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Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for June 6, 2005
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.
Blood Lactate testing
Fit for Powercrank revisited
Peroneal tendonitis and cleat position
Hip Flexor stretches
HR, eating, and lactic acid
Blood Lactate testing
We recently purchased the Lactate Pro blood lactate test kit and have scheduled
a test session with our race team. I would appreciate your sharing with me the
best test protocol(s) for determining Lactate Threshold HR and Power using blood
lactate testing. There are many tests based on perceived exertion, ventilatory
threshold, HR/power breakpoint etc, however these are estimated testing methods
that involve too many variables rather than true science - that is why we purchased
the blood lactate kit. The company from whom we purchased the kit promotes the
FACT method which can be found at http://www.fact-canada.com/LactatePro/FactTestInfo.html
We have a Cycleops Electronic trainer that has a LT test mode which allows us
to dial in specific power loads and increase them at prescribed intervals, so
hopefully we have the equipment we need. Now we need the correct testing protocol.
Thanks for your help.
Scott Saifer Replies
There are many useful protocols for determining lactate threshold. Since
you have the ability to set power outputs on your trainer, try starting with
a good long warm up (as you would for a race, say a minimum 45 minutes of
gradually harder riding including a few jumps near the end). The do the following
100W, 1 minute
add 10W every 30 seconds (local or masters racers)
add 15W every 30 seconds (elite racers)
continue to exhaustion, which should take about 10 minutes.
Most riders will peak out between 300 and 500W. Measure lactate every 30
seconds at the end of a stage at a particular power. If your machine is not
that fast, extend the interval time as necessary, but don't increase the power
step size. Far too many times clients have brought me lactate graphs with
such large steps between power levels and such large gaps in heart rate and
lactate levels that all I can say is, "yup, your LT was between 140 and 160
bpm and between 200 and 280W", but nothing more precise. If you can't make
small steps and test lactate on every step, a conconi test or perceived exertion
test is more accurate than your high-tech tester test.
While you are recording power and lactate, record heart rate and perceived
exertion as well so you can identify the heart rate and effort that correspond
to the LT. That way you won't need to repeat the lactate test frequently during
time trials or long breakaway attempts.
Andy Bloomer Replies
Don't want to step on Scott's toes too much here but the way I'd do it is
first of all avoid too much warm up. Yes, you heard correct! The reason being
is that for a lactate test graph to be of any use you need the first one or
two points on the graph to be at baseline or resting levels. If you do a vigorous
warm up your lactate concentration could be well over baseline levels and
(if your subject is particularly well motivated) even over the lactate threshold
(or Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation if you prefer) before you even start
the test meaning you may have to wait for a long time for the concentration
to reduce before you can begin.
The way I would do it is to turn the legs a little to limber up for 10-15
mins or so but no more and at no higher power output than your first stage
of the test, otherwise the lactate sample you take after stage 1 will not
be representative of that stage but of the warm up that you did at the higher
power output. I hope that's clear, what I'm trying to say is that if you warm
up at 150W and then ease back to 100W for the first stage, the lactate sample
you collect will contain a lactate concentration representative of 150W as
it take some time for the lactate concentration to fall.
Start the test at 100W depending on rider ability (possibly 150W for an elite/pro
rider). The test should contain around 7 or 8, four minute stages where you
maintain the same power for the full 4-mins. At the end of each stage take
a lactate sample and record heart rate and power output that it corresponds
to before increasing to the next power for the next 4-mins. I would say you
should increase by 30W per stage or 40W for elite riders. The reason for 4-minute
stages is that research shows it takes this amount of time for the body to
reach steady state exercise, which is crucial to pinpoint the lactate threshold.
I hope I don't upset any of the other experts on the forum here but I would
use30-second stages possibly for a maximal aerobic power test as opposed to
a lactate test, the two are very different. The body will take a little longer
than 30 seconds to establish itself in steady state for the sample taken to
be of any use. After 4-mins, lactate concentration and crucially heart rate
will settle (remember, heart rate takes a little while to catch up with what
the body is asking of it). Incidentally, steady state will only stay steady
BELOW the lactate threshold, once crossed, lactate production begins to exceed
its removal processes and will continue to rise, despite the maintenance of
a steady power output leading to the peripheral fatigue that will eventually
end the test.
