Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for July 18, 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.
Speedplay roll float
Lower back pain
Hip pain and IT band tightness
Possible sit height issue
Pain only in recommended fit range
Racing after a broken hip/leg
Type II diabetes question
Upper calf/lower hamstring pain
I wanted to thank you for your advice given freely in your columns. You're
passionate about your work which shows through in your well thought responses.
I have (over the past 5-6 months) adjusted my cleats and position slightly according
to your suggestions. It's interesting to note when viewing in a mirror (standing)
my hip line is pretty even now, post adjustments. Before, my left hip was noticeably
elevated and forward and off the bike I experienced a constant throb in my gluteus
medius. Also, my quadriceps was over developed with an underdeveloped gluteus
region. Through your adjustment suggestions, stretching and remaining properly
hydrated, I am now relatively pain free.
I still am playing with the cleat position and have a question that is probably
obvious to you but perplexing to me. I have different placement of my metatarsals
due to different insteps in each foot. I assume this is the reason for the difference
in length in each of the feet. My question- why not take the measurement from
the ankle bone?
Wouldn't this properly line up the knee and pelvis better than using behind
the 1st metatarsal of different length feet?
My next question is concerning crankarm length. I have a 74cm inseam and switched
to 165 crankarms about 1.5 years ago because I was experiencing difficulty getting
on top of the gears on the climbs. I am looking at upgrading to 10 and after
four years of cleaning and taking care of my Ultegra and my husband's Chorus
10, there is no comparison in quality. (His Campy, I think, looks better than
when he bought it, if that's possible!) The two issues - my little hands on
Campy levers may have a problem wrapping around comfortably for thumb reach,
and crank arm length. They do not carry 165's. I am thinking with my cleat position
corrected I may me ok on the 170's.
My question is how long should I give this to experience if this is a good
move and how will my body react if this is a bad move? I may add, my body will
react negatively with 1-2cm off any of my measurements so I will initially go
through pain, I'm sure. It's after that -what should I be looking for? Perhaps
I should wait to try this experiment in winter after racing is done? Any thoughts
are appreciated. Thank you!
Steve Hogg replies
I have thought in the past about what you are saying, but there are a few
practical problems in measuring from either malleolus [the bumps on the side
of the ankle] or the heel. Firstly, the plantar fascia, which is a flat tendon-type
structure, attaches to the rear of the foot and the metatarsal joints. The
type of cleat positioning I advocate reduces stress on this as well as having
a pronounced effect on the musculature enlisted further up the chain.
Briefly, if there is enough foot over the pedal, ankle movement is limited
to a degree that can be well and easily controlled by the calves. This in
turn means that the calves can get on with what I think is their real job
on a road or tri bike, which is to contract eccentrically in concert with
the hamstrings doing the same during the pedal downstroke. Both calves and
hammies cross the knee joint. Working together eccentrically, the net effect
is to pull the knee backwards.
What that in turn means is that as well as the quads working hard to extend
[straighten] the knee on the pedal downstroke, this second extensory mechanism
is also at work PROVIDING cleat and seat position are ok. This, as you have
found, spreads the load over a much larger amount of musculature and because
of where the quads and hammies attach, can aid pelvic stability on a bike
If as in your case, someone with differing foot sizes measures their cleat
position from the heel, they will have pedalling mechanics that may be grossly
different on each side. This may have a negative effect more than their legs.
Experience has taught that the best option in such cases is to get the cleat
position right for each foot separately, and if foot size is noticeable different
and assuming that there are no other complicating factors, to be prepared
to place a shim under the cleat of the short foot so as to gain even extension
of both legs at knee, hip and ankle.
As to why I choose to measure cleat placement relative to first metatarsal;
merely convention. Any publication I have read does this and continuing that
method makes it easier for people to understand. Any cleat placement posts
I have posted are approximate and are unlikely to do anyone any harm if followed.
If I was positioning someone in person, I may depart from the posts slightly
because of other factors.
