Fitness questions and answers for January 30, 2005

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Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at fitness@cyclingnews.com. Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

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 any geography.

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 other end.

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.

Brett Aitken (www.cycle2max.com) is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his www.cycle2max.com website.

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.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach with Richard Stern Training. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and is USA Cycling Expert Coach. Michael has been a competitive cyclist for over 10 years and has experience coaching road and off-road cyclists, triathletes and Paralympians.

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 MyEnduranceCoach.com, a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find a coach.

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.

Beta-blockers and riding
Calculating heart rate
Lower back problems
Rotational cleat adjustment
Optimal cycling weight
Medial knee pain
Cycling and sciatica
Aerobars
Plantar Fasciitis
Male health issues

Beta-blockers and riding

I am a 33 year old male, fit cyclist, with cat. 3 potential but cat 5 experience. I tested recently and found this all out because I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and mild hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. To combat this the cardiologist prescribed an ACE inhibitor (lisinopril 10mg), and a beta-blocker (atenolol 25 mg).

I staggered the medication starts and am more or less accustomed to both now, however one side effect that cropped up after I began the atenolol is that my heart rates across all zones dropped by about 10 or 15 beats. So now at all stages, whether resting on the couch, free-wheeling to the training ride, warming up, or pulling a hard 20 minute effort, I am seeing lower heart rates than before.

My question is: What do I do with this?

I reach hyperventilatory threshold faster, but I can ride just as long and with roughly the same effect as before. My power is the same if not slightly better, and I recover even faster from the efforts.

Should I adjust my heart rate training zones to reflect the new reality? Should I continue to regard my max heart rate as it was previously, or should I adapt to the newest achieved max hr?

When tested, the doctor recommended much more training at medium and long endurance zones, from 65 to 80% of max hr. Now, if I abide the old heart rate max of 184, virtually all of my training time is spent in those medium and long endurance zones. Is that correct? Or should I adjust to the new max hr of 170 (so far) and train at 65-80% of that number? Did the medication correct me? Was I broken before?

Chris Baldwin

Russia

Scott Saifer replies

I hope one of the other panel members with more relevant experience will jump in here. My thought is that you should use your apparent new maximum heart rate and threshold heart rates to create new zones and use them. This means your new zones will be lower than the old ones in terms of heart rate. You might find it difficult to go slowly enough at first. It's okay to go slowly enough to obey them. The other possibility is to use power rather than heart rate to regulate your workout. If you determine your zones based on power, and recheck them periodically, you don't need to worry about changes in heart rate zones with different medications.

Kim Morrow replies

Chris,

I'd suggest adjusting your heart rate zones based upon the new effects of the medicine you are taking. This is something you should confirm with your doctor, but let me share my experience in training clients who have taken beta blockers.

From my previous research on beta blockers, I recall that they blunt the stimulating effect of the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) on the heart. This therefore reduces the heart rate and contraction intensity which decreases the oxygen requirements of the heart.

Beta blockers, which are often taken for hypertension, normally result in a decrease in heart rate. In fact, the beta blockers have been known to cause a decrease of up to 20% in the resting and training heart rates.

After a doctors approval to do so, I have my athletes on beta blockers perform a 30:00 LT field test, while taking their medication. Again, only after the doctor's ok! We then set up their training zones based on this test, AND we add a RPE (rate of perceived exertion) scale to go along with these HR zones. For example, zone 1 may be "very easy" and zone 5 may be "very, very hard". If they have a power meter, then we would also use those results as well. So, I think the important issue is to establish "new" training zones as a result of the medication, while on the athlete is on the medication. So, when you set up your "new" training zones, make sure that you are taking the medicine as the doctor has prescribed, as this will affect the test results. I have especially found the importance of an athlete being more aware of their perceived exertion while taking any kind of medication.

One other note, I set up my athlete's training zones based on their estimated Lactate threshold (by performing a 30 minute field test.) I prefer this method over setting up training zones based on a percentage of the maximum heart rate. Hope this helps.