The results you should see from, for example, and elite or professional rider
would be roughly as follows:
Stage 1: 150W 110b/min 1.0mmol/l
Stage 2: 190W 120b/min 1.5mmol/l
Stage 3: 230W 130b/min 2.0mmol/l
Stage 4: 270W 140b/min 2.6mmol/l
Stage 5: 310W 150b/min 3.2mmol/l
Stage 6: 350W 160b/min 4.0mmol/l
Stage 7: 390W 170b/min 6.3mmol/l
Stage 8: 430W 180b/min 8.9mmol/l
So, for the rider in the example, the lactate threshold would be 350W at
160b/min. This becomes more apparent when you plot the results graphically
when you see a clear jump in l;lactate concentration on the curve. Incidentally,
not everyones lactate threshold occurs around the traditional 4mmol/l (just
the majority of the ones I've tested). What you should be looking for is a
clear jump where lactate concentration begins to rise exponentially. If you
run the tests and send the results through I'd be happy to interpret them
for you. Hope this helps.
Eddie Monnier Replies
I'll jump in here and hopefully also avoid stepping on toes. I agree with
Andy's comments except I use much smaller increments than 40 watts when doing
a ramp test. If I'm interested in the athlete's power when lactate is at 4
mmol/L and this point falls between two test increments - as it usually does
- then if I use 40W increments I can only say, for example, that their 4 mmol/L
point is between 260W and 300W. That range is too broad both for diagnostic
purposes and for setting training zones, in my opinion.
I tend to use 25W increments if it's the first time I've tested somebody
and I don't have any reliable reference as to where I think their 4 mmol/L
point is. Where I do have a reference point (i.e., we tested before, or I
have power files from their road training), then I will use smaller increments
Dario Fredrick Replies
As you mentioned, many tests out there involve multiple extraneous variables
and are not based on "true science." Before addressing lactate testing, let's
consider why we are testing in the first place. We want to be able to accurately
and reliably predict performance on the bike, including training intensities
relative to that performance. The most valid predictor of cycling performance
Defining cycling performance or a "performance threshold," the most repeatable
criterion appears to be 30-minute time trial power, although some will argue
that 1-hour is preferable. Regardless of whether it's 30 min or 1 hr, we have
a tangible level of performance we're interested in measuring or predicting.
Keep in mind that regardless of blood lactate appearance, the true defining
limit to performance is your maximum sustainable power. (I'll get back to
While power is a direct, immediate measure of cycling workload, heart rate
is also a useful variable. Heart rate is the body's response to cycling workloads,
and despite its limitations, it is an excellent guide for training if used
properly. Ideally, those who use powermeters should use heart rate as well.
Given that powermeters are not always an option for cyclists, heart rate is
suitable and the most commonly used alternative (other than perceived effort).
So we have two meaningful and directly-applicable variables to determine
cycling performance and training intensities: Power and heart rate. Now if
our goal is to determine training zones using a lab-based protocol, we are
looking to accurately and reliably predict 30 min maximum sustainable power
and corresponding heart rate. Otherwise, the best alternative would be to
do a 30 min field test, ideally on a gradual climb, measuring average heart
rate (and power if available).
How does lactate fit in here? Lactate threshold (LT) was born of the false
notion that lactate caused fatigue, or was a direct measure of fatigue. For
more info/references, take
a look at this fitness article. Since lactate does not cause nor directly
reflect fatigue, its usefulness in determining performance is questionable.
OBLA (or 4.0 mmol/L) is not a reliable measure of performance. Furthermore,
LT (using the most common protocols) tends to underestimate TT performance.
If you have a valid power-based protocol that predicts your 30 min performance
threshold, you do not need to measure blood lactate.
However, lactate is not a useless variable to measure. Lactate is an aerobically
metabolized fuel, and our ability to transport lactate into muscle mitochondria
(allowing its aerobic conversion to energy) improves with training. So at
moderate to high intensity, we have an alternative fuel (to glycogen) to take
advantage of. As Andy mentioned, if you see reduced lactate appearance at
a given power output after a period of training, it likely reflects improvement,
particularly, but not limited to, using this aerobic fuel more effectively
at that workload.
Regarding your question about the correct LT protocol, If you do decide after
all to measure blood lactate in your testing, I would agree most closely with
Eddie's protocol approach. Nonetheless, power is your most useful, predictive
variable in testing. Best of luck.
