Proper bike and body fit make a big difference |

Proper bike and body fit make a big difference

A sore butt is almost guaranteed for individuals who haven’t been on their bikes all winter, but more persistent injuries could prevail if the rider’s bike fit or body mechanics are off-kilter as cycling season gets underway.

Dr. Ivo Waerlop of Summit Chiropractic and Rehabilitation in Silverthorne is launching his annual bike fit clinic at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Wilderness Sports in Frisco. The clinic is free and open to any mountain biker or road cyclist.

Individuals who spend a lot of time on their bikes might wonder why the pain they noticed in their knees, back, neck or feet on that first ride hasn’t gone away yet. Or, if they’re competitive, they might wonder why they’re not getting the speed and efficiency they feel they should be as they’re pedaling.

Waerlop points out that all of these problems could reside in an improper bike fit, and cyclists that educate themselves on aspects of a proper fit will improve their cycling performance, endurance and enjoyment of the sport.

“Most of the people I’m seeing now are the real die-hards,” Waerlop said. “These are people who are competitive cyclists doing well over 100 miles a week on their road bikes. The come in because they’re having some sort of pain or problem – knee pain, back pain, foot pain … for these people, it’s usually not a bike-fit issue.”

In his clinic, Waerlop will also cover body mechanics as they relate to the bike. Cyclists often go to Summit Chiropractic for analysis on the way they ride. They feel their injuries are due to being in a static position for hours on end, but the problem could really lie in a foot pronation habit or bad posture.

“It’s usually their feet,” Waerlop said. “Or, they have a difference in the lengths of their legs, and that’s going to change their power stroke from one end of their body to the other. When you measure that symmetry over a long ride, it’s at mile 60, 70 or 80 that they’re saying, “I’m feeling a pulling in my hip muscles.’ The real competitive people have been fit properly; their problems are orthopedic. It’s sometimes an overtraining issue – some muscles are more developed, which makes sense when you think of how, on a bike, you’re bent forward at the waist all the time. We call them repetitive motion injuries.”

Frisco cyclist Tim Faia can relate. Faia rides professionally for Valdoro Mountain Lodge and puts in about 300 miles per week. He had chronic knee pain every time he rode, which brought him in to see Waerlop last year. To his surprise, the problem was solved with a prescription for orthotics.

“My foot and lower leg angulation were off,” he said. “The femur was scraping on the back side of the patella. The orthotics solved this problem. There’s a really high arch in the orthotics that realigned all the bones. Last year, I won a few races, so maybe it’s made me faster. At the very least, it’s made me able to train rather than be (laid up) for a few weeks.”

Body mechanics aside, cyclists and mountain bikers might have reoccurring aches and pains from something as simple as having their saddle too high or too low, the wrong frame size or handle bar positioning. If the seat is too high, for instance, cyclists might experience difficulty in pedaling because of a decrease in power output from their quadriceps and gluteal muscles, stress on their knees from being fully extended or lower back pain caused by pelvic rocking. On the other hand, if the seat is too low, Waerlop said it also causes a loss of power output because of the mechanical disadvantage of the major pedaling muscles (butt and thighs). A low seat can cause knee pain from compressive forces and stress to the lower back from bending too much at the waist to reach the handlebars.

Waerlop uses video analysis for his bike-fit clients, by which he can watch the way they ride and isolate problem areas and illustrate them to the rider.

“We can slow the video down in slow motion and watch their motion as they go through a pedal cycle,” Waerlop said. “We can see their efficiencies and inefficiencies. We can assess people’s riding styles. Some people are very upright. With mountain bike people, you have people that sit all the time, people that stand all the time and people that mix it up. The best part about the video is, we can educate people on what they’re doing specifically – “This is you, this is what you’re doing.’ Another thing we notice with the videos is the repetitive motion problems. For instance, a person with a leg length discrepancy is going to bob their body on their short side. Their body will tilt. If you think about the mechanical inefficiency these things cause, you waste a lot of energy. If someone’s a competitive cyclist, we can shave seconds off their time by making a few changes.”

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