Calculating heart rate

Greetings from Earth,

I recently purchased a new heart rate monitor because it has percentage of max HR display mode. I was surprised to discover that it calculates the percentage of max HR using the formula
HR = p x Max (call this formula 1) (where p is the percentage as a decimal, Max the max heart rate and HR is the current heart rate). In this formula, 0% corresponds to a HR of 0 (also known as death or soon-to-be dead).

I have always used a model where 0% corresponds to the resting heart rate (rest). This model would be HR = p x (Max - rest) + rest (call this formula 2). In effect, the percentage multiplies the functional range of the heart rate.

My concern is accurately calculating my effort based on percentage of heart rate for endurance events. The 70% -75% zone is critical as is the 60%-65% recovery zone. There is a significant difference between these two formulas in these zones.

Example: Let Max = 195 bpm, rest = 40 bpm. Using these numbers:

Formula 1: HR = p x 195
Formula 2: HR = p x (155) + 40

For 75%:

Formula 1: HR (75%) = .75 x 195 = 146.25 bpm
Formula 2: HR (75%) = .75 x (155) + 35 = 156.25 bpm. This is a difference of 10 bpm!

For 65%:

Formula 1: HR (65%) = .65 x 195 = 126.75 bpm
Formula 2: HR (65%) = .65 x 155 + 40 = 140.75 bpm - a difference of 14 bpm!

Or hammering at 80%:

Formula 1: HR (80%) = .8 x 195 = 156 bpm
Formula 2: HR (80%) = .8 x 155 + 40 = 164 bpm - a difference of 8 bpm!
So, assuming one knows their maximum heart rate and their resting heart rate, how should one calculate their heart rate as a percentage? Have I been working at too high of a heart rate? I'm concerned. Personal Info: 39 years old, male, 170 lbs, 5' 11", ultra marathon cycling and obsessive climber.

Jim Strange,

Carson City, Nevada, USA

Dario Frederick replies

Jim,

Resting heart rate is not relevant if your goal is to determine training intensities, and I do not recommend basing training zones on maximum heart rate. From a purely practical standpoint, determining HRmax is physically difficult and at times impossible. HRmax also varies with training and declines with age. More important to training application, heart rate zones are not fixed percentages of HRmax.

For example, take two hypothetical cyclists, cyclist A and cyclist B each with a HRmax of 195 bpm. If we were to use percentages of HRmax to determine training, such as 95% of HRmax as one's performance threshold, we assume that both cyclists will time trial at about 186 bpm. It is possible however, that cyclist A has a threshold heart rate of 186 bpm and cyclist B of 176 bpm. In a time trial effort at 186 bpm cyclist B will likely blow up after about 3-5 minutes. Cyclist B's training intensities would be skewed as well.

A preferred method for determining heart rate training zones would be relative to an individual's performance threshold (maximum sustainable 30 minute output). Rather than performing a 30 minute time trial each time you want to determine your training zones, a valid performance test that reliably measures your performance threshold is a relatively easier method of measurement that also provides power data at various training intensities.

Lower back problems

Steve,

I've been having some issues with my lower back that I'm not sure is related exclusively to riding (for one thing the problem does not disappear if I stop riding), but I do think that riding can aggravate the issue. This problem seems to be isolated around the facet joints affecting the muscles there - If I were to ride with my saddle nose tilted up it would definitely aggravate it to give you and example.

Some background:

I purchased at your suggestion the book by Kit Laughlin and have been following his stretching advice for some time. It definitely seems to help, to a point.

I have been seeing a chiropractor who is well versed in deep tissue work and structural analysis. I have had both legs measured and it appears that they are the same length within a millimetre or two. Though when I first went in my pelvis was tilted - If I closed my eyes and marched in place and then stopped, my hips were shifted to the left so that my right hand rested on my right thigh and my left hand was a few inches away from my leg. Adjustment, massage, and stretching have more or less evened me up now.

My left hamstring is tighter than my right. My right hip flexor and quad is tighter than my left. My right hip is tighter - when crossing my legs in a figure 4 (traditional way a man would cross his legs) my left knee will drop a few inches further than my right.

