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Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for November 15, 2004
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com)
is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping
athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie
specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track
racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology
from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology
from John F. Kennedy University.
Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com)
is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16
years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities
from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl,
daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.
Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of
Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before
obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000.
Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows,
he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins,
CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural,
urgent care, inpatient and the like.
Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com)
is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting
(Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association
(Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy
for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports
Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in
the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10
years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.
Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com)
is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds
undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy
from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.
Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track,
road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with
and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from
David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com)
is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included
World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes.
He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's
degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual
medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization
musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.
Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com)
has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider
positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders
from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable
cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of
the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the
Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick
Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica
Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.
Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular
Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University
and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University
of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency
on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated
changes in menstrual function on bone health.
Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling
competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion.
Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.
Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com)
is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a
former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in
exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.
Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and
has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years
of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.
Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching
experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.
Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com)
is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association
of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been
professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels
from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching
with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive
cyclist for 20 years
Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com)
is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training.
He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and
a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).
In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports
Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered
training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past
4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.
Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com)
has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified
USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion,
and a Fitness Professional.
Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United
States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns
a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around
the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find
Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational
purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual
athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews,
you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before
beginning any exercise program.
Winter weight training
Long term use of prednisone
Menopause weight gain/training fatigue
New shoes and old cleats
Winter weight training
Weight training for cyclists seems to be a debated subject. I was wondering
what the theories for and against were. I am two months into my squat program,
and would say it does provide some help in my mountain biking (mainly when riding
uphill on rough rocks and rooty trails) but was mainly hoping for more power
on my road bike racing sprints.
Scott Saifer replies:
The latest evidence so far as I can tell says that a well conceived weight
training will not improve your VO2-max or your power at lactate threshold
but will probably enhance your ability to produce power near your VO2-max
for a longer time. It might also increase peak power. A routine of high repetition,
low-weight weight lifting will not cause appreciable hypertrophy but will
make it harder to lose muscle mass, which might be good or bad depending on
your current weight.
Strength training on the bike by pushing high gears at low rpm will also
provide similar benefits, though it also requires that you get on the bike,
which some riders prefer to avoid in the snowy season.
Long term use of prednisone
I am a 63 year old male, 6 feet, currently overweight at 225 pounds. in 1998
I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. I have been taking prednisone for the past
four years and it seems to control the symptoms. Before the illness, I was competing
in duathlons (run-bike-run), numerous running events, and I completed two marathons,
each in less than four hours.
I am now finally interested in "getting back into shape" and have started a
walking and casual biking program. Do you have any recommendations in regard
to the long term effects of prednisone medication and how to train while taking
this drug? Apparently, it will be necessary for me to continue on this steroid
the rest of my life. I have tried to stop taking prednisone three times but
each time the sarcoid flares up again as chronic fatigue, atria fibrillation
(I am taking a drug called rythmol for this), and other systemic aggravations.
A stress test shows my heart is in good shape to train but that when I am unmediated
the sarcoid can somehow affect the heart's electric controls.
One of my doctors tested me for DHEA and found that I have extremely low levels.
I have tried to supplement DHEA but I find it upsets my stomach and I can only
tolerate small amounts. Do you have any suggestions on how to boost this?
Thanks for any help you can offer.
Pam Hinton replies:
First, although you can’t hear it, I’m now backing away from the keyboard
to applaud your determination and courage. I know plenty of people whose biggest
obstacle to training is, well, training. So it’s good to be talkin’ to a real
athlete. I have some recommendations that may help, but first let’s do the
heavy lifting so that we know we’re on the same page.
Prednisone, a synthetic glucocorticoid hormone, is used to treat autoimmune
diseases and to prevent tissue rejection after organ donation. Prednisone
acts directly on the immune system to reduce the immune response: proliferation
of immune cells, tissue destruction, secretion of antibodies and cell-killing
compounds. These are fine objectives, and in your case they are necessary,
but drugs this strong also have strong side-effects.
Glucocorticoids that are made in the body regulate the immune system and
control fuel metabolism. Cortisol, the primary naturally-occurring glucocorticoid
is made in the adrenal gland in response to signals from the brain. The hypothalamus
senses the levels of cortisol in the blood. If cortisol levels are low, the
hypothalamus stimulates the anterior pituitary to secrete ACTH, which travels
through the blood to the adrenal gland where it stimulates production of cortisol
and other hormones.
Starting with cholesterol, the adrenal gland synthesizes cortisol, aldosterone,
androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Aldosterone acts on the
kidney to regulate blood pressure, by stimulating sodium and water retention.
Androstenedione and DHEA are weak androgens that are converted into testosterone
in other tissues.
Glucocorticoids have a catabolic effect on skeletal muscle. These hormones
prevent cell growth by inhibiting synthesis of DNA, RNA, and protein. Binding
of prednisone or cortisol to the glucocorticoid receptor on muscle cells results
in degradation of muscle protein. The amino acids that are released are used
by the liver to make glucose.
Because glucocorticoids reduce glucose uptake and use by muscle and fat,
some individuals treated with glucocorticoids may develop hyperglycemia. When
the hypothalamus is exposed to high levels of prednisone, it shuts down production
of cortisol and the adrenal androgens. This explains why your DHEA levels
are low. As far as maintaining skeletal muscle mass is concerned, prednisone
treatment is a double-whammy. Prednisone not only has direct catabolic effects
on muscle, but it reduces the anabolic stimulus of DHEA and androstenedione.
Long-term treatment with prednisone may cause loss of bone mass, leading to
osteoporosis and increased fracture risk.
Thankfully, the prednisone treatment has you feeling good enough to consider
training again. Unfortunately, the glucocorticoid treatment means that you
will have to modify your expectations. You’ll need to concede that you won’t
be able to significantly increase your muscle mass no matter how much you
train. DHEA replacement therapy may help offset some of the catabolic effects
of the prednisone. I know that you had trouble tolerating the oral DHEA prescribed
by your physician, but don’t be tempted to experiment with over-the-counter
DHEA in gel and patch form. It’s just too risky. In the United States, DHEA
is sold as a dietary supplement, so it can be purchased without a prescription.
Because dietary supplements are not tested for quality by the Food and Drug
Administration, they often contain less of the active ingredient than promised
and have undeclared substances added. Since the anabolic effects of DHEA likely
result from its conversion to testosterone in the body, you might ask your
physician to measure your testosterone levels. Testosterone is available in
patch form, so you could circumvent the nausea associated with oral supplementation,
if testosterone replacement is appropriate. I also suggest that you have your
bone density monitored to protect against osteoporosis. To minimize bone loss,
be sure to consume adequate vitamin D and calcium (1200-1500 mg per day).
Be careful with vitamin D supplements, though, it is easy to over do it.
Don’t consume more than 15 micrograms per day. Should you begin to lose bone
at an accelerated rate, there are medications available that are effective
in treating osteoporosis. These drugs, generically called bisphosphonates
(Actonel, Fosamax), slow bone loss.
Also keep in mind that now you will be more susceptible to bonking. So, be
sure to drink a glucose-containing sports beverage on your longer rides and
fuel up with carbs after training. Bonking happens to everyone and It will
be hard for you to not look down your nose at your training partners who have
much less of an excuse than you do. And, Eugene, when others start whining
and complaining on those really tough rides, try very hard not to be an elitist
snob. Instead, smile to yourself, because you know what real suffering is
I have been trying to work into a good winter training program after having
a full season of road racing. My last race was in August, and following extremely
consistent riding all season I hit a period of really sporadic riding. As a
result, I now seem to have tendonitis in my right knee (hurts on the inside
of the right kneecap). I have had this before, a few years ago, but didn’t know
what it was at the time, and was very cautious. Over time, the problem just
disappeared. This time, I really don’t want to spend as much time off the bike
as I did last time. I think I can manage the pain, but don’t want to do any
real damage. What is the best way to deal with tendonitis and still get good
base mileage? I appreciate your time! FYI, I am a 26 year old male and participated
in 12 races this year. Right now my style of riding is base mileage, but I tend
to go harder than I am supposed to. I get around 150 to 200 miles per week during
the racing season and maybe 100 to 125 per week in the off season, weather depending.