Fit for Powercrank revisited
Your observations about the powercrank are very interesting and I may be making
some of the same conclusions. I originally purchased the powercranks because
I thought they would be a novel way to improve core strength by recruiting my
hip flexors...and I'm a glutton for training gadgets...haven't bought a new
bike in 10 years but serious glutton for training gadgets. Anyway, the first
time you swap the powercranks out for normal cranks the almost unconscious tick
of your legs through the top part of the pedal stroke seems like undeniable
proof that the PC is a magical training tool. However, over the course of using
my powercranks (~1year) I have noticed as my hip flexors became more active
my glutes and quads slowly became less active.
With my normal cranks the unconscious tick over the top stroke continued but
was also accompanied by a set of burning quads-glutes. Whenever I describe what
it's like to ride the powercranks I always tell people this..."It's like starting
to roll a ball downhill and trying to stop it at the same time," ie; one pulls
the crank over the top (rolling the ball downhill) and then on the down stroke
you have to pull-back to prevent yourself from accelerating out of control (stop
the ball rolling down hill). These events become more and more apparent the
faster you spin. For example, in my experience, riding downhill is probably
the most difficult time to pedal because spinning so fast you're basically can
only use your hip flexors to pull up and back.
However, Frank Day makes the case that as you become stronger one begins to
pedal on the down stroke more and dependence entirely for the hip flexor will
fade. This is an interesting idea in that it hypothesises that hip flexor musculature
must catch up before the glutes and quads can be used aggressively again. Even
if this is hooie I believe over-recruitment of the hip flexors is at least situational.
As I said before, when I'm spinning I'm forced to predominantly use my hip flexors.
In contrast, when I'm hill climbing or hammering on the flats I'm not forced
to pull back on the down stroke quite as much.
Instead I find myself having to push and hence I'm able to recruit more of
my glutes and quads. Alas, since I'm wimpy (140lbs) and I spend most of my time
trying to spin at fairly high cadences I feel that my hip flexors will continue
to be over-recruited, resulting in the switching off of my quads/glutes. Hence,
I feel that the ultimate value of the powercrank and me will be in those situational
events: hill climbing and hard on the flats.
In any event, I would also like to question some of your reasoning on how you
feel about the powercrank for exercising one's hip flexors and share my experience
with it and stretching. In your response you make the case that because of our
largely sedentary lifestyles we have tight, underutilised, and underdeveloped
hip flexors and so most people shouldn't overtax them with the use of powercranks.
Wouldn't it make sense that if modern society has taken its toll on our hip
flexors we should seek exercises to off-set these deleterious effects? Provided
it wasn't overdone(as discussed earlier), shouldn't improvements in hip flexor
strength be considered beneficial and an improvement in overall core muscle
strength? Isn't that why you suggest Kit Laughlin books to so many, to help
improve structure. Couldn't Powercranks be considered a novel 'on the bike'
exercise to treat..."Overly tight hip flexors [which are] are directly implicated
or a pre condition or associated factor for much back pain and many of the structural
ills that plague Western society".
I agree the powercrank is a brutal exercise and one could easily injure themselves
if they did not begin slowly. For example, when I first got my powercranks I
took them out of the box, strapped them on my bike and went on a two hour ride,
which resulted in me practically destroying my hip flexor. But, in my own defense,
I'm not really this stupid (stop laughing) I was trying to impress a girl (I
said stop laughing) and since her body now keeps me warm at night, it worked
(told you I was smart). My original plan was to 'take it easy'. Thinking my
hip flexors were too tight I immediately began stretching. two months later,
I began riding the powercrank, and 'taking it easy' and now I'm quite proficient
with them. However, in a little less than a year of stretching I have achieved
what I believe to be no gain in flexibility.
My lack of improvement in flexibility may be due to the fact I'm very flexible
in my hips already from a previous running career were I had developed a 'very
large stride'. As my flexibility hasn't changed since last year my own conclusions
are stretching and flexibility don't seem to play much a role in the use of
powercranks. Also, since, my glutes and quads under-recruit regardless of my
flexibility it seems likely that my squished 'unit' problems are due to the
powercrank. This is even more apparent when you review part of an email Frank
Day sent me Monday morning in response to your and my postings...