My bike setup is pretty standard with my knee falling about a centimetre behind my pedal spindle and I can take my hands off the drops for a brief period without shifting forward - at least when my back is not hurting. Right now I have a shorter stem with a higher rise than normal to keep me from having to bend so much - I was basically reduced to riding stiff armed on my old setup due to lost flexibility in my back and subsequent loss of flexibility in my hamstrings. I have the saddle nose slightly turned down - not so much that I slid off the front when riding no handed, but enough to help me rotate my pelvis forward. I have been using the same shoes (Carnac Legend) for six years and I have a shim (single thickness of water bottle material) under my right cleat (I use Time pedals). I started using this shimming method in the late 80's when I had an ITB problem with my right knee and have never stopped. This shim is only on the inside of the cleat so it angles my right foot in much the same way an orthotic would and is only the thickness of one ply of a water bottle. Not sure it even does anything, but too superstitious to remove it now.

I have noticed the following about the bike. I use a Flite saddle and the titanium logo on the outside middle of the saddle is almost worn off on the left side, but not the right. Also, my front tire is worn slightly more on the left (my left as I am riding) then the right. While riding my knees/legs seem to be the same distance from the top tube and I cannot see that one knee is forward of the other (toward the handlebars).

So I know that with this incomplete information you cannot make a totally accurate diagnosis. I'm just looking for your first impressions based on what I have written and ideas of things I could look for. As I said, off the bike I am pretty straight now - pelvis square and legs the same length, and I am working on evening out my flexibility differences, but I feel that riding the bike tends to pull me out of wack (now there's a scientific term) over time and I'm at a loss as to why.

Any light you can shed on the subject would be much appreciated.

Kevin Burnett

Steve Hogg replies

Kevin,

You have given me enough info for me to have a good stab at this one. Everything you say is consistent in my experience with a tendency to favour the right side in the sense of dropping the hip forward and down. This is usually associated with a right forefoot varus to a degree not present on the left. The tighter left hamstrings and right quads and hip flexors is characteristic of this commonly, especially if you have been riding like this for some time as you have.
Which is the chicken and which is the egg in terms of the right forefoot varus and asymmetric pattern of tightness I don't know and ultimately it doesn't matter providing you tick all of the appropriate self improvement boxes.

Here is what I would suggest. Find a podiatrist with a gauge to measure forefoot varus. You will be surprised how many don't have one and use methods that have poor reliability in the sense that two practitioners will often get different degrees of varus with the same client and the same practitioner will often get different degrees with the same patient at different times. Once you have found a podiatrist who is properly equipped, check the forefoot varus of both feet. I suspect you will have much more on the right foot than the left, but to offer advice, it would be nice to know this rather than guess at it.

If you do have a greater forefoot varus on right foot than left, it will probably pay you to increase your wedging under the right cleat. Another measure that will probably help is to point the centre of the nose of the seat at the outer right hand edge of bar clamp of the handlebar stem. If as I suspect, you are sitting with your pelvis twisted forward on the right hand side, this will square you up to a greater or lesser degree.

Also try a shim (not a wedge) under the left foot to take some pressure off the left hamstrings. They are probably tighter only because the right side hip drop makes the left leg reach further than it likes. Try 3mm as a starting point. Above all, keep up the stretching and whatever else you are doing in the quest for reasonable functional symmetry. The straighter you are off the bike, the more likely you are to be pelvically square on the bike.

Rotational cleat adjustment

I have read a lot of the messages about cleat adjustment and they all seem focus on fore and aft adjustment of the cleat. Do you have any suggestions on how to fit them for the rotational and side to side adjustment?

Nick

Steve Hogg replies

Nick,

There are two aspects to this.