In relation to crank length and swapping groups - for your 74cm inseam, even
165mm is a long crank. Much as I agree that Campag is generally better made,
the Shimano 10 speed levers are a better bet for what are likely to be your
small hands and fingers. Given the history of problems that you imply, I would
stick to the crank length that you have already. I would get a pair of Deda
anatomic bars in whatever width is appropriate. Deda measure outside edge
to outside edge with the bar sizing and make down to a 38 cm outside to outside
[35.5cm centre to centre]. They are technically a deep drop bar with a medium
reach, but the radius of the bend is quite open compared to a lot of anatomic
bars as well as being situated relatively high in the total drop. What this
means is that combined with Shimano 10 speed STI levers, you are more likely
to be able to get the brake hoods at a comfortable height so as they can be
held without a pronounced bend of the wrist while still being able to reach
the brake levers from the drops.
The only negative with the Deda anatomic bars are the sharp corner where
the anatomic section meets the flat section at the bottom. This is right where
the hand grips the bar in a sprint or off the seat effort and this shape doesn't
allow the bar to fill the hand well. Two or three layers of bar tape in decreasing
lengths place atop each other on that corner will feel a lot better when the
bar is taped with that in place. If using the Deda anatomic bar, position
it so that the rearmost portion of the drops is horizontal.
I don't know you and can't see you, but purely on the inseam measurement
that you have, I would not advise going to longer cranks and would advise
from an ergonomic point of view that you are probably better served by Shimano
10 speed bits than Campag given your size.
Speedplay roll float
I am curious about the effect of "roll" float (of the pitch, roll, and yaw
definitions used in aerospace http://www.bmfa.org/faq/flight_controls.htm) on
I have Speedplay X-2 pedals, and notice that they allow my knee to move toward
the top tube and away from the top tube, while maintaining alignment with my
calf and ankle. I can feel the cleat/pedal interface allowing this movement,
it is not just my foot moving in the shoe or my ankle flexing left and right.
This seems different than I remember from riding Looks two years ago.
My knees are bothering me on and off more this year, and I have a problem with
a very tight "string" of muscle in the outer portion of both calves (Fibularis,
Soleus, or Tibalis anterior muscle). I wonder if the pedal's roll allowance
encourages a misalignment in the knee/pedal relationship, perhaps causing me
to overuse the outer part of the calf.
Also, I have a tightness in the back of my left knee that usually goes away
early in rides. It sometimes bothers my hiking or walking up stairs. When I
pedal, or sometimes when I walk up stairs, it feels like a tendon is mildly
"snapping over" something. If I feel around behind both bent knees, I can feel
a tendon or ligament in the left that is more prominent than the right. When
they are extended, the left is slightly tender. Could it be the Biceps Femoris
Tendon? Since it connects to the Tibalis anterior, maybe it relates to the tightness
in the calves? Thank you for your previous assistance.
Steve Hogg replies
Speedplays are generally a good pedal system but are handicapped somewhat
by having a lesser ability to adjust the cleat fore and aft than many other
systems. You mention that your feet move around more in your Speedplays than
in previous Looks. Depending on the model of Look pedals that you had and
the model and brand of shoe that you have [had?], the quality of the rotational
movement in Looks can vary from quite free to quite stiff. By stiff I mean
that rotational movement is possible but if the rubber plug on the cleat bottom
protrudes a lot, then it can take a small but noticeable effort for the cleat
to move rotationally. Compared to this, Speedplays have a 'free' quality to
their rotational movement. Rest assured your feet are moving around because
some combination of position, your own morphology and cleat placement dictates
It is also possible that the cleat placement fore and aft on your shoes differs
between your Look cleats and Speedplay cleats. If this is the case and your
Speedplays don't allow you enough foot over the pedal, any problems that you
have structurally and functionally are likely to be exacerbated.
What you term "roll" float is also present in Look pedals and becomes pronounced
as the cleat is worn down from walking. As the cleat becomes thinner through
wear, there is vertical slop and there can be "roll" float if the mechanics
of the rider dictate this.
