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The ramblings of someone who just thinks about health and fitness far too much!

 

 

16.05.2017
Neil Eriksen
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My Bike Fit at The Bike Shed with Bill. Why Body Geometry Fit? The Lab "The Body Geometry system is the only one designed to get you into an optimum active riding position because it considers the unique connection between your body and bike. Getting it right will help you climb faster, descend more confidently and ride with less fatigue".  The advertising YouTube video of the fit can be seen here. First a bit of my background to put forward the case for who would benefit from having a professional bike fit of this level. My history of bikes is predominantly in light freeride and xc mtb with plenty of descending downhill on hardcore tracks in Tavistock, Haldon cafe side, Cann, Canonteign etc here in Devon. I used to do this and all the while suffering, properly suffering, with a back issue. This wasn't due to cycling geometry, might have been due to a cycling crash I had once but not the actual fit of the bikes I was riding. The poor fitting of the bikes I was riding certainly wouldn't have made it any better as I know that a number of improvements could have been made. I mostly enjoyed the freedom from pain, the adrenaline and speed descending and taking the pressure off my back going up by pushing, high gear or just taking the pain anyway. So I skirted the issue of a properly fitting bike all the while trying to strengthen my muscles with typical physio and Personal Training approaches. The good old mtb days on a badly fitted bike Moving on a few years I pretty much fixed my own back by learning and using the Biomechanics Coach method and general movement approaches with my own personal training and massage knowledge. It's mostly relaxing/strengthening specific muscles, mobilizing joints and ensuring the main nerves are happy. One main take home from this - A happy muscle is a stronger muscle than an unhappy one but it takes a special sort of view to see which ones are 'unhappy' and what's required to 'release' them from their dysfunctional state. Elite Sports Performance Expo London Then just over a year ago as my back was now feeling great after 20 years of pain, I took up road riding proper to challenge my endurance more and keep the crash injuries down but still spend time on a bike. I got the roadie bug on completing the 100mi Nello in a respectable 6:33 total although it's #notarace, it was a great personal challenge. After spending several months just riding regularly I went and started with Deliveroo on the bike to get paid to ride and to pay for all of my cycling related stuff and more. Referral code 59235 for £50 just to start, if you're interested in learning more hit me up. It fits nicely around family and my Personal Training work so it has worked out very well for me. I went in to learning more about bike fitting through the book BIKE FIT by Phil Burt and various YouTube videos. I have quite a background in mechanical and aerospace engineering and Biomechanics/Sports Injuries with human body assessments etc so it seems like I could do a pretty good job for myself, which I think I did, to a point. The embarrassing bit was turning up to the Bike Fit with my saddle slid all the way back. I didn't intentionally put it there, I found it there when I said to Bill, "I've been shifting my saddle as far forward as it'll go but I still find myself shifting forwards" only to then see it as far back as it'd go! Slide back over time?! Anyhow... On initial assessment with Bill I expressed my major concerns were with a hip issue, foot/undercarriage numbness on long hard rides. My ultimate questions were about the saddle height to bar drop for aero/comfort and the type of saddle and which was best for me. Cleat width position for best knee tracking and efficient power was also something I had thoughts about. I would really like to ensure that cycling would not be 'poking' my current issues to enable full recovery while continuing to ride for work and leisure. It was apparent that Bill has learnt his skills from some very professional people over in California and he carries this through with exceptional customer service skills and a great degree of knowledge on the task at hand. I was able to talk with him on a professional level. His insightfulness and understanding of the holistic approach and of philosophy within this area was refreshing while maintaining his role within the task at hand. He exhibited a good level of openness to the contribution and worth of other professionals within the physical fields with the end goal of overall performance enhancement of the rider. So it's not just about up selling saddles, bars, cleats, shoes and insoles but to provide the correct service to the client within the remit of the bike fit. You get your bike digitally recreated so they know the exact positions you already have and then the test bike made to that same position. Great to see some of the same tools and tech that's used in aerospace engineering being used to put my bike into the right positions for my body. I enjoyed having someone else perform a series of insightful assessments on me for a change and I was able to glean more insightful information from these about my own body and obviously Bill was able to use this information on a number of levels that I would not have done myself as well as towards the ultimate goal of performance and comfort on the bike for serious riding. Some testing tools We changed the position of my cleats, it's so hard to position them symmetrically without this tool. The right one was 4mm more medial than the left which could be why I have started developing pressure discomfort in the forefoot little toe side Interossei muscles. This could be magnified because that foot in particular has the propensity to supinate and a position more inverted therefore overloading the outside foot side. We discussed shoe inserts but I'm personally not ready for that as there are other considerations to be dealt with first, like the new cleat position, which feels like the sole is now more even across the forefoot and coming more off the ball as it's supposed to. Quite different positions despite my own best efforts The ride analysis was the next stage in the fit and indeed the next level that just isn't possible without access to this equipment.  