1. Rotational movement. Cleats should be fitted so that under significant load the angle of the cleat on the shoe is such that there is an equal range of potential movement either side of that foot on pedal position. I say under significant load because many peoples angle of foot on pedal changes when they are nailing it compared to cruising around. Ideally though, there should be some movement, equal or otherwise, either side of their naturally dictated foot on pedal position at low load as well. If both can't be achieved, that person needs a system with more free play or some other intervention.
2. Side to side, i.e. how far in towards the crank or out the other way the cleat should be. Some pedals have significant ability to play with this. Some have none or next to none. There are rules of thumb for this like the centre of the tibial tuberosity should descend over the second MTP joint and the like but for many people it is a matter of trial and error.

Generally speaking, the closer the foot is to the crank arm (meaning the further outboard on the shoe the cleat is) the better for most people. But there are a significant number of exceptions to this. People with exceptionally wide hips, people who are very tight in the external rotators of the hip etc. For this reason I don't think it is good to make a blanket recommendation other than if you are interested have a bit of a play and see what you prefer.
My body likes my feet to be as close together as can be achieved on the pedals, but I have met many exceptions.

Optimal cycling weight

I've been riding/racing for the past couple years - I'm a relatively new cat 3 racer and I'm 25 years old. My height is 5.8 and I weigh around 145lbs. Although my weight/height ratio seems to be reasonable (or is it not?) for my level, I feel like I have more fat to lose. Most of this fat is concentrated in my (lower) stomach area and has proved to be very hard to get rid off. What is your take on it? Should I worry too much about it, and would you have any suggestions on how to get rid of it?

Jason Till,

Bakersfield, CA

Dario Frederick replies

Jason,

I wouldn't worry about it at all. At your racing level, your greatest gains in performance should come from improving your power and endurance, and how you expend your energy in races. Losing weight may mean slightly less resistance when climbing, but you are already fairly light relative to your peers. If you increase your sustainable power, even without decreasing weight, you will go faster on both climbs and on flat terrain. If you follow a sound training regimen, eat a balanced, nutrient rich, whole-food diet that keeps you well-fueled during training and racing and allows you to recover well, you will likely find that your weight will balance itself out.

The common overemphasis on minimizing body weight in competitive cyclists, particularly at the amateur level, can result in poor eating choices, high variability in power output and adverse psychological effects. For some body types, it is not reasonable to expect to achieve a low body weight relative to ones height and stay healthy. Good health, resistance to illness and high energy levels are more important than fighting to lose a couple of pounds. Best of luck in the 2006 season!

Scott Saifer replies

Hi Jason,

I have accumulated a list of heights and weights of top World Level professional riders, and for 5'8" riders the average is about 140, with riders up to 150 excelling in sprinting and time-trial type events, and riders as light as 130 excelling at climbing. If you are hoping to be really competitive at hilly races you will need to lose more weight.

If you do choose to lose more, don't do it rapidly. Someone your size can probably lose at most 1/2 pound per week and maintain good energy and recovery for racing and training.

Ideally you'd have someone who knows nutrition review a diet record before changing your eating, but put simply if you are already training about as much as you have time for, you'll need to decrease calorie consumption to lose weight. The first thing I would suggest cutting would be sweets and high-carb, low nutrition foods like white bread, chips, pretzels etc. If you're already eating a healthy cyclists diet (lots of fruits vegetables and whole grains, lean meats, fish and dairy; very little sugar, white flour, white-rice, potatoes) then the next step is to look at portion control. If you look at a plate of food and it looks about right, out a little back.

Medial knee pain

I am male, 178cm tall, 62kgs and 41 years old. I started riding more and using clipless Look pedals (red cleats) about a year ago. I ride around 200km per week. The last nine months or so have been tough getting used to the clipless pedals. I have seen physios, sports medicine doctors and orthotic specialist and spent hours on the internet.

I am a daily stretcher, following Bob and Jean Anderson's stretching programme for cyclists.

My problem has been right medial knee pain often acute at times plus inner calf tightness. So far I have discovered that the problem is a combination of a need for my right heel to angle in a little, right foot pronation, varus angulation of the right knee and a right leg approximately one cm shorter than the left. For the last two months I have been using a more supportive insole for the pronation from Specialized and three Lemond Wedges to counter act the varus angulation and angled the cleat to allow my right heel more inward movement. The improvement was dramatic but I felt that my right leg still wasn't as good as my left and after a period of exertion, say a long climb, the bottom half of my right leg both calf and shin would tighten up so much that stretching and 10 minutes rest was required.

