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Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for August 13, 2008
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.
Jon Heidemann (www.peaktopeaktraining.com)
is a USAC Elite Certified cycling coach with a BA in Health Sciences from
the University of Wyoming. The 2001 Masters National Road Champion has
competed at the Elite level nationally and internationally for over 14
years. As co-owner of Peak to Peak Training Systems, Jon has helped athletes
of all ages earn over 84 podium medals at National & World Championship
events during the past 8 years.
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. Clients range from recreational riders and riders with
disabilities to World and National champions.
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.
Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com)
is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado
Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic
Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist.
He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with
multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.
Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked
team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport
athletes around the world.
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.
Michael Smartt (www.wholeathlete.com)
is an Associate Coach with Whole Athlete. He holds a Masters degree
in exercise physiology, is a USA Cycling Level I (Elite) Coach and is
certified by the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist).
Michael has more than 10 years competitive experience, primarily on the
road, but also in cross and mountain biking. He is currently focused on
coaching road cyclists from Jr. to elite levels, but also advises triathletes
and Paralympians. Michael is a strong advocate of training with power
and has over 5 years experience with the use and analysis of power meters.
Michael also spent the 2007 season as the Team Coach for the Value Act
Capital Women's Cycling Team.
Earl Zimmermann (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
has over 12 years of racing experience and is a USA Cycling Level II Coach.
He brings a wealth of personal competitive experience to his clients.
He coaches athletes from beginner to elite in various disciplines including
road and track cycling, running and triathlon.
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.
Hip damage and leg length
Unresolvable knee pain
Climbing and power to weight ratio
Hip damage and leg length
I'm 68 years old, and cycle for pleasure and fitness. I'm 6 feet tall and weigh
around 70 kilos.
Unfortunately, just before Christmas I came down on black ice and suffered
a double fracture of the pelvis plus a fracture of the right hip socket, caused
when the head of the femur rammed into it.
I was in traction for two months and rehab for four.
The surgeon who initially put me into traction said that I would never ride
again and that I would need a hip replacement in three to four months.
Happily, I made an exceptionally good recovery, and am now walking normally,
albeit with a slight limp. A different surgeon, to whom I went for a second
opinion, has said that I will not need a hip replacement for two - five years,
and that it's a good thing for me to go cycling again.
I've been riding a trainer bike for a month, and the effect on my right leg,
which was badly wasted, has been enormously beneficial. As far as I can tell,
my training sessions do not cause the kind of pain which would suggest that
I am causing further damage to the recently healed hip. My resting heart rate
is back to normal at around 48.
However, it's clear to me that the right leg is now around 10mm shorter than
the left, and that the hip has lost some rotation.
What should I do to deal with this when I eventually get back on my road bike?
Steve Hogg replies:
Sorry to hear that you hit so hard but happy to hear that you are exceeding
expectation while recovering. A shim under the cleat of the shorter leg would
be the best solution. There is no magic formula as to how many mm to use.
As your problem stems from the hip / femur which doesn't point directly down
when seated, you shouldn't have to completely compensate for the entire 10mm
that you think you are lacking.
What you want is a shim stack that will allow you to reach fluently through
the bottom of the pedal stroke while not causing you problems over the top
of the pedal stroke. Assuming you are reasonably functional in the hips and
lower back, a shim should work well but you will need to experiment a bit
to find what best suits you, particularly under load.
If you are handy, you can make one. If not, contact Bicycle Fitting Systems
www.bikefit.com as they have purpose made shims.
One thing to remember is that as you shim up the cleat, you are increasing
the work that your leg will have to do to stablise foot on pedal with the
increased stack height of shim plus cleat. To negate or largely negate any
problems with that, I suggest that you move the cleat a couple of mm further
back on the shoe than your current position once you fit the shim. I would
be interested to hear how you get on.
Unresolvable knee pain
I have two issues (possibly unrelated) I need some advice about:
1. I've noticed over the course of this season (my third riding / racing on
the road) that when I lie flat on my back, as to go to sleep, my very lower
back is uncomfortable, and it seems that my spine is quite curved, as if my
hips were rotated forward. I theorize that tightness across the front of my
hips (I'm unfamiliar with the muscle(s?) scientific name(s), but the one(s)
that would allow you to lift your leg forward) is rotating my hips forward,
putting strain on my spine. If, lying on my back, I lift my knees so my feet
are flat on the floor, the back discomfort disappears. Also, I have no back
pain on the bike, despite a fairly aggressive position.
