I thought I was in good shape but a single session with Alex transformed my ease of performance and so improved my ability to ski, cycle and play football...
Kevin, Beconsfield

Are You Aching On Your Bike?

In this article I am going to put questions of bike fit to one side and turn focus toward our ability to move well.  When people come in to see me about aching on the bike, being sore post ride or not just performing well, the majority of the time the expectation is to book a bike fit, make adjustments to the bike and ‘voila’, the the ailments go away.  Unfortunately it isn’t always as easy as that (not knocking the huge value a good bike fit can have), so I just want to shift your attention for a moment to an area that I feel is more commonly missed or inappropriately handled.

In order to function well, good quality movement is key. To understand our movement quality (think movement and not muscles), we have a number of fundamental movement patterns that we must be able to squat, bend, push, pull, rotate and lunge.

Daily movement uses all of these patterns. Getting up in the morning, sitting at the desk/table, reaching into a cupboard and more specifically, cycling, running, gym to name a few.

Now, if the quality of one or a number of these patterns are altered, a compensatory effect occurs.  This effect may be in the reduction of strength to protect a susceptible joint or muscle, or a reduction in range of movement of a joint to protect stability of an area. With these compensations comes what we call in the trade ‘sub clinical episodes of dysfunction’.  What that means is that every time we do a movement or activity whilst in a compensating state, there is a stress response put upon a specific area joint, muscle, tendon….. The scary thing however, is that we don’t feel this happening, and can continue to occur for weeks, months or even years before we feel anything. And even at that point a slight ache or stiffness is ignored.  Put this into a cycling context and repetition is accumulated pretty quickly.

“ 60 mins of cycling at a cadence of 90rpm = 5,400 repetitions”

You can see how quickly we can accumulate these numbers.

Cycling uses pretty much all of the above movements at some point whilst on the bike.  If I were to put one movement above the rest I would choose the squat.  Whilst you might think that we don’t squat whilst on the bike (in purest form we don’t), thinking outside the box, there is massive similarity.  On the whole our ability to squat is reflective on our ability to pedal well.  I have never come across an efficient cyclist who cannot squat well.

In order to achieve a good squat we must have good quality of movement through the foot and ankle, hip, lumbar spine, thoracic spine and cervical spine. Pretty much covers the whole of the body doesn’t it?

How well do you move? Do you know what moving well should look or feel like? I hope that this introduction article has given you food for thought.  Prevention is the key to enjoying a trouble free ride and performing to your best.  If the time for prevention has been exceeded, then we must go down the Rehabilitation route.  Either way a movement screening to ascertain movement quality has the same start point for both.

Don’t let your squat be the down fall of your cycling career, get yourself checked before it’s too late.

Footnote: As part of our comprehensive bike fit package, we complete a full movement appraisal – for more information click here

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