As a result of this I investigated further and discovered the leg length discrepancy. The orthotic specialist has now made me a 7mm (tapering to 5mm on the outside edge) inner sole which I have just started to use. The logic being that the extra stretching/reaching of the shorter right leg was causing it to strain and fatigue more quickly. It is probably too soon to determine the impact of the inner sole. (Note; he also made up a similar inner sole for my normal shoes)

Is this the most efficient way of overcoming the problems I have been having? The new inner sole means my toes are now more squashed than before and as I use Shimano 151 road shoes which have a fairly wide fitting at the toe, I don't think another pair of shoes is the answer. One solution, I thought of is to 'move the effect of the insole outside the shoe' and to use more Lemond wedges stacked to compensate for the leg length discrepancy in addition to the 3 I am using for the Varus angulation. Is there a limit to how far your foot can be from the pedal or how high the stack can be? I have already trimmed the wedges but at times have trouble unclipping on the right side, I am concerned that more wedges may also make this worse.

Your advice of the best way to deal with the combination of pronation, varus angulation and leg discrepancy would be most welcome.

Andrew Taylor

Steve Hogg replies

Andrew,

You are on the right track. What you are saying in effect is that the advice you have been given is to have a 5mm shim with a further 2mm of wedging on the inside edge of the shoe (edge nearest the crank arm). You can do this by counter stacking the appropriate number of Lemond wedges for the 5mm shim and using others as your 2mm wedge. This will give you a lot of Lemond wedges under your shoe and increases the likelihood of them moving relative to each other and your cleat coming loose. There are a number of possible solutions.

1. Do it all with Lemond wedges but glue them together so that you have a solid block with 7mm under the inside edge of the cleat and 5mm under the outside edge of the cleat. If you go this route, trim a little off the nose of the Lemond wedges as this makes them less likely to foul the front of the pedal when entering the pedal.
2. If you are hand with tools, get a current Look Delta cleat, grind off the tab at the front that fits into the pedal and grind off the raised sections on the front and rear of the cleat. You will now have a shim that is approximately 10mm high. Now grind it down so that it tapers across the shoe to the thicknesses that you want. If you do this, remove the rubber pad from this cleat. Now you have your one piece wedge/shim.
3. Buy one of those cheap white nylon type cutting boards that are about the thickness that you want. Mark a Look cleat outline with the 3 holes as well and cut it out and either use this as you shim with Lemond wedges as your wedge or with a grinding wheel, make it taper to the thicknesses that you require.
Whichever way you choose, you may have to trim the height of the rubber plug in the centre of your Look cleat. Fitting a shim or wedge underneath Look cleats often makes this protrude more than normal and can make pedal entry more difficult as well as stiffening the quality of the rotational movement.

Check out this cleat mounting suggestion and this one and position your cleats fore and aft like that. This will increase the stability of the foot in the pedal. Lastly, for every 5mm you pack up the cleat, move the cleat 1mm further back than suggested in those posts. This will help maintain that stable feel on the pedal.

Cycling and sciatica

I am a 46-year-old female and have been spinning and cycling on my mountain bike for about four months. I love it and do not wish to stop. I have been experiencing pain and stiffness in my lower left back and my hip is uncomfortable and painful at night. Should I stop exercising?

Sharon

Steve Hogg replies

Sharon,

You may need to in the short term but the better option is to find out why this is happening. Do you have access to anyone who can cast an experienced eye over your position on the bike?
If yes, do so. If not, contact the local cycling clubs and find out who they suggest.

There is any number of reasons for what you are experiencing and most of them are easily resolved. But as one new to the sport, you are likely to need a bit of help to resolve this.

