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Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject?
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Fitness questions and answers for November 29, 2006
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.
Leg length discrepancies
Track bike versus road bike
My question is regarding the fore/aft road bar position. I have everything
else set to all your recommendations (with success). I've been told two ways.
The first: when seated with hands in the drops and elbows slightly bent, looking
down with only your eyes not tilting your head, the bars should intersect or
block the front hub. The second: when seated with hands in the drops and elbows
slightly bent, looking down tilting your head, the bars should intersect or
block the front hub.
Scott Saifer replies
The short answer to your question is 'neither'. Why would you suddenly need
a longer stem if you got a fork with more rake? Why would someone with stubby
arms and a long neck need a long stem? The bar-blocks-hub concept is a quick
and easy way to get close for most riders, but not a good way to settle on
a final stem length. In the old days we said that if you placed your elbow
against the saddle nose and your finger tips reached the bar, that was a touring
fit, if there was a 2cm gap, that was a racing fit. There are lots of these
fitting tricks, (knee over pedal spindle, whatever that means,
fixed knee angles at full extension (with the ankle at what angle?), back
part of bars (which you never actually use) horizontal) that sound good but
come up short when you try to apply them to a wide variety of riders.
See these previous posts on saddle
fore/aft position and stem
Steve Hogg replies
Neither method you mention has any merit when applied to a large range of
riders. There are too many individual and equipment variables. Just to mention
equipment for a moment; if your bar has a longer or shorter reach (and the
current range of road bar reaches is nearly 25mm) then you will need differing
stem lengths for the same reach to the drops. This will move the relationship
between top of bar and front hub but not alter the riders position in the
drops. If you have a steeper or less steep head tube angle, or a fork with
greater or lesser offset, then those differences will also alter the relationships
between top of bar and front hub without necessarily changing rider body position.
So forget what you have been told.
What you need to be able to do is reach your bar drops with ease while being
able to look ahead comfortably. When you think you have achieved that, perform
a hard 20 minute effort at TT pace with hands in drops. Are the drops easy to
reach under that load after 20 minutes?
If not, there is still work to do with either bar position or seat and cleat
position. Forget the formulae. They are probably correct for some combinations
of frames, bars and riders and incorrect for many others.
Leg length discrepancies
After reading many of your articles on fitting and leg length discrepancies
I thought I needed to drop a line. Most of the posts deal with short lower legs
however in my case I have a 5mm short left femur and 3mm short left tibia for
an X-rayed total of about 1cm. I'm a 25yr old cat 2 racer logging about 650hrs
per year. I have excellent flexibility and core strength. My hips are relatively
stable in the saddle to do my body compensating for leg length through changing
leg angles such as heel drop.
I have been fitted by many professional fitters, only to change what they have
done and follow my bodies intuition as well as respond to input
from people such as yourself.
Things that I have recently done in response to your writings; move my Speedplay
cleats all the way back in my Sidi size 43 shoes, move my saddle backwards a
total of about 1.5cm from being all the fore on a zero setback post, move from
a 130mm stem to 110. I maintained my saddle height when moving the saddle backwards.
In the past I have experimented with any combination of a short left crank,
forward left cleat, 1mm-5mm of shims, left cleat with greater Q angle than right.
None of these have seemed to do much, currently I have 2-3mm of lowering in
the left cleat, no varus adjustment. I have custom orthotics in both shoes with
forefoot medial posting.
My symptoms include:
1. Chronically tight left ITB and left lateral hamstring and tissue between
ITB and hamstring. This required weekly deep tissue massage to prevent maltracking
of the patella, over time these muscles begin to pull on patella and cause knee
pain. Adjusting Speedplay Zero cleat to prevent toes pointing out has helped
this issue to some degree as it has seemed the the left leg wants to rotate
toes out which tightens the left lateral hamstring (tibial rotation).
2. The left leg has a much larger degree of plantar flexion throughout the
stroke than the left leg, as the two legs try to compensate for difference in
length. (right heel drops much more than left)
3. Left leg and stroke has never felt as powerful and smooth as the right.
4. Occasional ITB pulls on periosteum of tibial plateau causing extreme pain
upon contact or skin pressure, usually resides after deep tissue massage 3days
The main thing that hinders my comfort is the development of tight tissue in
the left leg quadrant, especially left lateral hammy and ITB, which eventually
lead to sub patellar pain and maltracking.
Steve Hogg replies:
Re your 1: The symptoms you experience are indicative of over reaching with
that leg under load and probably from favouring the right leg to some degree.
To explain further, we all tend to favour one side autonomically. This is usually
but not always the right side. If a rider is really functional, this may be
almost imperceptible but it is always there. When there is a challenge though,
whether by less than ideal function, poor bike position, perhaps in your case
a leg length discrepancy, or whatever else may be the problem, the tendency
to favour one side becomes more pronounced. To get to the point, can you confirm
that you sit squarely on the seat?
The best way to find out is to ride your trainer indoors under load to the
point where you are fatiguing. Have your shirt off and have someone observant
stand on a chair above and behind you and have them look down at your hips and
Re your 2: I have seen a small number of riders with a short leg do as you
describe effectively and at little or no cost long term, but I have seen a larger
number pay an unacceptable price in discomfort of tendency to injury.
Re your 3: That is because I suspect it is more than over reaching mildly,
but being dragged towards the centre line by you favouring your right side.
The answers to the questions I asked in 1 will confirm this or otherwise.
Re your 4: Same again as 3 is the likely reason.
A bit more info - there is a high correlation between a long leg and a large
degree of forefoot varus on the same side that is either not present or is much
less on the other side in my experience. What I am getting at is how were your
cycling orthoses prescribed?
If they were prescribed after watching or videoing you walk or run on a
treadmill, then there is a 50% chance that they aren't helping you on the
bike and may be part of the problem. This is because your leg length discrepancy
will alter your foot plant at some level when walking. But the way you stand
and the way you sit and their effect on leg extension and the angle your feet
come at the pedal may not be similar.
The other thing is that a 5mm femur length difference is not a lot. The femur
never points at the ground so it is rare that it has to be compensated for
fully. The 3 mm lower leg difference is another matter. The lower leg mainly
points at the ground though and usually has to be fullly or compensated for
assuming (not a safe assumption) that the rider sits squarely on the seat.
I think the approach you should take is to find out whether you are sitting
squarely which will give me info to get more of a picture of what you are
doing and then I can advise step by step from there.
Track bike versus road bike
Is there an article posted somewhere where it states the different riding positions
one should take when preparing their track bike as compared to their road bike?
If not, then what are some general guidelines? Should you have it set up almost
the same as your road, save for a slightly lower/more forward seat position?
Or should it be completely different? As in a smaller frame (top tube wise/stem
wise)? Any help would be appreciated.
Steve Hogg replies
Have a look at this post
on track bike fitting. That should answer all or most of what you have asked.
After reading that, if you have specific queries, get back to me.
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles