|The Missing Link:|
What Every Cyclist Should Know
|by Erin Dunham, DPT|
Several years ago, I wanted to place in the top 3 in the Mount Evans Hill Climb, so I spent every spare minute on my bike. Cross training did not cross my mind (pardon the pun). That same year, I took my then boyfriend on a trip home to Montana. I wanted to show him Glacier National Park and do some hiking. True to form, we hiked the steepest trail we could find, passing as many other hikers as possible. We reached a beautiful vantage point in record time, took some pictures and started hiking back. Within a quarter mile (maybe less) I had developed “sewing machine legs.” I looked like someone with a neurological disorder. I stumbled the rest of the way down, mostly peg-legged, and collapsed on the nearest bench.
What in the world was wrong with me? How could my tree trunk-like legs give out so quickly as I started downhill? The answer – I had (like most cyclists) a complete lack of eccentric control. My leg muscles could not lengthen and contract at the same time (think lowering yourself down a step – your thigh muscle stretches but contracts).
When cycling, the shoes attach to the pedals and pedals to the crank – essentially making the bike provide eccentric control so your legs don’t have to. Poor eccentric control is common with cyclists, but is it a problem?
It’s only a problem if you want to have better results and less pain on the bike.
|Go Ahead, Slouch – Does It Really Matter?|
by Jane Milliff, MMSc, PT
My father, who is a PT, was forever telling me to stop slouching. He even had me walk around with my left arm behind my back grasping my right elbow, to “correct” my posture. But how important is posture really? Bad posture may not cause pain according to current research. Studies show no clear causative relationship between posture and pain. For example, stressful work postures do not correlate with increased pain in workers. And there is more support in the literature to say that bad posture is not a source of pain.
Why does your PT, then, keep reminding you to correct your posture? Why did my sweet father sound like a broken record when it came to posture? Because posture matters.
One thing we can see, and it is DRAMATIC, is how much posture affects function.
Even if a rounded back doesn’t make you hurt today, it does make it harder to reach the top shelf of your cupboard, or turn your head far enough to change lanes safely. And it makes you look 20 years older. So go ahead, slouch.