Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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The Holistic Approach to Cycling Performance, Part I - Posture Analysis

When I started coaching twenty years ago, I was privileged to begin at a time when what we knew about performance, and what we didn't know about performance regarding cycling, left a wide gap of knowledge that needed to be filled. Fortunately, in 1996 and 1997, I returned to Dallas, where I hired a Personal Trainer, so that I could become a better mountain biker. Coach Kurt Chacon helped me understand that just because I was skinny and had a high metabolism, it did not mean I was going to be a stronger mountain biker. Texas Mountain Biking required a LOT of upper body muscular endurance and core strengthening, and over six months, Coach Kurt helped me gain about 5 lbs of muscle, which aided me towards getting several Top 10 finishes in my category in TMBRA. We forged a friendship that has now led to Coach Kurt becoming one of the Coaching Professionals at Cycling Center Dallas! This post is going to expand upon the synopsis above - in order to improve ALL of your cycling demands, you have to focus on ALL of the Physiological Requirements, and it ALL begins by assessing your body's composition and physical structure. Recently, Coach Kurt performed one of the first assessments in our newly opened Richardson Studio. The gentleman undergoing the examination was in his 60's, had about 8 years of consistent cycling experience, and had reached a plateau that he wanted to surpass. Coach Kurt followed this protocol to determine what this rider's core strengths and weaknesses were on a biomechanical level. The assessment began with the rider standing upright against a solid-colored wall, beside a plumb line. Upon observation, it became immediately noticeable that this cyclist had serious postural deviations from normal populations. Posture ALWAYS begins at the feet. The plumb line is spotted roughly between the heels. Image The plumb line should ideally run through the umbilicus, bisect the sternum, chin, nose and forehead. From the waist down, you can see an immediate offset between left and right. The left foot is closer to the median, and upon discussion, Coach Kurt learned that this rider placed all his weight on his left leg. Looking further up, he determined muscular differences, and upon further discussion, Coach Kurt learned that he had broken his right hip and had it pinned back together. Favoring one leg over another had led to pain and chronic arthritis in the left knee. ImageMoving up from the pelvis, the photograph reveals a torso that is shifted to the left. The right hip is markedly higher, and the right shoulder is markedly lower. Diversion from the sternum is also much more obvious. ImageEyes, teeth and ears, should ideally be perpendicular to the plumb line. Obviously, his torso is shifted to the left, and his head is tilted back to the right to compensate for the left torso shift. In just this sagittal plane view, this rider definitely has needs that extend beyond "Watts". How would a bike shop fit a bicyclist with these deviations?? Good Question! Now, let's approach this client from the coronal plain....Image Once again, we begin at the feet. The plumb line starts at the lateral malleolus, which is the "bump" on the outside of your ankle. Ideally, the plumb line should run through the hip joint, the shoulder joint, and right behind the earlobe. As you look at this photo, you can tell immediately that this client has shifted his entire center of gravity forward. Image Moving further up the frontal plane, the plumb line would ideally pass through the hip joint, and the chromium process. This individual instead, despite his perception that he is standing upright, is instead flattened in the lumbar region, is kyphotic in the thoracic region, and is body-weight forward. Unfortunately, as cyclists age, if they do not pay attention to these critical muscle groups along the back and spine, gravity has a tendency to 'win', due to positioning. Being over the handlebars is the same gravity strain as sitting over a keyboard, or driving in traffic. Musculo-skeletal diligence is required to maintain proper posture for effective propulsion, and this cyclist is already facing several form-induced performance handicaps. ImageLooking at the lateral, upper view of the frontal plane, the plumb line would again, ideally be located just behind the ears. This individual is about 8cm or more out of the plane, and look how the head juts forward almost beyond the torso. Image The final part of the posture analysis comes once again from the feet. Notice that in this individual, the right leg's vastus medialis (the thick muscle that you see when you pedal from 3 to 5 o'clock on a pedal stroke), almost touches the plumb line, while the left musculature is at least 2cm lower. The right foot is again forward, and there is very little development of the rider's soleus or gatrocnemius. This implies that the rider has been literally depending on too few muscle groups to perform the work necessary to propel a bike forward. ImageNow take a look at this image. Technically, this would be Scoliosis, but when a professional looks at the muscle imbalance and postural deviations in the trunk, one begins to think this is a Scoliosis of function rather than structure. In other words, this IS a musculo-skeletal imbalance that CAN be improved!!!! One of the most famous physio-therapists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Pavel Kolar, says, "You may not be able to alter morphology, but you CAN live a pain-free life." This individual has unfortunately developed a number of muscular compensations to avoid previous episodes of pain which may have resulted from his injury and rehab that did not take an athlete's perspective. Image In this final photo of the Posture Analysis, the viewer can really see how the right shoulder of this cyclist is below the left. The spinous processes of the lower thoracic vertebrae are visible. This is often referred to as "Naked Spine", and it reveals where the Kyphosis is the most severe. You can see Scoliosis that is concave on the right. The head is also shifted left, but tilted right. From the epicenter of the trunk, even with a scoliotic spine, some of it should be on the plumb line. The fold of the scoop of the Supra-Iliac, reveals that the right side is also higher than the left. Not shown, but revealed during the assessment, was marked deltas in stride when Coach Kurt had the individual walk. Future videos of this individual will be taken to show gait imbalances which directly translates in to pedal stroke imbalances. Finally, it was revealed that this individual suffers fatigue in one leg over the other. Can the reader guess which one? Based on this assessment and overview, it shouldn't be too difficult to determine. With all this information in hand, Coach Kurt now has the ability to compare this to range of motion in all his joints. Video analysis of this individual on a stationary trainer and performing basic functional movement assesments further revealed that, in coach-speak, this athlete was "pedaling with one leg". The imbalanced power output, combined with the significant postural deviations, leave the coaches at Cycling Center Dallas with the impression that this individual is metaphorically 'riding down the road sideways'. One might think that this assessment leaves the athlete in a dire situation or with limited prognosis for improved Stamina, Strength, and Speed. BUT, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE BODY TO ADAPT TO NEW STIMULI AND RETURN TOWARD AN OPTIMAL STATE! This individual has agreed to multiple training sessions with Coach Kurt which will focus exclusively on joint mobilization, flexibility and target strength training. Evidence is revealing that static, traditional resistance training methods may not be the best way to enhance posture, balance, or performance. THIS is the reason that I hired Coach Kurt when I was a Bike Gypsy, and it is the same reason that his knowledge is so valuable today. Cycling Center Dallas takes a Holistic Approach to Cycling Performance, and our professionals have over 60 years of combined experience to help you optimize your performance through an optimal body. It literally begins in the mind, and extends through to the tissue, the bone, the muscle, and the DESIRE. Let us help you, help yourself. Call Coach Kurt at either 214-533-2634, or email him at to set up a free consultation. Technology, Application, Attention, Success. We focus on YOU.