Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stay in the Game!

Compared with most other sports, cycling has a very low injury rate per hour spent doing the activity. Perhaps it is due to it being a less weight-bearing sport compared to say running or other sports which carry your total weight.

For the record, you turn about 5,000 revs per hour. When just hanging a plum-line or eyeballing your alignment, any slight biomechanical flaw during any part of the revolution might be looked at as insignificant? Don't make this mistake!

You have to make good strokes, and you can't pedal in a passive way to save energy! Muscles contract, so a smooth early stroke is key, not a focus of up and down on the pedals!

You also must to have the correct line of pull, allowing the muscles to fire! Don't be a masher, your performance will suffer!

This mashing exhausts the muscles, and you use more glycogen! Your legs are like your heart, they need to beat and recover!

A bad alignment, once multiplied by 5,000, any misalignment, (e.g. wrong position of cleats), can lead to dysfunction, impaired performance, and pain! The ankles, knees, and hips have limited range of movements, so why guess?

Finally, think of a prolonged static fixed posture with the spine in flexion, this too can also increase the risk of injuries!

In a sport which requires such strenuous use of the legs, overuse or chronic overload can cause micro-traumatic problems to occur. Yes, they occur over a period of time, as when the forces are applied to a structure, (e.g., a knee tendon).

Overuse injuries can affect tendons, muscles, fascia, bursas, and even nerves!

There are some causes of overuse injuries in cyclists. We call it "going lame" like a horse! A horse doesn't put its horse shoes on! The blacksmith does, and they had better get it right or the horse will go lame! Training errors are very common causes, maybe the most common would be too many miles too soon, adding excessive hill or speed work, or too-big of gears!

Knee pain is the most common problem in cycling; a saddle too high or low, too far forward or backward, cranks too long, cranks too close together or too far apart, cleat position, bent pedal axle, or bad cleat float. These would all cause knee pain.

We know that leg-length discrepancies are very common. We also know that it only takes as little as 3 millimeters from a wider pelvis placing the knees further apart, which stresses the outside of the knee. Add to that excessive foot pronation, which is associated with medial (inside) knee pain causing a internal twist of the shinbone (tibia). This causes the foot to twist inward which in turn causes unbalanced muscles, leading to mis-tracking of the many different kneecaps.

What's in your game?

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