Frank Day: "Regarding your saddle sores. This is a common problem with almost
every user. It is impossible to ride the PC's without putting more pressure
on the saddle. Users have commented on two different saddles as really making
a difference here. The fizik Arione being one and the Flow saddle from Saddleco.
The Flow seems like it is the most likely to solve the problem IF you can ride
it without your legs significantly rubbing it, which is the case for 90% of
us. If your legs hit the saddle when you ride then this will probably not be
the best one of the two."
Thanks Frank...so basically, it seems that flattened monster is a result of
powercranking, not seat height - and saddles might help... One last question
before I leave. Have you ever considered conducting a study to compare improvements
in power production with a Steve Hogg fit and powercranks use? I'm sure you
have pretty healthy pre/post- power reading data bank and maybe some long-term
data too. So all you would have to do is recruit a few people who just bought
powercranks. Could be very interesting. Anyway, thanks for your time.
Steve Hogg Replies
Before I go any further, you have taken an inference from my reply that was
unintentional on my part. You say that I infer that the hip flexors are "underutilised
and under developed". This is not so; the problem with many people is that
they are just too tight. As humans have evolved upright bipedal posture, hip
flexors had to lengthen to allow that - ie - to allow our legs, pelvis and
torso to be more or less in a single plane. Look at how much the average person
sits in their life. More than six hours a day for 11 - 13 years at school;
in a car, bus, train or similarly on the way to work; at work for lengthy
periods; eating meals; riding a bike; etc, etc. I am sure that you get the
picture. All of that sitting shortens hip flexors.
One of our general problems as cyclists is a cultural one. We devote a lot
of time developing our engine [power producing musculature and cardiovascular
system] but generally speaking, tend to house this engine in a less than ideally
functioning chassis. Who out there trains their posture with as much enthusiasm
as they train their engine? Not many is the answer. Given all the sitting
that most of us have done from our early years, without ever working on our
posture both static and dynamic, a lot of people have tight hip flexors because
of sitting [slumping], induced shortening of them without ever stretching
them out. Our rib cages provide a framework for muscles to attach to and can
act as a stabilising structure for the upper body for good or ill. The pelvis
does the same lower down for good or ill. What is in between?
The five lumbar vertebrae unsupported by other than the muscles that attach
to them [as well as potentially some of the abdominal muscles that can support
them indirectly by intra abdominal pressure, ie. pressurising the viscera.
This is what happens along with other mechanisms when we have ' core strength'].
This in turn means that the musculature of the abdomen, lower back and sides
below the 12th rib need to be the best functioning in the body to prevent
potential backpain emanating directly or indirectly from the lumbar spine.
For many, these are the most dysfunctional muscles in the body and so the
lumbar spine is prone to stress from any musculature that is overtight that
attaches to it. The psoas attaches to the lumbar spine directly. For many
people the last thing they need is increased pressure on an already tight
muscle group while they pedal a bike in their own dysfunctional way. This
is my beef with Powercrank usage. Most of the people who seek me out have
a problem of some sort. Of the Powercrank users I have seen, some were fine
once some positional tweaking helped matters because they were fairly functional
riders without particular pre disposition to the type of problems I'm talking
about if they used Powercranks sensibly. Others, I felt, had their priorities
wrong. They lack performance and are in a state of discomfort or pain because
of poor posture and all of the problems that can arise from that. Yet felt
that by spending money on Powercranks [and not just Powercranks; a lot of
money is spent misguidedly on 'go fast' gear] they would improve performance.
Instead they were pushed over the edge by this further hip flexor and particularly
iliopsoas enlistment. These people receive a strong message from me that their
priorities need re thinking. The motto here is Function First. This means
sort out body problems and achieve a reasonably functional structure and then
buy 'go fast' bits if that turns them on.
Since your earlier email, Frank Day has taken issue with various parts of
my response to you. Not without some cause but there is a basic disagreement
between us. I am a put up or shut up kind of person and Frank seems to be
of like mind. The upshot of our conversations is that I am likely to be riding
a pair of Powercranks sometime in the future for a lengthy period and a report
on my experiences will follow in this forum. Given the additional info that
you have given in this email regarding your Powercrank problems, you are not
probably someone at risk from their use unless you are still trying to impress
your girl. Your high cadence style is likely the culprit in your not feeling
like there is the glute/quad enlistment that you seek. You are generating
a lot of momentum and the only requirement is to lift the leg moving upward
as with the PC's otherwise of course they fall to the bottom. You might want
to temporarily abandon your high cadences and push harder gears at lower cadences.