Does this seem like a correct analysis? If so, are there any effective stretches
for this area that you could recommend?
2. Weird, unresolved knee pain:
Preface: I've read through the vast majority of your articles on fit, and have
actually been fit by no less than two members of this panel, with no luck resolving
The pain that's come and gone for over two years now is on the upper-outside
of my left knee. IT Band related stuff. I've seen a PT and worked on my flexibility
(as related to all the stuff attached to the IT Band) quite a bit, and I'm convinced
my flexibility is much better, if perhaps not perfectly ideal. Still, the pain
has come back. Rather than dwell on every detail of my fit, I'm going to go
to the one weird bit that I think might just be the cause of it all:
As measured, my left foot is 6 degrees varus. The forefoot tilts down to the
outside visibly. My right foot is neutral. Experiments with my foot wedged to
accommodate this, however, show that under load my foot rotates back towards
a neutral position--i.e. I can't apply power with my foot in the position it
The position that has worked the best has been to have both feet wedged the
opposite way, vargus, but I don't see how this could be correct.
Finally, back in middle school I has a spiral fracture to my left Tibia skiing.
No one has seen a noticeable leg length discrepancy, but I can't help but wonder
if some resulting misalignment is causing my problem.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
David Fleckenstein replies:
The first issue that you describe is hip flexor tightness. Our hip flexors
(psoas, illiacus, and rectus femoris) run from the front of the vertebrae
and pelvis to the femur (or tibia in the unusual case of the rectus). If those
muscles are restricted, they pull the spine forward into an increased lordosis.
When you are lying down and you bend your knees, your spine flattens because
the hip flexors are now on slack.
Restriction in these muscles is a common source of pain and pathology for
cyclists. In previous posts, I have given instruction for how to stretch them.
Regarding your second issue, I am concerned that if you have marked hip flexor
tightness, you probably do not have adequate ITB length or pelvic stability
and I would further examine this with your therapist.
Steve Hogg replies:
The muscles you are talking about are your psoas. If they are overly tight,
what you describe can result. Why they don't hurt on the bike and when you
pull your knees up in bed is that they aren't being stretched. Why they hurt
when you lie on your back in your bed with your legs extended is that you
are stretching them more than their current flexibility will allow comfortably.
I've got to say that if your psoas are so tight that laying in bed is a problem,
you've got some work to do. That's fairly dysfunctional. Do something about
them or seek advice on how to do something about them.
Re: "weird unresolvable knee pain." You may well be right about some after
effect of your skiing accident. The hypertonicity of the psoas may also play
a part because the psoas plays a part in the internal rotation of the hip.
The difference in foot plant that you have between left and right usually
goes hand in hand with pelvic asymmetries so it is worth checking that out.
The way that the left foot comes back to what you describe as 'neutral' under
load suggests that your apparent 'valgus' reading is more the result of a
long time pelvic obliquity with or without a leg length difference. The left
foot feeling better with a valgus wedge may because:
That is what you need
You are sitting with right hip down on the bike causing the left leg to reach
further and to have its plane of movement challenged .Sometimes a valgus wedge
tidies up that up even though it wouldn't be ideal with a square pelvis.
Lastly, theory and practice about appropriate foot canting with cleat wedges
is at odds. It isn't as simple as X degrees of varus or valgus = a certain
number of wedges or particular direction of canting. What I'm saying is that
your experience with wedges isn't rare. While there is a method that is definitive,
it doesn't lend itself to explanation in a Q & A forum like this. If the wedging
you used felt more stable under foot, use it that way. As you improve your
incidence of back pain, don't be surprised if you need to revisit the wedging.
Climbing and power to weight ratio
The Garmin Chipotle official website lists Christian Vande Velde's weight as
being 69 kg's and David Millar's as being 77 kg's, an increase of approx 11.5%.
For David to climb as well as Christian would he therefore have to put out at
least 11.5% more power than Christian at lactate threshold in order to keep
in the lead group or are there other factors that also come into play?
United Arab Emirates
Scott Saifer replies:
So long as we are talking about a long climb and the riders with the highest
power-to-weight ratio are pushing the pace, yes, the heavier rider has to
produce proportionally more power at threshold to maintain speed.
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles