Topics: Hip pain, Shaving your legs, Toe numbness, Left-right leg bias
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I have a problem whereby I moved from SPD pedals on my roadbike (the old style road SPD's) to SPD-r about a year ago. Since moving to SPD-r's I immediately noticed that my feet felt locked into the vertical plane. My left leg is fine but in my right leg I immediately began to have mild lateral hip discomfort. This was mitigated by moving the right cleat to the absolute limit of it's travel to the medial aspect of the shoe and rotating the cleat so my toe is angled away from the midline (consequently my heel brushes the chainstay).
The problem was manageable until recently, as I have increased my training load in preparation for some events later in the year. I now have anterior/lateral hip pain and I feel that I have less stength, or ability to apply force to the pedal and in pulling up on the upstroke - in the right leg.
A little background: I saw a physiotherepist for anterior hip pain last year after a lot of running and squash. My problem is extreme inflexibility in the muscles/tendons traversing my hip joint (r>l). I also ride mtb and I have little problem on my MTB, my perception is that the SPD cleat and pedal accommodates my inflexibility by allowing my foot to rock in the lateral plane when I pedal, but when my foot is fixed by the SPD-r cleat my hip joint must accommodate. I ride toe out on my mtb as well.
Obviously if I return to SPD pedals on my road bike the problem will me mitigated and I can return to full training, however I love my new carbon soled road shoes so much I'm reluctant to swap for a road shoe drilled for SPD cleats (unless you can point me towards some high quality road shoes drilled for SPDs).
My question is: my other consideration was speedplay pedals - given my problem do you consider that these pedals have enough play (lateral rocking etc) to accommodate my biomechanical peculiarity? I'm also considering that a longer right pedal axle may be necessary as my right leg 'wants' to splay more when pedalling. Your advice on pedal selection would be appreciated.
Steve Hogg says:
I'm assuming that what you are calling SPD-R is in fact the current 3 bolt Look style SPD-SL pedals and cleats? If not, let me know. SPD-R's were the now superseded Shimano pattern 2 bolt road pedal with the two bolts oriented fore and aft, not side by side.
The reason you don't have problems of similar nature on your mtb is because the wider crank separation width and more upright torso position are kinder to dysfunctional hips and low backs.
The problem on your road bike is almost certainly lack of foot correction ( arch support and canting) on the right foot (and probably to some extent on the left side as well). With the amount of lateral rocking that is common on Spd's your foot was able to find a position that didn't stress the kinetic chain on that side. The Spd SL's won't allow that play and so now the underlying problem has manifested. Speedplays are not the solution either, as they will only rock laterally with badly worn cleats or bowties (engagement point of pedals which contact cleats).
You can probably have your cake and eat it too with a bit of care. That is, keep your existing shoes and pedals. You will need good arch support and likely some wedging as well. These 3 links will give you the info you need.
Once you've read them, get back to me if any clarification is needed.
Shaving your legs
Pro riders keep their legs looking in great shape under tough conditions. How do they shave, how far, how close etc.
Scott Saifer says:
Each to his own. Mostly electric razors or disposable blades, same as everyone else uses on their faces or armpits. Shaving usually stops somewhere near the lower edge of the shorts, maybe higher on the outside. You don't want to shave areas that get rubbed since that causes ingrown hairs.
I’m a long time recreational cyclist but have recently been seduced by the charms of road riding and been riding a lot more seriously in the last 2 years.
Recently I have been noticing toe numbness on both legs after riding for only a few miles. Previously the problem had been present but generally after 30-40 miles which I attributed to fatigue.
The numbness starts at the toes, mainly on the right foot first, then radiates to the calf and lower back. I have Shimano 105 SPD pedals, and '10 Litespeed C3 road bike. I had the bike professionally fit at the local bike store. I also just upgraded to a SMP pro saddle, hoping that would take care of the problem. But that has not been the case.
I don't know what the conditional is called so I can’t Google it. Hope you can help.
Steve Hogg says:
I need more info. When you say "Recently, I have been noticing toe numbness in both legs." What has changed recently?
