helen Wyman (Kona) shot to the front from the gun, the Netherlands’ Sanne Van Paassen (BrainWash) took initial control of the race, leading through the first lap ahead of Nash and Belgian champion Sanne Cant (BKCP-Powerplus). While Compton started slowly, she was within striking distance by the end of the first lap, pulling Germany’s Hanka Kupfernagel.

    Vos, meanwhile, with essentially no cx race time so far this season, was forced to start in the last row, and battle her way to the front. By the end of the first lap she was sitting in 7th, some 20 seconds behind the leaders.

    Nash took the lead on the 2nd lap, while Compton made contact with the front group, sitting comfortably in 4th behind Cant and Van Paassen. Vos, meanwhile, continued moving up as well, unleashing one of the fastest laps anyone would ride all day to pull within 10 seconds of the lead group.

    It was near the race’s midpoint that Compton finally took charge, powering through the snow and into first, quickly opening a large gap between her and Nash. While Compton pulled away, Vos was also closing, first coming around Cant and reaching the leaders just as both Nash and Van Paassen went down in a deep, slippery mud pit. Vos, one of only a few riders who handled the mud cleanly during the race, used the opportunity to take over second place.

    While Compton raced in great form to what looked like an easy solo win, Vos stretched her lead over Nash and Van Paassen. Vos couldn’t gain time on Compton, however, and would finish 30 seconds off the lead, but several seconds ahead of Nash. Vos, who spent the first lap of the race just finding her way around most of the 47 women in the field on her way to the front, showed decisively that she remains a force despite the early season layoff.

    Few have been able to hold 30 seconds to Compton i.e. Georgia Gould (WN) Luna is one of the few.

    Sue Butler ( WN Hudz-Subaru) was the best American behind Compton, finishing 23rd, while Christine Vardaros (Baboco-Revor) 36th. Meredith Miller (California Giant) was 38th.

    Fast finish, but a slow start

    Compton, who this year has started slowly at a number of races before opening huge gaps, said Sunday’s slow start was not part of a plan, but didn’t hurt her too much either.

    “I’m aware that I need to start better, but for some reason this year I’m just struggling with my starts,” she explained. “But I kind of like following at first, and then knowing when to attack because I know I how people are riding. I’ve learned to be patient. I’ve tried to force it too many times and made too many mistakes and crashed and lost time. So now if I don’t get a good start I try to relax and be patient and wait for my times to pass and attack.

    Vos is back “If you spend more time on the track you’re going to get the track legs"

    2010 UCI World Cup, Kalmthout, Marianne Vos

    Marianne Vos runs up the stairs and towards second place. Photo: Dan Seaton

    “This was only the 3rd time I raced my ’cross bike this season. So ultimately I’m glad I started yesterday,” she said. “I was a little bit tapped out in the finale then; that didn’t happen here. Yesterday I knew already a lot of what ’cross feels like.”

    “Today I never really had Compton in my sights. Just as I approached her lead group she put in her attack,” she said.

    Nash, meanwhile, said Vos got the better of her because of a bobble late in the race.

    “Vos caught up with us on the pavement, and going into the last lap she put in a really good effort. I actually happened to crash right behind her, and that’s how we got the little gap,” she said. “I was close, but I could never quite close the gap on her.”

    “I’m not quite sure how it would work out to sprint with her either,” she added, with a laugh.

    Butler still struggling

    Butler (WN) was the top American finisher behind Compton, told VeloNews that she had struggled with the unusually cold weather. Sue has been sick and even missed Fort Collins, CO. This is a tough sport on the human body and jetlag from Portland, OR to Belgium is kick your butt.

    “I love this race, but my body just shut down I was so cold. I just started going backwards,” she said. “I had such a good start, and I was where I wanted to be. I wore a lot of clothes, but after jetlag — I didn’t sleep well last night — I think it’s just really hard for your body to do it. I think next week it should be better after being here a week.

    Butler said that she has been recovering from illness that slowed her down in the final weeks of the USGP racing season, including at the national championship race. She did pull off a 5th, but was very unhappy about it.

    “Right now, everyone else is just faster and I’m a little slower, it just wasn’t where I wanted to be today,” said the American.

    Compton, with wins in all but one World Cup race this season — she knows her body and opted to sit out the 2nd round in Plzen in October — takes over 2nd place World Cup!!!

    seaton_headshotEditor’s note: Dan Seaton started writing about cyclocross when he moved from New Hampshire to Belgium in 2008. He started covering European cyclocross for VeloNews in October 2010. Dan has a Ph.D. in physics and spends most of his time working as mission scientist for a spaceborne solar telescope at the Royal Observatory of Belgium. He somehow finds time to race as an amateur ‘crosser in Belgium during the fall and winter. Dan and his wife, Mindi, live in Brussels.