That should ease your pressure on the seat because the harder you push down
the less weight you will bear on the seat, as well as promoting more use of
glutes/quads as well as hammies and calves eccentrically.
Peroneal tendonitis and cleat position
Hello. I have read several of your articles regarding cleat position in attempt
to make sense of my recent foot injury. I have diagnosed myself with peroneal
tendonitis (I'm an MD) which I've had for approximately 4 weeks. Although it
could certainly stem from hill running, I am an efficient runner and have bought
stability shoes - thus I believe the injury stems from my cycling and cleat
position. I have spent more time training on my tri bike (a QR Typhoon) and
in my Sidi T1 carbon soled shoes with Look cleats with float (than on my road
cycle Seven with Sidi road shoes and Look cleats with float). I feel that my
foot goes from the 3o'clock position downwards (point of greatest torque) in
a relatively horizontal manner, ie, not plantar - nor dorsi-flexed. While this
certainly feels to generate more power (than on my road bike/road shoes with
more flex), it also seems to place more strain on my outer peroneal tendons.
Does this seem like an adequate assessment? If so, how should I best move my
cleat position in order to relieve some of the torque/pressure off of my peroneal
tendon to enable healing and prevent further injury? Thank you in advance.
Steve Hogg Replies
Firstly I apologise for the delay in replying. Not enough hours in the day
unfortunately. There are a number of questions where it occurs to me to ask
- you imply that this problem only occurs on your tri bike. Is this correct?
If this is so, is a QR Typhoon like the QR's that I am familiar with in the
past; ie steep seat tube angles of 76 degrees and more? Is the problem present
on both sides with similar severity? Have you tried your road shoes on your
tri bike? If so was the problem still present? If so was there any reduction
or increase in severity? Do you have a noticeably varus or valgus forefoot
on either side? Are your feet unusual in any way; flat or perhaps unusually
high arch and instep? Let me know the answers and I will do my best.
Here's the answer to your questions:
You imply that this problem only occurs on your tri bike. Is this correct?
YES. I have spent the past three rides riding only my road bike/road shoes
and my ankle pain has improved a fair amount, leading me to believe it truly
is something with the tri bike/tri cleat. If this is so, is a QR Typhoon like
the QR's that I am familiar with in the past; i.e. steep seat tube angles of
76 degrees and more?
Is the problem present on both sides with similar severity?
-No - only on my left ankle peroneal tendon.
Have you tried your road shoes on your tri bike?
-NO - I thought that given the different set-up on the tri vs. road bike that
I couldn't interchange them. Is this not true?
If so was the problem still present?
-Have not yet tried.
If so was there any reduction or increase in severity? Do you have a noticeably
varus or valgus forefoot on either side?
-No, but I would consider myself an over-supinator. The outers of my shoes
get worn; could also account for the greater strain on my outer ankle/tendon.
Are your feet unusual in any way; flat or perhaps unusually high arch and instep?
-Definitely not flat. Higher arch but not "abnormally" high. The ankle definitely
feels better when I wear my Danska clogs (with higher arch) or my Superfeet
inserts (with arch) - vs. hurts more with flat shoes/especially the T1 cleats
that are flat and rigid.
From my reading, it also appears that for a size 8.5 (39.5) womens cycle shoe,
that my 1st MT head should be approxmately 8mm in front of the spindle. Correct?
I will check out my road and tri shoes to see if they are aligned properly.
Steve Hogg Replies
Here is what I would do in your situation:
1. Ensure to the best degree that you can, that the cleat position fore and
aft, and the rotational angle of the cleats is duplicated with both sets of
shoes. Bear in mind too, that having the cleats in the same relationship to
foot in shoe may mean differences between left and right shoes in relation
to cleat placement on the sole.
2. Once this is done, ride your tri shoes on your road bike and your road
shoes on your tri bike.
3. This will tell you whether it is a shoe problem or a bike position problem.
Given the type of bikes that you have, it is unlikely that you have the same
seating position on both. Am I correct to assume that? The soles on your Sidi
T1 carbon are notably less flexible than on your ' normal' Sidi shoes and
while it is not likely that that is the cause of the problem, it is possible.