If I had to guess at the reason or reasons for the increased degree of knee
problems you are experiencing this year I would look at the following:
1. Have a look at this post
and this post, and position
your cleats like that. That should minimise your problems or at least eliminate
cleat position as a variable.
2. From what you say, you are overextending the left leg. You need to find
out whether there is a measurable difference in leg length or whether you
are sitting asymmetrically on the seat. As far as leg length goes, the only
definitive way is to have an X-ray taken from the waist down while standing
with bone lengths measured between joint centres. The quick way to determine
how square you are sitting is to look down between your thighs and see whether
the gap between inner thigh and seatpost differs between legs. If the gap
is larger between left inner thigh and seatpost, you can bet that you are
hanging to the right or rotating forward to the right on each right leg pedal
stroke. This causes the left leg to reach further than the right and also
causes the left leg to move laterally to varying degrees to accommodate the
right hip drop.
If you have big thighs and there is no gap between inner thigh and seatpost,
have an observer stand above and just behind you while you pedal on a trainer
under reasonable load with your shirt off. It should be obvious to the observer
which side if any you favour.
Once you have had the X-ray and checked your squareness on the seat, get back
to me with what you found and we'll proceed from there.
Lower back pain
I am a 48 year old who has been cycling for 10 years. Over the years I have
moved my saddle nose back from 3cm behind BB to 7.5cm (kops for me). I still
think I have too much weight on my hands to be comfy on long rides so I tried
9.5cm and adjusted the bars back for proper reach. It was amazing how good it
felt! It's relaxed in any bar position and there's no weight on my hands for
a good natural spin.
And it provides a good aero position with a 2cm handlebar drop. But the price
to pay was lower back pain when I tried to push a little harder. Is this a question
of putting in the miles in low gears until my back gets stronger or have I passed
some limit on advisable saddle setback.
Steve Hogg replies
It is a bit hard to be specific without knowing a lot more about you. How
flexible are you? You say that your seat is 20mm below the seat which implies
that you are not particularly flexible. Is this correct?
If you are tight in the hip flexors, particularly the psoas, moving your
seat too far back without a rise in bar height will cause them to work harder
than they like under load. The psoas attaches to the five lumbar vertebrae
and lowest thoracic vertebrae and this is the likely reason that your back
hurts. That said, given the extent of the change from 30mm behind the bottom
bracket centre to 95mm behind, how long did you give your body to adjust with
low to moderate intensity riding?
If I made changes of that magnitude [and I have] I would strongly advise the
rider to ride only flat to undulating terrain at E1 and no higher than E2
if they have to get up the occasional hill, for a minimum of 3-4 weeks post-change.
Give yourself some low intensity kilometres for a few weeks and then introduce
some harder stuff. If the pain returns I would either raise the bars slightly
or perhaps move the seat forward 5mm and reassess.
As to whether you have passed some inherent limit of setback, it is impossible
to say without seeing you. 95mm is too far back for many and not far enough
back for others.
Hip pain and IT band tightness
Steve, saw your recent post
on Ischeal tuberosity pain and I have a similar issue, but mine is mostly
outside hip pain and IT band tightness on just my left side. While pedaling
and looking down between my legs my right leg comes much closer to rubbing the
seat tube. Does this mean left leg or right left is longer? Or neither, and
it's something else? Thanks.
Steve Hogg replies
The right leg coming closer to the seatpost than the left indicates that
you are hanging to the right to some degree. The answer to the question why
this is so has a lot of potential answers.
1. It could indeed mean that you have a long right leg. A common adaptation
to a long leg [but not the only one] over a lifetime, is to have a right iliac
crest that is anterior to the left. The iliac crest moves forward because
you exert more torque at the hip with the longer leg. As this happens the
hip which is below the centreline of the ilium moves up and back, typically
about 3mm for every 5mm that the iliac crest moves forward. Autonomically
you will do whatever it takes to square up the hips which means twisting the
right one forward.
2. It could have nothing to do with leg length differences and just mean
that you are tighter in the hip flexors [and probably elsewhere] on the right
side. If you take up Pilates, yoga or something similar, this will resolve
the problem for most people in time.
