Getting the most out of Pedal Power this Summer
Cycling is becoming more and more popular in the UK. We can get on our bike for a family bike ride, to commute to work, to participate in a sportive or even a vintage bike ride. This is why we love it! Everyone can get involved and it is jolly good fun.
However we do see a few common injuries in cyclists due to the repetitive nature of the activity. These include low back pain and nerve sensitivity, ITB friction syndrome, patella femerol joint dysfunction, ulna nerve palsy and hip pain.
The good news is that most of these injuries can be avoided with appropriate consideration to bike set up, biomechanics, technique and training loads. Furthermore we want to be efficient so that our efforts transfer to forward momentum.
The pedal stroke is made up of 2 phases- the power stage that starts with the pedal crank at 12 o’clock and the recovery phase, which starts at 6 o’clock. The power phase is initiated by the hip extensors (glutes primarily), the quadriceps contribute the majority of force, with the planter- flexors assisting towards the end of the stroke. The recovery phase is initiated by the dorsi flexors that bring the toes back up allowing for greater gluteal recruitment at the start of the power phase. The hamstrings also pull through much of the recovery phase. We need muscle balance and mobility of the low limb throughout these phases.
If the saddle height is too high- this can put increased load on the low back and neural tissues. Lateral displacement is then needed in the saddle which does not enable a solid triple extension (hip- knee- ankle) pattern and flow of forces.
If the saddle is too low this can increase compressive loads at the patella femerol joint (knee cap) and lateral epicondyle of the knee (ITB band). Overload to the tissues around the hip can also occur.
Frame size and handlebar position are also important so that you are not over reaching and putting too much stress through the wrists- this can cause ulna nerve palsy/ numbness. Cleat position and float also need to be considered.
So how to prevent these injuries?
Physio can help to assess the cause of pain and identify any contributing factors- this will include looking at joint mobility, neural tension, muscle length and strength. Physio can look at your bike set up and technique so ensure they are appropriate to your anatomy and biomechanics. If you are pretty serious about cycling, training loads, supplementary training and trade off with aerodynamic efficiency can also be explored.
We can do all of this for you at embrace. We have a fully equipped clinic with turbo trainer to see you in action. Book today.