Thanks for your time, and have a great day!
Steve Hogg replies:
The incidence in the right knee only, always begs the question why only on
one side? As well as following Scott's good advice, get a good structural health
professional to have a look at you. By look at you, I mean with your shirt off
and stripped to your underwear. This way an all of body picture can be gained
of why you are having this issue.
You mention managing the pain. Take it from someone who has a serious knee
problem, knees are hard to injure because the joint is largely comprised of
fibrous tissue with limited blood flow. Because of this though, they can take
a long time to recover once injured, so be careful.
Scott Saifer replies:
Most knee problems are caused by shoe or bike fit or pedaling style issues.
They can also be caused or exacerbated by increasing distances too quickly,
pushing hard gears before adequate conditioning, or not covering the knees
on cold days. So, assuming you have begun to gradually build up base miles,
that you are spinning for your first month or so of rides and that you are
smart enough to wear tights if it is chilly and double tights or tights plus
leg warmers if it is cold, it sounds like you probably have a biomechanical
The best solution is to have yourself watched by an experienced and competent
bike fitting expert. In case you don't have access to one, I'll suggest that
two things which often cause pain in the place you are describing are inadequate
extension (see too low or two far forward) or, if you have flat feet or collapsing
arches, a lack of arch support in the shoe. If you dig through the archives
a bit you will find many excellent posts from Steve Hogg describing setting
the saddle height and set-back. Arch supports can be purchased at a shoe-repair
shop or many drug-stores and are inexpensive enough to be worth trying. The
ones you get need to be firm enough to stay "up" even when you stand on them.
Menopause weight gain/training fatigue
I'm going through the "pause" at age 50, can't lose weight with high miles
and a very healthy diet. I eat: veggies, fruit, whole grains as a general diet
and fuel up for my long rides, 80 miles, with gels so I don't bonk. No mater
what I do or eat, I stay 140-145 lbs. I want to be at least 130. I'm a medium
frame and 5' 6". I recently started running again - 2 miles walk/run and am
on the bike 4 to 9 hrs a week. I am Gaining fat not losing it! Also I am having
more fatigue on the climbs. Can you suggest a good diet for me?
Pam Hinton replies:
The “pause,” as you refer to it, is defined as the absence of regular menstrual
cycles for 12 consecutive months. Typically, women experience menstrual cycle
irregularity before cycles stop completely. Changes in cycle length and frequency
are common. During this perimenopausal period, estrogen level may also be
highly variable and after 3 months of missed periods, estrogen declines significantly.
Menopause, like puberty, is a time of hormonally-driven changes in body shape
and composition. During middle age, women gain an average of 0.5kg (~1 lb.)
per year and menopause does not seem to increase this rate of weight gain.
Some studies have found that women lose muscle mass and increase fat during
menopause, but these changes seem to be due to a decrease in physical activity
as women get older, rather than an inevitable consequence of menopause. Even
if total body fat does not increase after menopause, there is a shift in body
fat distribution from the hips and thighs to the abdomen. In other words,
the “pears” start to look more and more like “apples.” It is the accumulation
of fat around the internal organs located in the abdomen that probably causes
changes in fat and glucose metabolism. Postmenopausal women have higher total
cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides (fat) and lower HDL (good)
concentrations in blood than premenopausal women. These changes explain why
the risk of cardiovascular disease increases in women after menopause. Women,
especially those who gain abdominal fat, after menopause may become insulin-resistant.
In other words, the body becomes less responsive to insulin, the pancreatic
hormone that is needed for glucose uptake into fat and muscle. As a result,
glucose levels become elevated and the pancreas secretes more and more insulin
These changes in body composition and metabolism are not only because of
the direct effects of lower estrogen, but due to estrogen-mediated changes
in other hormones, too. Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-I exert
anabolic effects on bone and muscle and GH increases fat use as an energy
source, by stimulating release of fatty acids from body fat stores.
The good news is that exercise can counteract many of the unfavorable metabolic
changes that occur after menopause by: reducing weight gain, increasing fat
utilization, maintaining skeletal muscle mass, improving cholesterol and triglycerides,
and increasing the body’s response to insulin. Recognize that menopause is
a normal part of the female life cycle and try to accept that a little more
effort may be required to maintain your body weight than before the “pause”.
