Top Cycling Injuries and How To Avoid Them – Part II
Last time, we covered the first of the two things you need for building #BullettProofBikeKnees, Indirect Knee Protection. Now we will cover the second part of this secret sauce, Direct Knee Protection.
Direct Knee Protection
If it is directly attached to the knee, it DIRECTLY contributes to knee stability, strength, and control…It is DIRECT KNEE PROTECTION.
The Quads: Those massive beauties we all secretly crave, are directly responsible for generation of power to the pedals in coordination with the glutes. They also handle anterior (front of knee) protection by way of the patellar tendon and the surrounding connective tissue and other fancy words for knee joint stuff. Train your quads and patellar tendon tolerance to tension and strength to a level that can bear all intensities of volumes or load capable on the bike…and you have the most important component to developing direct knee protection (and get those incredible quads every cyclist’s vanity aspires to…I know I do).
The Hamstrings: Those ungrateful, chronically tight, angry little bastards…they have a seriously important role in the cycling pedal stroke-Power Regulation…AWWWW YEEEEAH! What does this mean? Well, I will tell you. Think of your glutes and quads as the muscles that generate POWER for the pedal stroke…and see how that power must be transmitted through the bending and extending of the knee to the ankle, foot and subsequently the pedals. The hamstring muscles, being on the posterior or “backside” of the knee, therefore counteract the power of the quads and are responsible for regulating that power in a controlled manner as it is being applied to the pedals. Simply put, your hamstrings need to have flexibility from being controlled during eccentric conditions aka “lengthening under load”. Consistently mobilizing your hamstrings to increase flexibility with appropriate stretching protocols is the recipe for hamstrings that feel amazing and make you a stronger, smoother rider:
The Lower Leg: This applicator and sometimes calf crampy little bugger, is how we efficiently apply and stabilize the force directly to the pedals. On the anterior side of the leg are the shin muscles that contribute to protection of the anterior knee (due to its attachment directly into the front of the knee) and regulation of force to the pedals. On the posterior side are the calf muscles, and there are two: Gastrocnemius and the deeper Soleus muscles. Calves are responsible for the “spring-like” mechanism of the ankle that allows us humans to have confidence walking the earth. When we are on a bike, this a bit more of a challenge. It is super important to have a proper foot-to-shoe interface with semi-custom or fully custom inserts for cycling shoes. Think: instead of the foot landing onto the earth, we bring the earth up to the foot to meet all the same structural contours of our step. In doing so, it allows for your body to feel more stable in applying force to the pedals and allows for your knee to be a happy participant in the process.
The Adductors: These inner thigh and groin muscles can be a real bother sometimes and are responsible for helping to directly control the lateral, or side-to-side, movement of the knee. That smooth and controlled knee tracking pattern we like to see in a beautiful pedal stroke comes in direct part from here. Therefore, it is important to train strength and control in lateral movements of the knee so you can apply all that power forward.
Stay tuned for Bike Fit-Bike Body, the third and final part to Top Cycling Injuries and How To Avoid Them.
Dr. Tim Woo earned his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Western University of Health Sciences and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Movement and Sports Science from University of La Verne. He is an avid racer, a member of the cycling community in Southern California, and treats pro, amateur, and recreational cycling athletes. Please visit www.socalbikept.com to see how he can help get you riding at your highest level.
Bike Legal, APC is a full-service personal injury firm. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact us for a free case evaluation at (877) BIKE LEGAL or visit www.bikelegalfirm.com.