In the 3 month period prior to first onset of the toe numbness, did you change your position?
If so, what was changed?
Did you change any equipment?
If so, what was changed?
Have you changed your behaviour in any way; stretching more, stretching less, riding harder; that sort of thing?
Left-right leg bias
I just had a bike fit with motion capture and most of the results were within the norm and required minor fit adjustments. However using s fitcycle it was determined that while in a seated riding position that I had a left leg bias of between 12-16% and while pedaling standing it evened out. In looking at all other variables my tester advised that there was no pelvic rock or other obvious signs as to why this was happening.
Would like to see what you and the panel have for suggestions. My fitter suggestion was to see a PT and see if there is a muscle imbalance due to a dormant muscle group or something else. Also. I should have mentioned that I have no recent injuries and am a right handed person who has always been right side dominant from sight, throwing and kicking.
Thank you in advance for your assistance!!
Steve Hogg says:
I like the question. If your left / right power balance evens out when off the seat then you can largely forget the "muscle imbalance due to a dormant muscle group......" because though possible; it is unlikely that the "dormant" muscles suddenly wake up when you stand on the pedals.
There are three other possibilities. As background, power imbalances usually resolve or improve when off the seat because the rider is no longer locked into as fixed a relationship with the bike as when they are on the seat. That means one of the following explanations is the likely cause.
1. Firstly, the cadence and load that was used can play a part in these things and skew the results. I have a Velotron and test fit clients in their existing position before fitting them. A common pattern that I see regularly is:
At moderate load and cadence, the rider favours the left leg in terms of output. As cadence increases the readings become much closer to 50 / 50, and the cadence range that this happens is usually the cadence range that the rider naturally falls into for TT's or sustained steady output efforts. As load rises and the rider has to force the gear, then the right leg becomes more dominant, with the rider often displaying an imbalance of the same order or more than you have described. Don't get the idea that what I've just described is universal as it isn't, but it is common.
The challenge then is what to do about it and there is no consistent answer. The measures necessary are an individual thing, and on the info you have given me, I can't give you definitive advice.
2. The second thing is lack of habituation. And I'm assuming here that the left / right power imbalance was determined at the end of the fitting session. If not, then ignore this possibility.
When we ride a bike, a precise and complex muscle firing sequence is required to perform the task. This is called a motor pattern. You mention minor changes to your position were made. That means that your physical relationship to the bike was changed in turn requiring a change in motor pattern. Your position can be changed quickly but a motor pattern can take anywhere from hours to weeks to change. I caution all fit clients to ride at low to moderate intensity for 3 weeks post fit. At high intensity, we all try to fall back into patterns of movement we are used to but which are not yet in sync with the requirements of the new position. This lack of synchronisation of motor pattern with new position presents a Challenge to the riders position.
The key thing to understand about a Challenge, is that the rider will ALWAYS compensate by increasing their tendency to asymmetry.
So what I'm saying is that it would be worth your while riding as you are at low to moderate intensity for several weeks, and then having another test session to see whether there has been an improvement. It is quite possible that there will be.
3. The third possibility is the position you hold on the bike is the cause. I know you have had a fit but when you say "I just had a bike fit with motion capture and the results were within the norm.........", you are describing process work, not bike fitting as I understand the term. The result was predetermined. The angle of your bent knee is with in Y range; the angle of your upper arm and torso is with X range and so on and so on.
What that means is that the fitter didn't look at you. He / she used motion capture technology to tell him / her what you were doing and then applied a template of averages to your position. The problem with this approach is not the technology. The problem is the blind application of the 'norms' you speak of. They are averages and may or may not apply to you. The more parameters of position that are addressed using 'norms', the less individually reliable the result and the more the chance of a compounding error skewing the result. Seat height, seat setback, cleat position and foot correction are the major determinants of power output and equality of power output between left and right sides. Bar position will only play a (negative) role if the bar is noticeably too low or too far away. Have a look at this list of links and see how your position fares when compared to the info given there.
I would be interested to hear how you get on. Best of luck.