Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Special

To have a heart or not? That is the question?

The top picture will not do you very well without something inside!

It is Valentine's Day, so let's get to the heart of it! Without a good heart count your game over.

You don't have to know the language of medicine, the cardiovascular system nor know its anatomy or physiology to know that the pulmonary circulation that works with blood picks up oxygen (O2); and blood loses carbon dioxide (CO2). You don't have to know the systemic circulation and the aorta and its arterial branches.

You perhaps know, that there is two major phases of the heartbeat. These are called diastole (relaxation) and systole (contraction).

There you have it! Even this muscle has to contract and then relax! To move your legs, your muscles need the best range of motion and the best line of pull. The bike is a frame and it dictates the geometry and its mechanical characteristics. Basic frames need work to modify them for the different conditions you wish to ride and for the rider's build. Yes a lighter bike climbs well, but might have a shimmy on downhill. A heavier frame increases stability for improved handling at higher speeds. Light or heavy, both require you to use your muscles.
So it now sounds like a matter of feel (mushy vs. liveliness) and that for sure depends on your style. Again, you have to use your levers that are worked by your muscles. Get that wrong and don't expect performance.

So what does all of this have to do with your heart and legs?

Your legs act as your second heart! The perfect range of motion and the best line of pull, given the game you want to play, allows every muscle in your legs to contract the muscles, then relax! If they don't? Well they act like your heart! They fail! And you can't put a pacemaker in your legs! But if you use your brain, you can control the pace of them!

It seems that there is a special day each month to drive us to buy something for someone. If we need it or not. Perhaps we need a national bike fitting day and make that a traditional event! It might help people more than they know if they get the correct info for what they want to do.
How often do we see a mtb fit from traditional road needs, its not the same game!

There is a word on the first half of mountain biking "mountain" and most of the time that means climbing with hills. That means the severity of hills forces you to put more effort into it and if your machine is not right, well! Your pedal habit on say a flat might not work on a hill.
Even where you sit on the saddle makes a difference.

Bicycling is a game and that means you need to learn how to play it "outside". It is not just about training! It must be pointed out that a cyclist can only achieve optimum efficiency if their bike is perfectly adapted to their build and what they want to do! And this a huge problem that is easy to state by x,y,z ideas than to solve! You have to have the mental will to push your athletic limits. Don't expect a leisure bike set up to help you on the hills. Don't expect the traditional dimensions (saddle height, setback, handlebar distance, saddle-stem height, even cleat placement, etc...) of road to help you on your mtb.

Valentines Day is yet more traditional proposals on things that are well, traditional. The same holds true for training based on your heart! Can you say traditional stereotyped generalizations! Kind of like most of the bike fits that are traditionally stereotyped.

It also seems that much effort is placed on training by cultures as topics of physical preparation underline the sport. This is good, and will serve us well as we keep our feet on the ground or in our sport, the pedals! If your feet are on the pedals in the correct fashion.

Cycling is just like many sports that require the athlete, whether professional or amateur, to perform their task and exercise their skills using on a not seeming complex machine. In other words we are dependent on the equipment. The driving force is not just the belly of the muscles fueled by the heart, but also how the machine itself is set up!

But, understand this, a road bike fit is not mtb fit, a XC fir or a tt fit, nor is a tri fit or even the same as a track tt fit, and the list goes on! The nature of the athlete changes profoundly as they mounts the machine they wish to ride! Then you have the many style that more follow "form follows function". Some sitting upright very perched, other's bridge? It is cool to look good perched upon their streamlined machine when they pull up to get their Java. Other's are bridged Like the wings of a bird, their legs beat rhythmically to propel them forward, the legs beat alternately in a regular motion. Just like the heart, its muscle that makes you go!

On a flat terrain much of what the effort is all about is to overcome wind resistance. But yet we see the many fits that have you perched upright? Great for going at slow speeds, and on flats it works as very little energy is used to move forward. Everything changes when the cyclist decides to go uphill or faster. You need to pump out the watts!

This is where the wide range of possibilities of fitting comes down to earth! As we said, putting your feet back on the ground or pedal! You can dream all you want e.g. to be a god like Mercury who had winds on his sandals and haul it. Effort is the key and setting a powerful pace according to your age, your motivation, and your physical abilities. Remember this, that the watt, a unit of power, represents the work accomplished when a given mass goes to work.
Even a untrained cyclist can easily make about 200-250 watts. We attempt to make use of the strongest muscles of the human body. Many don't understand that cycling works the entire body. It is not a natural thing! That opens up a huge can worms!