You might consider incorporating some strength training to maintain or even
increase your muscle mass. Because metabolic rate (the amount of energy you
burn at rest) is proportional to your lean body mass, losing muscle mass decreases
your energy requirement, making it easier to gain weight. Strength training
with weights will also benefit your bones by stimulating bone growth due to
the mechanical stress placed on the skeleton.
Your diet, which includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is a sensible
and healthful one. Dairy products were missing from your list of regular foods,
which means you may not be getting enough calcium. Adequate calcium intake
is especially important for postmenopausal women. In addition to dairy products,
some vegetables, fish with bones, and fortified foods (e.g., orange juice,
cereal) are good sources of calcium. During the first 5-7 years of menopause
women lose up to 20% of their skeletal mass. Consuming 1200-1500 mg of calcium
per day can minimize that loss. Plus, there is new evidence that adequate
dietary calcium (especially from dairy products) can help prevent accumulation
of excess body fat, by promoting fat oxidation.
New shoes and old cleats
hello, im a 20 yr old cat3, 142 lbs (off season weight...137 lbs race weight),
5ft8in. i have a question regarding my cleat positioning. i want to buy a new
pair of shoes (those silver shimano ones) but want to have the same cleat positioning
that i have now on my current shoes (carnac quartz). is there a correct way
of making the transfer so as to not cause an injuires further down the road?
thanks in advance.
Steve Hogg replies:
Have a look at the post entitled 'Ball of Foot' for October 11, 2004 on this
forum. Follow that method and ascertain where the centre of the first metatarsal
joint is in relation to the pedal axle now in your Carnac Quartz's. Once you
have done this you can repeat the process on the new shoes to make sure that
you maintain the same relationship between foot in shoe and pedal axle. There
is one potential trap. The Carnacs you are coming from have a moderately high
heel lift last. The Shimanos you are considering have a lower heel lift last
which in my view is preferable. This means that under load you will not need
to drop your heel as much coming off top dead centre of the pedal stroke so
as to get behind the pedal axle to push forward and down as early as possible
in the pedal stroke.
What this means to you is that even with the same measured cleat position,
the pedalling feel in new shoes is unlikely to feel the same as in the old
ones. Assuming they fit well, they should feel better. If you have any problems,
I'm a 37 year old male who broke his pelvis several years ago. I had an open
book fracture (broke at the pubic bone and the right sacroiliac joint) that
healed a little crooked. You are right if you say I'm twisted. I have found
through trial and error that if the nose of my saddle is turned to the left
a little, I feel straighter. When I ride, I feel like both legs are performing
about equally, although at times I felt like my right leg might be doing more
My back mucles are not symmetrical. The muscle that runs down the right side
of my back to my sacrum is very large, but the left side is not nearly as developed.
If I exert heavily in a ride, I almost always get back pain, presumably from
uneven forces in the lumbar area. Is the difference in my back muscles due to
depending on one leg more than the other, or to riding twisted? Should I try
to even the back muscles out through weight lifting or by making a change on
the bike? What are appropriate exercises to strengthen the back evenly?
Steve Hogg replies:
The enlarged muscle you speak of is the right spinal erector. This over development
on one side is typical where the pedalling forces cause uneven stresses between
right and left sides. It would be a good idea to find someone knowledgeable
to position you who takes a structural approach. It is probably worth you
while experimenting with a packer under the right foot if this is not possible.
Try 3mm for starters and if that feels better, try 5mm and possibly more if
necessary. For every 5mm you pack up under the cleat move the cleat back another
mm on the shoe relative to foot to negate the rocking torque effect.
Two books that you should buy are 'Pilates For Dummies' by Ellie Herman and
'Stretching and Flexibility' by Kit Laughlin.
This is a question for Steve Hogg please.
I have had extensive treatment for tendinopathy of a hamstring insertion in
the lateral aspect of my right knee - inc physio, massage, chiro and injections.
It has eased over the last 6 months but recurs at extreme efforts and at the
end of long rides - effectively stopping me from racing. The other end of the
same muscle (ischial insertion) had tendonitis 18 months ago (resolved with
injection) so is clearly under duress.
