Forum home Road cycling forum Training, fitness and health

Hamstring pain/ankling technique

pontarlier_petepontarlier_pete Posts: 194
Morning all,

I have a question for you physio types out there... This winter I've had quite a lot of time off the bike as I've somehow had about 5 different illnesses since October (well, not "somehow", but due to a freezing cold office). It's not been one continuous period but two weeks off, two weeks on sort of thing. Anyway, when I went out on saturday for a couple hours (fairly gentle, level 2, some level 3), towards the end of the ride I noticed my hamstrings were both much more tired than usual.

However, I also noticed during the ride that my ankling technique has progressed a huge amount and I was now "pedalling the circle" continuously without thinking, instead of the sporadic when I think about it nature previously, and my cadence was averaging 95 for the ride instead of the previous mid-80s.

Could this hamstring pain/tiredness therefore just be from additional use from ankling, or could there be a more muscular problem from not having continuous training for a while? Did anyone else who trained themselves for ankling also notice much more tiredness/tightness in their hamstrings for a while?

Thanks all.

Posts

  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    Sounds like you were 'pulling backwards ' for your 'circular' pedal stroke - and you were unused to the effort thereof your painful hamstrings... maybe!
  • Sounds like you were 'pulling backwards ' for your 'circular' pedal stroke - and you were unused to the effort thereof your painful hamstrings... maybe!

    So is that normal when you start ankling properly, or could I be pulling backwards too much? My pedal stroke did seem more fluid than before so I thought I was getting it right!
  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    Not sure what is 'right' - what works best for the individual, causing least discomfort and most speed is probably abouot right. Same as cadence - can be worthwhile trying /training at different cadences (for variation etc) but in the end its what feels good that is right for you. Not everyone is happy ankling, ticking along at 120 RPM or with 15 cms between saddle height and bar height.
    Not sure there is much to be won by changing own inherent pedaling style and I'm of the impression that power wise most comes on the down stroke using quads. Hamstrings tend to be favoured more extreme positions (ie TT) I believe but Im basically just thinking aloud now!
  • OK, cheers for the comments. I'll try and keep the same for the moment then as the cadence (and power, surprisingly) was slightly up and it did feel better, so hopefully it's just the hamstrings adapting to doing more work.
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    The other aspect to this is that, if you're "cleaning your boot" at the bottom of the pedal stroke, your heel might have dropped a little. Dropping the heel at the bottom increases the length of the leg, and thus increases the stretch on the hamstring. Working the hamstring in a more stretched position can and does lead to soreness. This should disappear with increases in hamstring strength and flexibility.

    Also, are you aware of any strength imbalances in your legs, front-to-back? Have you ever worked on this in the gym? Or done one-legged drills? It could just be that you're very quad dominant and this has meant your natural cadence is a little lower, as you might lack the neuromuscular control to spin faster efficiently. If this is the case, and you're looking to raise your cadence, it might be better to work on strenthening the other muscles and developing control, rather than self-imposing a pedalling style, which may lead to injury.
  • huuregeil wrote:
    The other aspect to this is that, if you're "cleaning your boot" at the bottom of the pedal stroke, your heel might have dropped a little. Dropping the heel at the bottom increases the length of the leg, and thus increases the stretch on the hamstring. Working the hamstring in a more stretched position can and does lead to soreness. This should disappear with increases in hamstring strength and flexibility.

    Also, are you aware of any strength imbalances in your legs, front-to-back? Have you ever worked on this in the gym? Or done one-legged drills? It could just be that you're very quad dominant and this has meant your natural cadence is a little lower, as you might lack the neuromuscular control to spin faster efficiently. If this is the case, and you're looking to raise your cadence, it might be better to work on strenthening the other muscles and developing control, rather than self-imposing a pedalling style, which may lead to injury.

    That would make a lot of sense actually. I have done one-legged drills but didn't particularly notice my hamstrings being weak, but then I wasn't thinking about it as I don't expect them to be as strong as my quads. I've never done any specific hamstring strengthening work. I do remember my hip-flexors being destroyed for a few workouts though!

    So presumably some hamstring exercises, eg leg curls, to get some strenghth up?

    What would you recommend for improving neuromuscular control? More one-legged drills?
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    The two classic drills for improving cadence are indeed single leg drills, and also high-cadence, low-intensity drills. I'm sure there's info about both of these on the web, e.g.

    http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2 ... rills.html

    As regards weights, well... I'm a big fan of weights, if only because they're massively effective at isolating and correcting muscle imbalances, and increasing flexibility (assuming the right weights with proper coaching), and thus as an injury prevention strategy. You don't know where your weaknesses lie until you go and hunt them out, and there's nothing better than a squat or a deadlift to do this! And recent research shows that a good weight training program improves certain critical cycling performance parameters (particularly peak power), while not negative impacting others (e.g. VO2max):

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19960350

    Obviously, if you're going to hit the gym and haven't before, make sure you get some coaching. Also, I don't know how it fits into your training plan, because you can only really sustain doing weights in the base period. Whether it will make any difference to you and/or your pedalling is another question but, as I said, you don't know until you've tried and you certainly learn a lot about your body and your limitations in the gym.

    Leg curls are a waste of time, probably the worst exercise in the world and major potential for injury and non-transferable strength gains. Leg curl machines should be banned IMO! You want to focus on the two classic leg exercises, squats and deadlifts, and one leg variants of these. WIth coaching. The other really good hamstring and cycling specific exercise is the hyperextension (assuming your gym has the equipment) - easier to perform than a deadlift but works the posterior chain in the same way, and also really effective for training the erector spinae.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,361
    Silly and obvious question, but since you didn't mention it - do you stretch properly after cycling? Best to do a relatively gentle stretch on each leg and hold it for a full minute.
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    neeb wrote:
    Silly and obvious question, but since you didn't mention it - do you stretch properly after cycling? Best to do a relatively gentle stretch on each leg and hold it for a full minute.

    While increasng flexibility is a good thing, post-exercise stretching does not have an significant effect on muscle soreness. If you're sore, it's because your muscles have been worked hard in some way.

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/325/7362/468
  • Thanks all for the responses. Neeb, yes, stretch after every ride.

    I think the answer laid in huuregeil's posts - was still sore even yesterday suggesting it was slightly strained, so dropped my saddle a couple of mm last night not to exacerbate it, and also paid attention to my heels, and felt much better. I did notice I was dropping my heels at the 5-7pm stroke, so I'm pretty sure that's what must have caused it. I think I'd ironed that out by the end of the ride though as I felt much better afterwards.

    Thanks all. :)
  • what's "ankling"?
    "scalare come se al grembo degli dei" (apologies to any Italain speakers if the grammar/spelling is off)
Sign In or Register to comment.