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Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel

Carrie Cheadle, MA ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 any geography.

David Fleckenstein, MPT ( 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 ( 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 other end.

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 a coach.

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.

Fitness questions and answers for September 12, 2005

Calf pain
A good structural health professional
Torn ACL
Cleat wear
Does licking sweat limit cramping?

Calf pain

I am a 40 year female who has just taken up road cycling in the past five months. Prior to getting on a road bike I was a commuter cyclist for the past three years. I have had issues with calf muscle soreness as a commuter but it was managed with massage therapy.

For the first 4-6 weeks on the road bike things were fine, I could ride for up to four hours with no resulting calf pain. Then it became so chronic that an easy ride of 45 minutes would produce intense post-ride soreness in both calves; not just in one spot but the entire length of both calves. I have a cycling coach who has fitted my bike. I have a physio who thinks that the problem stems from my SI joints being immobile thus preventing my gluts from firing. She figured all of my power was coming from my calves.

The past few months I have had lots of treatments and the joints are moving much better. I have embarked upon a core strength and conditioning program with our club coach. Still, I cannot do an easy ride for under an hour without calf pain. I should add that I often don't feel pain on the ride; it's afterward that the soreness sets in. I think we are missing something here? I don't know if it is the pedals or shoes? Maybe I need to have the seat further back than it would be for a conventional fit? Any ideas on what else might be causing this calf soreness?


Laura Sinnott

Steve Hogg replies


I need more info. What brand, model and size of shoe are you using? What brand and model of pedals are you using? Do you have particularly high or low arch feet? You mention seat setback. How was your current seat position determined? What is your natural pedalling technique under load; heel dropper, toe down or somewhere in the middle? Do you ever stretch your calves? Let me know the answers to those questions and I will attempt to advise.

Laura then responded:


I wear Shimano SH-R097W shoes, size 5 US. I use Look pedals A5.1 with the float set to 3. I have high arched feet. My fore/aft position was determined with my coach, I believe she was looking at the line from my ear down, I assume there is an optimum place where it should fall.

In the beginning I was a toe down pedaller, big time. I was told to correct that and at first was likely overcompensating and dropping the heels too much. This was definitely addressed a few months ago and about six weeks ago I had my coach come out and ride with me specifically to look at my pedalling. She didn't see any excessive heel dropping - I do ask anyone riding with me to look at this and none of the riders can see anything glaring.

Lastly, I do stretch my calves daily. Thanks for taking the time out to help, it is greatly appreciated.



Steve Hogg replies


Thanks for the info. Feet with high arches tend to be more rigid than lower arched feet. If cleat position is too far forward, the plantar fascia, achilles tendon and calves will all load up with possible discomfort felt in which ever is the weakest link in the chain.
If the cleat is too far rearwards, there is no fluidity at the bottom of the stroke and problems can also be caused by the resultant 'jerk' at the bottom of the pedal stroke under load.

Have a look at this post and this post. Set your cleats up as per that info and get back to me with how you feel once you have had a few rides. It's probably a good idea to switch your pedals to the 6 degree setting in the meantime to have more margin for error. If by following the advice in those two posts above, you need to move your cleats substantially back or forward, you may need to change your seat height a little. Down a few millimetres if the cleats move back a long way and forward a few mm if the cleats go forward a long way.

Once the above is done, it will improve things to some degree assuming that cleat position is indeed the problem. Let me know how you go and we will proceed from there. I am a little surprised that your coach felt the need to change your pedalling technique but I will leave that between you and your coach. As to "she was looking at the line from my ear down"; could you expand on that as it is not something I have come across before.

A good structural health professional

Hello all,

"Find a good structural health professional who can assess you"

I frequently see this recommendation in your advice - and it's sound advice since it's really hard to diagnose via email! But...exactly how would you suggest I go about finding one of these structural health professionals who can assess me?

I checked my local yellow pages, couldn't find any under that listing! Thanks.

Scott Braden

Richardson, TX, USA

Scott Saifer replies


This is an excellent question. There are probably other solutions, but I personally sent an email to several cycling and triathlon clubs asking for names and contact information of members' favorite doctors, massage therapists, chiropractors, sports-testing centers, physical therapists and so on. I got several dozen responses and now have a list to share with my clients. The names that came up multiple times with good comments I share with confidence. If you have access to a cyclists email group for your town or region, you could do something similar to what I did. If you attend group rides or club meetings, bring a pad and pen and ask the question. if you have no contacts, try looking up the specific headings I've mentioned in your yellow pages.