It appears I have a flexibility and positional imbalance that causes stress
to my right hamstring and elicits comments from fellow riders regarding the
fact I am leaning off to one side in and particularly out of the saddle (to
the left)etc and the nose of my saddle wears out quickly on the right due to
the rubbing of my leg.
I understand this is very difficult for you to help remotely but can you recommend
someone in Perth WA who could assist?
I expect they would need to see me ride in and out of the saddle under load
in controlled conditions and assess my flexibility and position?
Steve Hogg replies:
From the information you have given me it is a safe bet that your hamstring
problems on the right side is a consequence of your tendency to hang to the
left while riding. By so doing you are increasing the distance the right leg
has to travel to the pedals and probably putting your knee under a lateral
load as well. This pattern of motion is unfortunately more common than is
generally realised. The best you can hope for with a positioning solution
to this problem is to lessen the impact of it. Over the last 5 months I have
posted a lot of stuff about the general solutions to problems like yours on
this site. However, how effective an on bike fix can be depends on the extent
of the problem. A good bike position cannot change you, only how you relate
to your bike. The only person I know of in Perth who may be able to help to
some degree is Rick Churchill of Rick Churchill Cycles. I have met him once
about 7 years ago and don't claim to know him but in the limited time we spent
together, his views about position were sensible. Give him a call.
In my experience there are two basic causes for pelvic asymmetries in a general
sense. I'm not a health professional but am a layman interested in anything
that impacts on the relationship between bike and rider. I say this because
I am happy to be corrected about the detail of what I am about to say, but
the guts of it will hold up. I see a lot of people with pelvic asymmetries
that cause them to drop one hip on the bike while riding. Sometimes any pain
they feel is on the side of the dropping hip. More often any pain they feel
is on the opposite side. This is because generally speaking, we will look
after one side of our body unconsciously and compensate like mad while paying
a physical price for this on the other side. Often, but by no means always,
the protected side is the handedness side.. Nearly every one of what I will
call the hip droppers displays clear physical reasons for this. It may be
hip flexors that are much tighter on one side than the other; it may be a
restricted sacro iliac joint on one side; it may be a measurably longer leg
on one side; it may be the legacy of a heavy crash or fall; there are a host
of possibilities. I position these people to the best of my ability and STRONGLY
suggest they seek a solution to their pelvic asymmetries and often point them
towards health professionals who get results. Most of these hip droppers return
to me at a later date having by their own efforts and the guidance of others,
eliminated the underlying cause[s] for their hip dropping tendencies. I adjust
their position accordingly.
But, and this is a big but, probably 20% of those people STILL DROP THEIR
HIP ON ONE SIDE ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO LONGER A PHYSICAL REASON FOR IT! This
has really caused me to pick a lot of brains and read everything I could get
my hands on over a period of years to try and understand why this could be
Of those what I call problem children, 10% or thereabouts will stop or minimise
their hip dropping by wearing the correct nanometer [colour] of lense in their
sunglasses while riding. 20% of the fibres in the eye play no part in vision
but play a part in balance and proprioceptive awareness. By blocking out the
correct, in an individual sense, wavelength of the light spectrum, some of
these hip droppers can be prevented from dropping their hip. What about the
Well that is where things get a bit interesting. I will explain later. Has
any health professional you have seen to date, asked you to strip to your
undies so than can get a global perspective of how you function? If not and
they have only concentrated on the site of the injury, then you need to stop
seeing the people you are currently going to and find more thorough and knowledgeable
health professionals. Go down that path and see how you go. Most people will
find their asymmetries of function can be addressed like this. If however,
at some future time you are convinced that your core strength and flexibility
is good and relatively even between left and right sides and that there is
no longer a physical reason for your hip drop on the bike, BUT you are still
doing it, here is a diagnostic test for you.
