The Rambling Thoughts of a Soft Tissue Therapist – Cyclist issues!!!!

calf-massagePart 2  Shortened Hip Flexors

In the last episode I left you on the bombshell that the forward tilted pelvis can have other implications other than just a feeling of tight hamstrings. So I thought I’d put down a few words of explanation.

There’s quite a bit of science in this next bit so bear with it. The flexed hip position is very common in today’s society and we spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, sitting watching TV, riding a bike, you get the gist. The muscles that maintain you in this position are your hip flexors which, to name the culprits, are the Psoas Major (and Minor in some people), the Iliacus and the Rectus Femoris. Now when muscles get used to being in a shortened position they tend not to want to get any longer, this is called “adaptive shortening”. So when you get out of your chair or off your bike, they  get active and resist themselves extending. The activation of this muscle group then inhibits the activation of the opposing (antagonistic) group, in this case the hip extensor. The main muscle in this group is the Gluteus Maximus. As you can imagine the Glute Max is a big powerful muscle and is very important in walking, running and cycling as well as maintaining correct posture. If it’s not working properly other smaller muscles then step in to do the Glute’s job and if this carries on for a period of time these muscles then become dominant leading to something called “synergistic dominance”. This then opens the synergists up to an increased chance of injury and an overall reduced performance for you. As an example, the Tensor Fasciae Latae is one of these synergistic muscles. This muscle attaches to the Iliotibial Band and if it’s not working correctly can lead to pain on the outside of the knee, enough to stop you cycling! That would bad enough on it’s own, however, there could be another issue with these shortened hip flexors.

The powerful Psoas (or fillet mignonette, if your at the butchers) muscle attaches to the lower (lumbar)spine pulling it down towards the upper leg. It only takes a little imagination to see how this constant tugging of the spine can lead to an excessive concave curving of the back which may result in lower back pain. In order to balance the body the upper back then has to curve in a convex manner…and so the potential issues continue.

So what can we do about all this? The answer is to ensure we maintain our body in as balanced a position as possible. If your suffering from any of the above issues a manual therapist can help “release” the shortened muscles allowing the antagonists a chance to get stronger and rebalance the body. Support this with a personalised mobilization and flexibility program designed for your body and you are winning!

My Cyclist’s Massage preparation is coming to a conclusion. It will be a whole-body massage focusing on the main issues experienced by cyclists due to imperfect bike fit and/or overtraining, or training on niggles that are not going away. It will work well as a maintenance massage or as a heads up of any future issues you’re not aware of yet. The body can operate quite comfortably at about 70% efficiency, however, if you’re about to do a Sportive, a Challenge or Time Trial or London 100, for example, you probably want to be operating at a higher level. Sports Massage can literally feel potential problems. Prevention being better than a cure.

The massage will take in Cyclist Palsy, neck and shoulder pain, lower back pain (see above blog), Glute firing, Hamstrings, Quads, Patellofemoral pain, Calves, Achilles’ tendinopathy and Plantar Fasciitis. If you think you may benefit from this please feel free to book a massage with me at the Harrison Clinic.

I look forward to seeing you.