If the shoes are NOT the problem, there should be little difference in severity
when you ride the road shoes on the tri bike providing of course, that the
cleat position and angle is the same on both pairs of shoes.
4. Once you have been able to eliminate shoes as the cause [ if indeed you
can], the likely cause is the position forced upon you by your ' forward position'
style Quintana Roo. I find that the style of position required to ride those
kind of bikes is what I would describe as "high maintenance". For some people
they are just not the way to go at all. When you sit as far forward as QR
style bikes dictate, the crank arm must move further forward past top dead
centre in the pedal stroke before the rider can get over and behind the pedal
axle to propel it forward and down. This means for many that there is a larger
' dead spot' of limited leverage either side of top and bottom dead centre
which promotes a ' step machine' style of pedalling with significant force
applied, but for less degrees of crank arm arc than is the case on a conventional
bike. This in turn means the ' on/off style' of pedalling places more strain
on any part of the pedalling chain that is susceptible. Given that you describe
your self as an "over supinator", and have minimal problems on your road bike,
the probable cause of is that the radical forward position needed to ride
your QR either pushes you a little too far in the sense that a pedalling style
contrary to what your ankle can cope with is needed OR that the compromised
pelvic stability typically needed to ride forward position style bikes, causes
you to favour one side or the other while attempting to stabilise yourself
autonomically. In short, I think it likely that you are forced to hang to
the right somewhat on the QR and that this means that you need to supinate
more to have the cleat on the left side flat on the pedal.
You could play around with Lemond wedges to reduce the supination stance
on pedal if this is the case once you have eliminated the shoes and cleat
position as a variable. If you have to do this though, I would try doing a
tri or three on your road bike with aero bars fitted to allow you the same
upper body position as you have when riding the drops on your road bike. Assuming
of course that you have an effective and comfortable road position. Most people
will perform at least as well on the bike and typically run better off the
bike this way, than with a dedicated forward position style bike. Let me know
how you get on.
Hip Flexor stretches
On May 23, Steve Hogg, wrote: "Hip flexors, particularly iliopsoas [iliacus
and psoas], are poorly adapted to upright human posture, and very susceptible
to overload for anyone with a job involving a lot of sitting, or bending forward,
or repetitive activity. In our society this would be the case for a majority,
probably a large majority, of people. Overly tight hip flexors are directly
implicated, or a pre condition or associated factors for most back pains and
many of the structural ills that plague Western society." I was hoping Steve
or any of the panel could explain one or two effective stretching exercises
for the hip flexor. Is there a resource you recommend for this?
Steve Hogg Replies
I don't claim any expertise advising on stretching and would not try to advise
on specifics via email anyway. There are a lot of stretching books out there
with step by step instructions and photos. Alternately, find a good yoga class
or similar. The book I recommend to anyone interested is " Stretching and
Flexibility" by Kit Laughlin. For anyone with current issues with back pain,
I would suggest " Overcome Neck and Back Pain" by the same author. If you
elect to buy either, the best advice I can give is to read the instructions
and cautions thoroughly, and don't just follow the pictures. They are good
books but other panellists may have additional recommendations.
Dave Fleckenstein Replies
Stretching the hip flexor
Photo ©: Dave Fleckenstein
The following stretch is the most effective stretch that I have found for
hip flexor mobilization. The error that most people make in stretching their
hip flexors is that they arch their back (relative anterior rotation of the
pelvis). This places the hip flexors on slack. By performing a posterior tilt
(rotating your pelvis to bring the front rim of your pelvis up), a much more
isolated stretch of the hip flexor occurs. I perform 3-5 repetitions of 30-60
I am adamantly against "Thomas test" positions of hip flexor stretching (lying
on the back, pulling one knee up while the other leg hangs off of the edge
of a table or bed) as the spine is not as well controlled in this position.
There are certainly more effective stretches that I perform with patients,
but they are relatively convoluted and require careful monitoring of the lumbar
I would also state that I am very much in agreement with Steve's comments
regarding the hip flexors, but I find the use of "iliopsoas" to be one of
error, as there are actually two very distinct muscles, the iliacus and the
psoas, each with very different function and anatomy. The psoas is a muscle
that can best be described as the very exquisite integrator of upper and lower
extremity function. The number of patients that I see with pelvic, lumbar,
and thoracic dysfunction and correlating psoas dysfunction is astounding.