You will need to stand about 400 mm away from a wall while facing away from
it. Fold you arms across your chest, close your eyes and start walking on
the spot and continue for about 60 seconds. Open your eyes and look where
your feet are in relation to the wall behind. Have you started to turn in
If so, repeat the process again. Have you started to turn in the same direction
If the answer is yes, it is likely that there is a neurological basis to
your problem. For conscious actions the right hemisphere of the brain controls
the left side of the body and the left hemisphere of the brain controls the
right side of the body. Conscious actions are apparently about 10% or thereabouts
of our daily behaviour. The other 90% of our actions are unconscious. By this
I mean that we are using the parts of our brain that we do not have conscious
control over. Bike riding and walking are example of unconscious behaviour.
It may be a conscious decision to get on the bike but once aboard no one thinks
about every pedal stroke. We are to a large degree on auto pilot. Under these
conditions the brain hemisphere control of the body is ipsilateral, i.e. right
hemisphere controls right side of body and left hemisphere controls left side
of body. Some people have a hemispheric dominance that is pronounced enough
to cause asymmetries of function. Simply put, the signals from one side of
the brain get through more loudly and clearly than the signals form the other
If after you have gone through all of the above and this is you, get in touch
with the Carrick Institute, www.carrickinstitute.com for name and address
of someone near you who has been trained by them. Their is some controversy
within some areas of the health profession about their methods and beliefs
but I have seen the before and after of enough cases to see that they get
My apologies for the length of this reply but asymmetric function of the
pelvis that manifests itself as a pronounced hip drop on the bike is the toughest
problem on the bike to solve in a positional sense. There have been enough
people enquire knowingly or otherwise about this issue on the forum for it
to be time for their to be a comprehensive answer for anyone interested now
or in the future.
I just read Pam Hinton's advice to Vincent Desmarais re: supplements and I
have to ask, upon what empirical evidence to you base your conclusions? My personal
experiences (i.e., anecdotal) with over 30 years (I'm 45 years of age) of combined
high school/college wrestling, powerlifting (coaching and competing), bodybuilding
coaching and biking (leisure and competitive) experience, has taught me supplements
can be a terrific benefit to meeting fitness goals and overall health. And,
the empirical evidence appears to support these assertions also.
Over the years, I've been skeptical of manufacturers' claims, and thus, I do
my own reading/research, as well as have conducted many double-blind studies
on myself, seeking benefits. My experience is that some supplements are helpful,
for some people. But in the name of fairness, isn't a generalized " The rest
of the time, you are just throwing your money away" statement a bit extreme?
Pam Hinton replies:
Let me amend my answer to the following, “The rest of the time, you are just
throwing your money away--unless, you firmly believe that your supplement
of choice works. Then by all means, continue to spend money on the placebo
effect whether it be in pill, powder, or capsule form.” The power of the mind
cannot be underestimated, if an athlete believes that a supplement is going
to help their performance, it probably will. However, if the ergogenic effects
of that supplement were studied in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
(meaning subjects randomly receive the supplement or an identical looking
placebo treatment and neither the subjects nor the investigators knows who
gets what), you may or may not find a significant difference between the supplement
and placebo. Dietary supplements range from the conventional (multivitamins)
to the everyday (caffeine), exotic (chinese herbs), weird (caterpillar fungus),
disgusting (pituitary extract), and dangerous (ephedra). As I stated in my
reply to the question about supplement use in general, supplements that are
taken to correct a nutrient deficiency will certainly be beneficial. With
a few exceptions, there is little evidence from double-blind, placebo-controlled
studies to support the use of dietary supplements to enhance athletic performance.
A search of PubMed, a data base of peer-reviewed journal articles for the
phrase, “supplements and sports” returned over 500 entries, so “empirical
evidence” exists and most of it finds no effect of supplements on performance.
Even among the few supplements where a performance-enhancing effect has been
repeatedly demonstrated, the magnitude of the effect is relatively small compared
to the sum of the improvements that could be obtained from increased training,
positioning on the bike, or better equipment. For example, take performance
in a 40km time trial. According to an empirically derived, mathematical model
to predict 40km TT performance in novice and elite cyclists: training can
shorten time by 60-420 seconds; riding in an aerodynamic position, 120-150
seconds; riding an aero frame and wheels, 75-105 and 60-80 seconds; ingestion
of a carbohydrate/electrolyte drink, 30-40 seconds; and caffeine may improve
performance by 60-80 seconds. (See the paper published in Sports Med. 2001;31(7):559-69
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