3. You may have a pronounced uncompensated right forefoot varus which is
not present to anything like the same degree on the left. The number of people
like this that I see astounds me. A forefoot varus is a twist through the
mid foot meaning that under no load, the forefoot rolls inwards towards the
big toe relative to the rear foot. Theoretically this should cause lateral
or rotational loads on the knee when pedalling, but a lot of people's autonomic
compensatory mechanism is to internally rotate the entire hip which keeps
the knee tracking reasonably well, but tends to cause the hip to be dragged
forward on the seat.
4. The least likely reason, though I see more than a few, is that your left
brain hemisphere is so dominant relative to the right, that asymmetric postural
changes are the fallout.
If you want to get on top of this, find a good structural health professional,
show him your question and this reply and ask them whether they can assess
you and prescribe a solution based on what they find. If this option is not
open to you, start stretching a lot or take up yoga or pilates.
Recently you suggested using 'triple antibiotic' for saddle sores - could you
please tell me if this is a cream or tablet and is it available 'over the counter'
or do I require a prescription for it? Thanks
Scott Saifer replies
Triple antibiotic is available over the counter in most supermarkets and
drug stores. It's available as a cream or a gel, comes in a tube and is not
expensive. It works well on sores with broken skin. Neosporin is a common
If there is a hard pea-sized lump under the skin, try a drawing salve, also
available OTC in drug stores and supermarkets. If there is a lump larger than
a pea or if the lump is not in the saddle-contact area of your body, consult
Possible sit height issue
I am 37 and a casual rider who is trying to work myself into a more competitive
athlete. I am noticing some slight right knee pain at the bottom of the joint
where the tendon attaches to the bone. This occurs after my more aggressive
Is this a sit height issue, an over exertion issue, or a cadence mechanics
issue? Thanks for your help!
Steve Hogg replies
Is the pain occurring on one side only as I suspect?
If so, the most common cause is either a short leg or not sitting square on
the seat. If there is a measurable leg length discrepancy or, a common compensatory
mechanism is to sit with the hip of the longer leg further forward on the
seat. This means that the longer leg is actually closer to the pedals than
the shorter leg. If the seat height is comfortable for the short leg then
the other will under extend and niggles where you have them is not uncommon.
If you don't have a measurable leg length discrepancy but sit twisted on the
seat for other reasons, the result can be the same as the leg on the side
that is twisted further forward reaches less far.
Here is a test: . Pedal under reasonable load and look at the gap between
inner thigh and seatpost. If the gap is narrower on the side of the knee that
is hurting, then what I have described is likely to be correct. If this is
the case, find out what you have to do to improve your left/right symmetry
and do it. Yoga, Pilates or a visit to a good structural health professional
for assessent would be a start. If the gap is even between both inner thighs
and seat post is even or the pain is on the knee of the other side than what
I have suggested, please get back to me for more advice.
Pain only in recommended fit range
I have a question concerning bike fit that I haven't seen directly addressed
yet. I have been riding competitively since 1987. Almost exclusively on a MTB
until I moved back to the city a few years ago and switched over to a road bike
for obvious reasons. As a MTB rider I noticed how much lower road cyclists seats
seemed to be in comparison to my MTB friends. I attributed this to the steep
climbing involved with MTB riding, but that is pure speculation. I recently
started seeing a Chiropractor, who through x-rays, showed me a slightly twisted
pelvis. Treatments have helped considerably and I thought it a good time to
get a professional fit. The fitter is well respected in our area and has worked
with many cyclists I know.
As I expected, the process showed that I needed to lower my seat considerably.
A lower seat seemed to give me a better balance of power all the way around
my stroke. The problem is the muscles in my rear-end, along the outside and
down to my knees to a lesser extent, hurt and cramp so bad that I can't stand
to be in this position. I forced myself to try this position for a month to
try and adapt but could not. Stretching doesn't help. If I get off the bike
for 5 minutes after a 15 minute warm up it helps temporarily but not completely
or permanently. The only thing that alleviates the discomfort is to raise my
seat again about 1 ½ inches past what the fitter said was my maximum to stay
within the normal fit guidelines. After doing this, all the pain goes away and
I feel great.