Torn ACL

Hi there,

Four weeks ago I was hit by a car whilst cycling to work. The result was a broken right NOF (neck of femur) and a torn ACL. The right nof was fixed with two screws and a nice 15cm scar...however the torn ACL has been ignored for the moment, much to my disgust.

When asking the common doctors they told me that I might not need surgery on the knee as "famous football players are playing without surgery". What I would like to find out this true? can an active cyclist (not just to and from work) cycle with a torn ACL? As far as I know, it is completely torn - but as you can tell I am not confident in the doctors at all.

All the readings that I have come across are relating to football, basketball or rugby players. As I am none of those I am a tad confused in what I am being told or lead to believe. Your thoughts or ideas are greatly appreciated!

Mark Hoyer


Steve Hogg replies


You will get more definitive info from Kelby and Dave but I have been riding with a badly damaged ACL [or medial ligament for that matter] for over 30 years. The state of knee reconstructions in the early '70s was not good and I elected not to have the op but to get on a bike instead. You will need plenty of foot over the pedal as per this post and this post. This will help you use your hammies more. Seat position needs to be back far enough so that you can support the great majority of your weight on the seat.

It is worth seeing a Chartered Physiotherapist with podiatric experience, preferably one who is a cyclist and has an interest in cycling to assess your foot plant and other issues that may cause unnecessary strain on the damaged knee.
If you need more info, let me know.

Cleat wear

I have to confirm your cautions about cleat wear and its effect on setup, as said in the latest fitness column.

I ride Look pedals, floating Delta cleats. After setting up my position with your suggestions (to correct knee pain) I clearly got it right, as the pain vanished. For me, this meant a pretty radical heel-out float for my left foot.

I touch down most often with my left foot. Now, after a summer of riding, the left cleat is well worn on the outside, and my natural float is far closer to neutral. Still no knee pain, but it appears that I have worn a wedge on the cleat that corrects my natural pronation (or whatever it is).

I suspect that when I replace the cleats, I'll be swinging far out again, unless I put a wedge under the inside of the cleat.

Larry Klose

Green Valley (near Tucson), AZ.

Steve Hogg replies


From what you say it is worth experimenting with a few wedges under that left cleat. If you can prevent the degree of internal hip rotation that you describe, your body is likely to like you more over the long term.

Does licking sweat limit cramping?

Being a heavy sweater I am always attempting to limit the possibilities of cramping during a race. Over the past two seasons I have been licking my arms when I feel cramps coming on. My question is, how much does this really help? Am I actually helping the situation or is it just mental? Thanks.

Brad Huff

(Elite National Crit Champion...and yes I did lick my arm at Crit Nats!)

Pam Hinton replies


I take this question seriously not only because you are the current U.S. Elite National Criterium Champion and because your girlfriend is one of my teammates, but also because I know how seriously you take your racing. Take my answer with a grain (or lick) of salt because a lot of assumptions were made in the calculations:

The rate of forearm sweating (in a trained male) is 30 mg of sweat per cm2 per hour. The area that you lick is close to 2.5" x 8.0" which is 129 cm2. The density of sweat is 1g per mL. The concentration of sodium in a salty sweater like yourself is 100 mmol per litre.

Do the math and you come up with 9 mg sodium per forearm per hour. It would take 10 forearms worth to get the amount of sodium in one Endurolyte capsule or in 8 ounces of Gatorade. Sodium is absorbed from the intestine and appears in the blood very rapidly. So when you find yourself in the waning miles of a long, hot crit with no other magic in sight, lick away.

It will help at least this much.

But of course this will start a trend, which will give ill-informed sports reporters another question to ask right after the one about shaved legs - why exactly do you guys lick yourselves so much? With luck, perhaps you'll be able to stake your claim to this coming trend by being the first to matter-of-factly state the benefits of "Huffing." I have a feeling, however, that your local Missouri rivals on Team Big Shark will coin a much more colorful term for this maneuver.

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