A few facts about the heart, it is a muscular, cone-shaped organ, about the size of a clenched fist, that pumps blood throughout the body and beats normally about 70 times per minute by coordinated nerve impulses and muscular contractions.

The weight of the heart in men averages between 280 and 340 g and in women, between 230 and 280 g. You mean there can be a difference in the size of one's pump to meet the metabolic requirements of body tissues?

Every year thousands of heart's are given to sweetheart's for Valentine's Day!
It seems the heart means more about your soul vs a pump?

Tradition has it for many, the heart is a way to train? Kind of the same thing as the "heart is your soul" on Valentine's day.

Why don't we give a lung or a liver or a "brain" for Valentine's Day? They are important also.
Is the brain more of the soul over the heart or is that heartless? If we gave a brain to people, perhaps more would know that the heart is just a pump.

Think of the pumping sounds of water within a pump that pumps water from the river to the fields as you hear the sound of the valves (a dull, prolonged "lub" with the closure of the valves at the onset, then the second sound, a short, sharp "dup," occurs. There is yet another sound, a weak, low-pitched, dull 3rd sound. It is sometimes heard and is thought to be caused by vibrations of the walls of the ventricles when they are suddenly distended by blood from the atria. It is called "diastolic gallop". There is also a "presystolic gallop".

Sounds? Pumping sounds, gallop sounds? Sounds like what we do when we use sEMG to listen to the muscles firing or not.

There is even a instrument, a stehoscope, used in mediate auscultation, consisting of two earpieces connected by means of flexible tubing to a diaphragm, which is placed against the skin of the patient's chest or back to hear heart and lung sounds. In the hands of someone who knows what the sounds mean can be used for auscultation sounds interpertations.

Then we have a electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) not (EDG, EEG or EHD) that a technologist might use say during a operation. The (EKG, ECG) is a device used for recording the electric activity of the myocardium to detect transmission of the cardiac impulse through the conductive tissues of the muscles. It shows a model of the waveform or a graphic record that can be read!

That is what sEMG is about! The "Analogy -using bird songs or the sound of a thunder strom that produces a roll of thunder that moves in all directions, producing lighting sending the sounds to the recording electrodes (microphones). The biological energy reaches the reference electrode, and only the energy that is unique to each recording electrode is passed on for further signal conditioning and display.

The analogy helps to clarify a concept. Monitoring the amplitude of bird songs in the field allows you to recorde the bird songs (Geese) as the birds fly toward the two microphones, each microphone receives a slightly different sound, since the birds are closer to one microphone than the other. The differential amplifier simply subtracts the level of song on one microphone from that of the other, presenting the difference as the index of loudness. The louder the birds sing, the larger the difference and the higher the loudness meter. We can see and hear if a muscle is on or off and even its % of use within each pedal stroke!

Back to the sounds of a heart. Additional heart sounds include clicks, murmurs, rubs, and snaps!

Yes the "stroke volume - the amount of blood ejected by the ventricle during a ventricle contraction of the heart" is important, as it needs to move the blood at a rate that we get the most volume moved! Much more important that how fast the pump runs! You only get 4-O2's to one Red Blood Cell (RBC).

Other factors affecting the hearbeat are emotion, exercise, hormones, temperature, pain, and stress.

Bottom line, if the plants (muscles) don't get the water (blood), they don't make it! They fail!

Most of us have "Sweet Hearts" in our lives! Maybe that is why we are here? So have a (heart/soul) and push them towards a healthly lifestyle.

When it comes to heart disease, everyone seems to know that lifestyle is important! A good diet, lots of physical activity, not smoking, maintaining a trim waistline and being able to control stress go a long way toward preventing a heart attack or failure of the water pump to work.

Much depends on your lifestyle! So play the odds and do the things everyone knows are part of a healthy lifestyle! Work on a healthy pump for your plants!

Then if you really want to learn how to make more horsepower, use a little horse-sense, cut the "Sweet Talk" and get your "Valentine's Special" a correct fit and suggest they use a power meter to record more truths! Not to say the old pump is not important, but the power meter along with the best fit is better science of riding faster!

The quest for a technical edge never stops, just be sure you don't get the "Sweet Talk" only. Different cyclists have different needs, and each cyclist's individual characteristics (whole heartly) should be taken into account when equipment is selected or adjusted. That is why we use our CAD over mass marketing or eyeing things.
Its best to be open to every aspect of technology and techniques! We can help you gain new insights on how to optimize the dynamics between your machine and maximize the performance.

Techniques are outside, not in a trainer and that is why we use Dartfish!
True, it is only a tool, so you need to know what to look for and we do!
It might just change their day!

Happy Valentine's!

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