My question is really this: Why do I seem to have so much discomfort at a recommended
fit seat height? Are my IT bands too tight or could something else possibly
be the cause? It seems that lowering my seat would help if any muscle group
was too tight. I had my right ACL replaced with a hamstring graft, but this
leg is no worse then the other and this doesn't seem to be the cause.
Steve Hogg replies
If you can't ride without the symptoms that you have described at the 'recommended
seat height', then the seat height recommendation is wrong, at least in your
case. Go back and see the bloke and calmly explain that you paid him money
to do a job and that he hasn't done it well. If nothing else he will be forced
to look at you as an individual rather than stick you in the appropriate leg
length ' recommended seat height' box. This smacks of the ' do it by numbers
' approach to positioning.
When people start talking about "normal fit guide lines" get worried. Normal
for who? Certainly not for people who pedal atypically, or for people who
function differently to the 'norm'. There are plenty who do one or both. If
you tried to ride the recommended height for a month and made no headway at
all, the only problem is the recommendation, not the rider.
Raise your bars the 11/2 inches that it takes to relieve the pain, raise your
bars the same amount and let me know what happens.
Racing after a broken hip/leg
Hi, to cut along story short, I got hit by a car in June 2004. I had lots of
nasty injuries, which I have recovered pretty well from. My question relates
to my hip and leg. As a result of the accident I broke the head of my femur
at the hip joint and broke my femur in two in the middle (all in the same leg).
I now have a femoral nail down my right thigh, coming in at the top of the hip,
going down to just above my knee.
I was keen to start racing in the 2005 season, but my surgeons strongly advised
me against it. As apparently another heavy fall and break in the leg with the
nail in would result in even more serious damage to my leg and an extended recovery
of years, obviously not worth the risk for a weekend warrior for the sake of
missing one season. However it's looking like I'm going to be keeping the pin
for longer than I'd hoped, probably well into the start of the 2006 season.
My question is what's the worst that could happen if I race and crash on this
leg/hip. Are the risks really so great?
I imagine Joseba Beloki had similar treatment after his horrendous fall in
the 2003 Tour. But he is still racing and I believe he still has the pin in
his leg. I'm aware there's always the risk of crashing when I ride, but the
likelihood is greater in road races. Also how long do you think I should give
it after having the nail removed and starting riding and racing again? Thanks.
Kelby Bethards replies
That's a tough one. I know it's hard to resist the urge to start racing.
Not everybody's bones are the same. Also, not every fracture is the same.
Sounds like you had a pretty serious fracture. You are correct in assuming
that Beloki had a bad fracture. However, he does this for a living and therefore
is willing to incur the risks of re-fracture. His breaks may have also been
The risks of refracture are, but not limited to failure to heal the bone
properly, additional, multiple surgeries and so on. If the bone is broken
again and can't heal well, then you may end up requiring a lot of repairs,
and eventually end up with a leg length discrepancy. Each time an operation
is performed, there is a risk of infection, and bone infections are hard to
heal. So, yes, the risks are real. It is likely that you would be ok in a
crash, BUT, that is a risk you have to discuss with your Orthopedic surgeon(s)
and decide the best timeframe for you to start racing again.
My son is just 10 and enjoys track cycling, competing with 12 year old kids
at Newport Velodrome, Wales. He's only been doing it for a few months now, and
I would be interested to know your thoughts; with children, how important are
warm up stretches as there seems to be no culture of this in cycling here. It
is taken that warming up with a gentle cycle for 10/15mins is sufficient. Also,
what about stretching hamstrings etc afterwards, or is children's flexibility
not a problem? Thanks in anticipation.
Jon Heidemann replies
I imagine via your question, you will find experts with several differing
opinions on stretching. While each will provide some evidence, whether through
scientific study or direct experience, that argues their points, most coaches
and athletic trainers will support stretching to maintain flexibility in regards
to athletic performance and injury prevention. As a director of a junior cycling
program here in the US, we stress that stretching in athletics, regardless
of which sport, is important. Though children are generally more flexible
than older athletes, they are not "immune" from issues related to inflexibility:
athletic performance and injury prevention.
