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Your Personalised Physiotherapy Centre

Inside Physio


03 July 2010

this issue Cycling - Bike set up Pro fe ssi o n a l De ve l o p me n t

Physio Professionals Biomechanical Analysis

Physio Professionals prides

Current Bike Set Up—Are you in the ideal

itself in its continuing staff


education initiatives.

Cycling— Current bike set up Upcoming Events 

Tour De France July 2010

World Cycling Championships — Melbourne

Brisbane’s Bridge to Bridge Fun Run August

Sta ff Michelle Peauril Senior Physiotherapist Postgraduate Level 3 Sports Physiotherapist Andrew Crew Remedial/Sports Massage Biomechanical Cycling /

Globally cycling is experiencing rapid growth. In 2009 over 1.5 million bicycles were sold in Australia alone, up from 750,000 in 2001. It also marked the tenth consecutive year in which Australians bought more bicycles than cars. Cycling now ranks as the 4th most participated activity in age groups over 15 years of age in Australia, and over 40% of participants are 40 years of age or older. For every bicycle sold to a child, 4 are sold to adults. Current data from the Australian Beaureu of statistics show that the increase in use of bicycles is driven by health and fitness and not for transport purposes. Last year the Australian government spent 40 million in bikeways and road upgrade for cycling use, this trend will continue to grow. The growth in cycling can be due to many factors and can include, Cycling is a low impact sport that can be enjoyed by most people as it provides many people who otherwise would struggle to perform regular exercise with the chance to stay healthy and active. Australia is one of the leading and successful nations at Olympic and world championship level both on the track and road, the success of elite cyclist such as Cadel Evans, Robbie Mcwen, Stuart O’Grady etc at major events such as the Tour De France, Giro D’talia, Paris Roubaix and the increase in media exposure of the sport and the associated health benefits attributed with cycling this trend of growth will only increase in the years to come. Triathlon is also experiencing unprecedented participation levels, the Sunshine Coast holds two annual events in the Noosa and Mooloolaba triathlons that rank as the biggest in the southern hemisphere. The average spend on a bicycle now has grown to over $2500.

Bike fit A poorly fitting bike is one of the main causes of overuse injuries in cycling. Correct bike set-up is crucial both to maximise performance and to avoid injuries. When your setup encourages excessive bending (flexion) through the lower (lumbar) and middle (thoracic) spinal regions you place prolonged stress on the disc, ligaments, and muscles. Incorrect handlebar height, excessive knee flexion and extension due to incorrect seat height and incorrect saddle position are the major contributors to poor position on the bike. The bike fit must include a musculoskeletal screening to assess spinal, hip and lower limb mobility and muscular strength/weaknesses, level of fitness, primary cycling goals, and importance of aerodynamics to the rider, terrain and bike type used before any adjustments are made. A tailored exercise program to address muscular weakness and flexibility issues found during the screening should be prescribed. A correctly fitted bike and individual riding position does not only improve comfort on the bike and reduce the risk of injury but can also benefit performance by up to 20% by improved aerodynamics, increase power output and increase in efficiency between bike and athlete.

Running Analysis





Cy cl i n g Fa ct s

40% of participants are 40 years of age or older

To get your riding position right, there are two key strategies to consider: i) Consulting a professional with specific training and experience in bike setup (and if an injury has developed choosing a professional who has knowledge in both bike setup and injury management e.g., physiotherapist). ii) A bike fit that includes an initial setup based on your individual anthropometric measurements and primary cycling principles and adjustments at a later date that incorporate your individual needs/ feedback.

A bike setup must be a dynamic bike fit and incorporate video analysis to assess subtle alterations that are distinct to the individual rider and that are not clearly picked up by the human eye. Cycling technique Poor cycling technique can not only result in reduced power output but can lead to injury. The power output throughout the pedal cycle is not equal. At different points, different muscles are better positioned to deliver optimal power than others. On the down stroke, the gluteals and quadriceps work hard, along the bottom of the stroke, the hamstrings and calf muscles take over and on the upstroke the legs are basically passive. With this in mind, practise the following to encourage good technique (possibly with a mirror for feedback):   

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‘Peddling in circles’ to promote a smooth transition throughout the stroke. Pull across the bottom stroke to assist in removing ‘thuds’ and increasing power generation. Ensure relaxation on the upstroke (i.e., don’t pull up on the pedal).

For those people with injuries or athletes wanting to improve their technique, video analysis with a trained professional can assist in correcting bad habits. At Physio Professionals we use video software analysis alongside a computerised electronic indoor cycling training system to determine the best position for each individual cyclist. The software analysis identifies changes in the rider’s biomechanical angles and whilst comparing changes in heart rate response, power output (watts), speed and cadence against changes made in bike setup and riding position. Using this alongside the clinical experience of the physiotherapist we use this information to dial in the most appropriate position for the individual cyclist.

Physical factors Due to the nature of cycling, cyclist will remain in the same position for many hours producing hundreds of watts whilst averaging a cadence of between 80 to 110 rpm. Whilst riding, some muscles will primarily stabilise the riders position while others primary work to generate power through the pedal stroke. Core stability throughout the trunk provides essential support to the spine and pelvis and creates a stable anchor for the legs to generate power whilst reducing the risk of overuse injuries to the pelvis, spine and lower limbs. Poor core stability can cause rocking of the hips, whilst increasing the load on the lower limbs to achieve the same power output; this is obviously inefficient and can lead to overuse injuries. However, learning specific exercises to train these muscles can improve trunk control whilst improving efficiency on the bike and reduce the risks of back pain and other overuse injuries whilst improving comfort on the bike. Physio Professionals physiotherapist can assess your spinal flexibility and stability and provide guidance on how to address these factors. Equipment choices Road cycling and triathlon are not only approached differently from a training perspective they are governed by different rules in what bicycle equipment can be used. This includes bike frame sizes and geometry, wheel sizes, handle bar setup, and bike setup in general. However rider position is also strict in road cycling in terms of time trialling position and road racing position compared to triathlon in regards to forward position of the seat in relation to the bottom bracket. If the bike fit is intended for a cyclist for competition purposes these rule must be understood and adhered to and also taken into account when determining a cyclists optimum position both in terms of comfort, aerodynamics and power output. In a time trialling position the rider will bring themselves forward on the seat to increase the effective seat angle which in turn increases quadriceps function and helps increase power output. In time trials and triathlon the effective seat angle ridden by professionals and age group athletes alike can be around 76-80 degrees, compared to 73-75 degrees when riding a normal road cycling setup where aerodynamics are not as important.

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