I find that often the iliacus is tight, and the psoas is in spasm or poorly
HR, eating, and lactic acid
I was recently on a long ride and decided to refuel about three hours in. I
watched with interest as, for the next hour of the ride, my HR was 10 beats
higher per minute for the same power output. (Note to self: easy on the mid-ride
burritos). While this didn't surprise me, it did get me thinking about what
that meant about HR, blood flow, and lactic acid. My basic question is - should
I drop the intensity so the HR goes down, or should I keep at my endurance power
and ignore the higher HR? My underlying question is - how does the fact the
body is re-routing some of the blood to the digestive system change the body's
ability to clear lactic acid, etc. How does the relationship between HR and
lactic clearance change? I would assume lactic acid clearance is really about
amount of blood (and ability of blood cells to carry oxygen) your body can deliver
to the muscles, so then your 'Threshold' would correspond to a higher HR during
times like eating. In others words, your 'Threshold' would still be the same
power, but not the same 'HR' - but is this right?
Scott Saifer Replies
You are on the right track, but not all the way there. The body does shunt
blood away from muscles and toward the digestive tract after meals during
easy and moderate exercise, but as intensity increases, the blood is shunted
away from from the gut again. This is at least in part why meals that you
could enjoy comfortably at home make you feel bloated and uncomfortable while
on a harder ride with digestion shutting down.
The shunting of blood to different body systems changes with training, so
the only way for you personally to know if your threshold heart rate is different
after a meal would be for you to test it yourself after a meal.
At the beginning of the week I was startled to notice browny-red urine. It
has continued throughout the week although a little better today. (I raced yesterday
and put on 80 km commuting. My stomach is a little queasy when pushing it hard
on my commutes and a little off during the day. Otherwise everything is normal.
No pain etc. I am a 48 year old commuter putting on around 300-400 km a week.
I have been pushing it on my bike as I am doing a little racing for the first
time in my life and I took off 15-20 lbs since Feb. to hopefully improve performance.
I have noticed that I am not as thirsty as normal. Is this just dehydration?
Too much weight loss too fast?
Kelby Bethards Replies
This could be dehydration, but I doubt it. Another possibility is myoglobin,
muscle break down products in the urine. HOWEVER, I think it is more likely
blood in your urine. You need to go see your physician, and they can run a
simple test on a sample and tell you what it is...this is NOT a reason to
panic, but I feel you should have it evaluated further. Infections and other
transient things can cause this, but the list is very long of reasons for
blood in your urine.
I'm writing because something quite worrisome happened to me yesterday a few
minutes into a local race. The weather was sunny, hot (31 C) and somewhat humid.
The pack started off at a fairly brisk pace; no problem there. But after 10km,
we hit the first climb of the race: a steep and sharp wall of about 1.5km. And
that's when IT happened: I seriously ran out of breath. I mean I just simply
could not get enough air in my lungs, like they were tightened by some vice,
or not "expandable" enough. And it hurt! This lasted for several minutes, and
when I saw that I couldn't get back to "normal", I quit the race.
I am asthmatic, and on occasions such as these, I use my Ventolin pump. After
a few minutes, I'm able to get going again. But this time, it just didn't work.
Going 25km/h on the flats was tough, so imagine what it was like climbing. Was
it too much too soon? I'm a fairly good climber and "rouleur". I'm 39, have
a good winter training base, and apart from asthma, I'm fit and healthy and
an experienced amateur racer. Thanks for your comments.
Kelby Bethards Replies
As you are well aware I'm sure, asthmatics can have varying degrees of attacks...depending
on the temperature, the season and so on. Some people may well have attacks
because it is humid, some because it is hot. It sounds to me like you had
an Exercise Induced Asthma attack (also called Exercise Induced Bronchospasm).
Is Ventolin the only med you take and did you pre-medicated before the race?
And, although you may have never had an attack like this one, it could happen
for no good reason and be aware that it can happen again. I guess what I am
getting at, is that you will need to learn the thing that trigger your attacks,
and do a preemptive strike. So, if you know hot/humid weather will make it
worse, you may need to be on a second (or third, or fourth) med to "control"
the bronchospasm when those conditions exist.
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