Our general routine is to cycle easy for about 10~15 minutes, then follow
our "warm" stretching routine (we advise not to stretch "cold" muscles). Having
"warmer" musculature seems to help get a deeper stretch with less soreness.
Generally, the kids are usually not sore, but on occasions like the beginning
of the season or for a new athlete, they may be experiencing some slight muscle
There are many great books on the market about stretching. One of the best
we have found is a book by Bob Anderson called "Stretching" (http://www.stretching.com/).
It contains sport specific stretching routines for before and after workouts
as well as wonderful guidelines to use while stretching. Good luck.
Type II diabetes question
I would appreciate your feedback on diabetes issues. I am a 55 year old male,
5'9", 215lbs., and a BMI of 28. I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes several
years ago. I do weight training sporadically and cycling at the gym. My question
is I would like to lose weight before I start road cycling. Please give me ideas
on diet, how many calories before and after exercising and how long the exercise
sessions should be. I would appreciate any tips or help you could offer. I have
checked with my family doctor and he stated that he is not up-to-date on latest
techniques. However, he is an avid cyclist and recommended your website. Thanks
Kelby Bethards replies
I will let the dieticians field your diet questions…but I wanted to suggest
another thing you may need to consider.
Have you spoken with your MD about an exercise stress treadmill? I don't
know how much cardio type workouts you do currently, but I would suggest you
speak with your family doctor about having he/she do the stress test, if you
don't do much cardio at present. The treadmill test helps us evaluated your
heart under load, and we can observe the EKG changes that accompany that increased
stress and hopefully tells us if it's safe for you to run your heart at "redline".
Upper calf/lower hamstring pain
I am a 31 year old male, 6'1'', and weigh 185 lbs. Last year I was a weekend
rider going for 90-100 miles, but stopped riding once the weather turned cold.
Through some convincing of a friend, I have decided to enter a race in Lake
Tahoe (http://www.laketahoemarathon.com/Bike.html) and in June started to ride,
perhaps, an aggressive training schedule. I rode 25 miles Tuesday, Wednesday,
and Thursday morning at a medium/hard intensity, and 40-60 miles on weekend
days. After several weeks, I started to develop pain in my upper calf, lower
hamstring of my left leg.
I feel pain during the ride, but it becomes more evident after the ride, especially
when I have to bend my leg to do something such as put on a pair of pants. Have
you heard of something similar? I have read several articles, but nothing that
seems to match my description. Any suggestions?
Steve Hogg replies
From what you say, it is very likely that you are overextending on that left
leg. If you have a reasonable cleat and seat position, the hamstring and calf
work together eccentrically to pull the knee backwards. This aids the quadriceps
in extending the knee. However, if you are overextending pain can be the result
in any of a number of areas including the one you are experiencing. Which
one bites you depends on your own tendencies and proclivities.
First check the position of your foot over the pedal and make sure that you
have the same relative position of foot in shoe over pedal. Note this is not
necessarily the same thing as having the cleats in the same place on the sole
of each shoe.
Next, when next on the bike, have a look at the gap between inner thigh and
seat post. If the gap is larger on one side, then you are hanging to the other
side and not sitting squarely on the seat. From what you have said, it is
likely that you hang to the right [most people do to varying degrees] and
that the gap will be larger between left inner thigh and seatpost.
If this is so, you then need to determine whether it is because your seat
is a little too high forcing you to automatically make a choice about which
side you will protect, or whether it is because of left/ right asymmetries
of function in the hips and lower back. If you stretch regularly, you will
already know whether you are noticeably tighter on one side or the other.
If you do find as I suspect that the gap is bigger between thigh and post
on the left side, drop your seat 3 - 5 mm and see if that evens up the gap.
If not, then you have some work to do in becoming more functionally symmetrical.
If you need more info on this, just get back to me.
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