Biomechanics and injury prevention
Optimal biomechanical functioning is a key component of physical fitness for all sports, particularly in running and cycling where strength and power are important elements of sustainable endurance. Discrepancies in balance and asymmetries in movement can lead to poor performance and result in muscle strain or joint issues.
Similarly, injury prevention allows a cyclist or runner to train for longer, and achieve greater performances. Realignment through soft-tissue mobilisation can also have a desirable and direct impact on performance through improved economy and efficiency. Muscle contractions are much more effective if they are working the limbs in the correct range of motion. Improved blood flow and rate of contraction can be remarkably increased through dynamic stretching and lengthening of the muscle fibers. Pain is usually a late warning sign that something is wrong.
Realignment, then strengthen…
I typically recommend all my clients to attend a professional assessment of posture and movement before embarking on a full training programme. This works well, both through highlighting potential anatomical issues such as spinal alignment, pelvic tilt and foot pronation as well as avoiding disruption to a programme during key phases or worse: immediately prior to an event or start of the racing season.
A painful injury may result from unnatural stress on mis-aligned joints, and any combination of the following: poor pedalling technique or running gait, an incorrect bike fit, training overload or muscle imbalance can change the tracking of ligaments and tendons over joints causing inflammation and pain. For instance patellofemoral stress syndrome (PFSS) can be a result of quadricep muscle imbalance, pelvic muscle weakness, introduction of running or too rapid ramp rate of training load causing considerable discomfort for cyclists.
Treatment should focus on integrity of muscle tissue and length as well as movement range of joints for re-alignment to occur fully, before further intensity and strengthening can take place. Rather than simple sports massage, this can take the form of self-treatment at home after an initial assessment. Compliance to specific stretches and complimentary exercises usually dictates the effectiveness of corrective therapy.
Action…. or reaction?
What could be a preventable issue, may mean weeks of down-time from a training programme or even a frustrating lack of everyday mobility during rehabilitation, sometimes even strapped up with Kinesio taping. Assessment of movement and soft-tissue mobilisation is a corrective (remedial) therapy focusing on anatomical re-alignment for ideal posture and range of motion in joints. Adequate flexibility can help prevent occurrence of injuries which are common to those training or participating in endurance events.
A recreational athlete does not necessarily need to be experiencing pain for immediate benefit and potential performance gains long term, not just dodging unforeseen injury. Des at Phases Sports Therapy can provide a comprehensive appraisal of your posture and movement. He also conducts functional bike fitting to correct previously poor positions leading to injury, muscle tightness and strain. You contact him through the Phases Sports Therapy website.