A two part introduction:

1) I have always taken pride in my easy, circular, high-cadence, powerful cycling pedal stroke. It always just came naturally to me.

2) When I was a college basketball player, I shot around 55% from the free throw line. When I got to the line, I started to think about my shot form. In practice, I could mess around, not think, and shoot 90%. However, come game time, I started to wonder about my wrist flick, my elbow placement, etc. All this thinking hurt me, and I couldn't make a shot. I lost my natural flow when I thought.

With those two things understood, I want to tell you about my recent problems with my pedal stroke. Ever since I hurt my Achilles, I have started to think about my once natural pedaling form. Just as thinking hurt my shot technique in basketball, thinking has hurt my pedaling technique. I am thinking about my knee placement, I am thinking about my ankling, thinking about my hamstring contribution, etc.

For this whole training cycle, I have had this problem of thinking.

Also, recently, I have noticed my left knee splaying to the side at the top of my pedal stroke. This is the same knee splay that I think caused my knee injury back in the summer of 2006. To make matters worse, the same knee has started to hurt.

But, I've cured both the thinking and the knee!

Similar to the allied defense of Europe during the second world war, my attack on thought and pain involve a two-front attack.

On the one front, I realized that the splayed knee was being caused by both tight psoas muscles and poor glute activation. In simpler terms, I am a tight-ass. The psoas are a muscle group deep in your butt. They function with the glutes to extend the hip, and they function with the hip adductors to pull the thigh out. A tight psoas pulls the thigh out at the top of the pedal stroke - hence, a splayed knee. I cured this by using assorted psoas stretches and releases techniques, such as ART, stretching, and self-massage.

The poor glute-activation is a phenomenon I've seen referred to as 'glute-amnesia'. Basically, the glutes are there, they're strong, but they're not firing. When the glutes don't fire properly, the quads carrying the burden of pushing down on the pedal. With my knee splaying out and my glutes not firing, my inner thigh muscles (Sartorius and Gracilis) were getting really sore, tight, and overworked right at the knee. Over-load the quads, and you're in for knee pain. I cured this problem by utilizing Glute activation techniques prior to my training sessions.

On the western front: the problem of over-thinking the pedal stroke. I am a genius, but sometimes my thinking power causes more harm than good. Too much thought about the pedal stroke, and it fell apart. How'd I cure this one? I moved my cleat location on my shoes so that my feet are closer to the crank. This is all it took. Having my feet too far away from the crank had caused my feet to ankle improperly and my foot to roll excessively. I had tried a bunch of solutions, mostly technique oriented. But, simply moving the cleats solved it. Now that my foot is correctly interacting with the pedal, I no longer excessively analyze my stroke.

With my rediscovery of my natural pedal stroke, and the curing of my tight, lazy ass, I've got my cycling Mojo back!


Libby Maxim said... @ May 5, 2008 at 1:38 PM

nothing compares to MOJO

and glad the fanny thing worked out too


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