Aerobars

Hi,

I'm a 22 year old male, about 140lbs and about 6'2. When I found myself getting into riding a lot more, I bought myself a nice 2005 Trek Madone 5.2 SL, Sidi Genius 5 shoes and Ultegra pedals and was doing as much riding as I had time for. Since Christmas I've taken a break from riding because I've had back problems for as long as I remember - due to cycling as well as some other activities (I am a decoy for K9's so I take some violent bites from police and sport dogs that introduce some serious muscle ache into your arm trying to wrestle with 85lb German Shepherds). These problems seem to have become more apparent.

Having switched from a mountain bike to a road bike that is properly fitted to me has made a huge difference, but on longer rides I am still adding to existing back problems. I went to see my physical therapist today for the first time in a year; he told me that he'd like me to use tri bars on my bike in future, since it'll put me in a position that alleviates a lot of tension from my mid-lower back being able to rest my elbows on something and not spreading my arms to the sides of the handlebars all the time. It makes sense to me, but I'm curious as to how practical aero bars would be for me. I tend to change gears a lot, and, although I like to ride in places that don't require a lot of braking, I do need to use my brakes every once in a while.

Does using tri bars seem like a good idea for me? I tend to do anywhere from 15-40 miles on a single ride usually, shorter rides are between 8 and 10 miles long with an average speed of about 18-24mph depending on the slope of the road, the road surface and the wind resistance. I don't want to look like a dork by not being a "hardcore cyclist" but still having fancy tri bars on the bike; but as with everything you wear to cycle comfortably, if it helps my back on long rides, then so be it!

Mike

Steve Hogg replies

Mike,

I suspect that you could be positioned in such a way as to alleviate any strain that you experience. But in the absence of that, why not use aero bars?

If that is an easy way to solve your problems and make your life easier, it seems like a no-brainer.

Plantar Fasciitis

Hello all, and happy New Year!

A little over a year ago I was having some pain in my arches in the mornings which would dissipate as I warmed up. Sometimes it would be bad at some stage races after a tough stage the day before. It seemed my winter running regime further aggravated it. I finally had it looked at this past spring and it seemed to be Plantar Fasciitis. I also decided to go from elite cycling to racing triathlons for 2005. I really struggled with this regarding my running and riding, but have managed to compete in some triathlons this past season. I've iced, stretched, strengthened, etc. Some days it's ok, some it's not.

I can not really remember when it started, but I think it was when I switched to a new pedal system (Speedplay zeros) in the summer of 2004 after my bike got stolen and I got a new one. I've stopped running (just technique drills) for now. Even though my Ortho said I could run easy. I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.

Anyway, I have been looking at my cleat position and am thinking that initially is what started it. This is very frustrating as you could imagine and I would appreciate all your input.

Jake Brindle

Steve Hogg replies

Jake,

If you are correct in assuming that your switch to Speedplays prompted your plantar fasciitis problems then almost certainly you don't have enough foot over the pedal; i.e. the cleat is too far forward on the sole of the shoe. There is also a remote possibility that the cleats are way too far back on the shoe. Either can irritate the plantar fascia in susceptible people. Have a look at this post and this post. If you can position your cleats as suggested there, you will go a long way to solving your PF problems.

But, (there is always a but) there are couple of potential problems;

1. Speedplay cleats do not have as much rearward adjustment as a lot of other pedal systems and you may not be able to achieve the cleat position suggested in those posts. If this is the case, contact me directly as I have a solution.

2. Part of the problem may be your shoes. If you are using Pearl Izumi, Northwave, Adidas or Carnac (in certain sizes), then these brands have cleat positioning holes that are further forward, relative to foot in shoe, than most others. Again, if this is the case contact me.

Male health issues

Hello,

Do you know of any studies which discuss whether cycling causes male infertility? Have you heard of anything like that?

David

Steve Hogg replies

David,

I have read a few but cannot cite them because I don't pay them a lot of attention. I have had many clients at different times with cycling related erectile dysfunction etc, etc. There was always a solution and yes, some were far more sensitive to seat choice and body position on a bike than others. The basic problem is not cycling per se, but how the body's weight is supported on a bike. Essentially we need to sit with our weight firmly on our sit bones and not on our perineal area. Many riders don't support their weight this way. If they do, problems of this type are unlikely.

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