We talked much about the data Bill was seeing and how I was riding so he could actually tell me when I had finished relaxing into the ride so the data was without errors due to tension held in muscles about the different joints. It definitely got me thinking more on personally using other performance testing methods in different fit positions but we'll leave that for next time. All wired up This bike was set exactly as my own was set, handlebars, levers, cleats, saddle and geometry. Then Bill measured position and movement then started to make calculated adjustments while on the bike. We changed the seat for one that actually fits my butt, that looks much fatter here... It helps if your sit bones are actually in the right place Then more minor tweaks towards what became the perfect fit. Bill then did the grand job of changing my bike to the same positions as this bikes finished article. The feel of it now is that I sit in the bike not on it, something widely noted. Because of the new seat and that my sit bones are now on the seat and there's an anatomical cut out in it there's a lot less pressure on that area which will hopefully change how I feel on my next 50+ Hard ride. I've only done a quick 5mi round the block and 30mi Deliveroo last night so far. Even when I did have the seat forwards in this position (before it 'slid' back or whatever) this bike has never felt so good with so much power endurance. I'm very happy about the cleat rotation and width position on the right foot. Also reassured that the amount of bar drop (saddle to hoods) and reach in the drops is as aero as I can comfortably maintain without undue effect for the hips and back as seen in the flexibility testing, apparently it's a lot! (Good news for my future racing career, lol). That's testament to the amount of work I've put into my own intrinsic biomechanics guided by Biomechanics Coaching. In summary - I've seen an awful lot of awful fit positions in my limited time, sometimes you don't even need knowledge to see that someone riding down the road looks... funny! Some people would have been able to see from my leg extension that my saddle was on the cusp of being way too high. It would've been impossible to tell that I was shifting way too far forwards on the saddle to get my knee over the pedal for power and efficiency and that this was putting too much pressure on the soft tissues connecting with the seat. Even after looking at my cleats with my engineers eye and feeling the pressure on the sole of my foot I could not get them in the same place without the correct tool for the job. I know I have significant flexibility but because of this it's hard to tell what is too much, I just keep going! Some people are unaware of their own body on the inside (apart from pain and even that's a debate due to current findings!) so they too would not have a lot to go on. I have now learned another level of Bike Fit, as I like to say 'Peeled another layer off the onion', there are may recreational riders with a deeper understanding than I and we see that even they can benefit from these tools facilitated by a good 'mechanic' in line with other specific professionals from other fields. I will be following up with Bill in a month and will be repeating the full fit with new bikes and other disciplines in the future. Cost of the Bike Fit - £200 Cost of the saddle - £80 Value to me - £Priceless Click the link for more details: http://www.bikesheduk.com/bike-fit Damn forgot chain in the big ring for photos!
Is your fitness slacking too? I've got a confession to make. So I went for a New Year’s Day surf and was hugely disappointed in my own ability to surf and manage in the tricky conditions. You see I've been a full time surfer for around 15 years and have prided myself for being able to go out in pretty much anything the sea around the UK can whip up. Not now though, I struggled and just about survived after a late and slightly boozy night (NYE) with a very early trip to the beach and I left the water after only 30 minutes instead of the usual 2-3 or more hours. You see we've had baby Nina, now 5 months old, and I'm using this as an excuse for the state of my fitness. It is just an excuse of course, I've had plenty more opportunities to workout than I've actually used and now I've paid the price with what I would say is the worst level of fitness since I was in my mid-teens. A pretty bad example of a PT for certain. I have used quite a lot of my free time to treat my own physical issues with the Biomechanics Coaching process and massage therapy methods. I do feel so much better now in myself and in my workouts than I have after suffering a chronic low back pain issue for 20 years and having none of the other professionals or methods have any similar level of effect. So now I've made a good start to correcting my asymmetries, dysfunctions and weakness’ I can build my fitness again to an excellent level with less of the recurring injuries and limitations. Despite this I see no reason to allow my fitness to drop to such a degree. There are many ways to skirt around the issues I had with correctly targeted exercises as I would do with my own PT clients. So my confession, I let myself slip, didn’t take my own medicine, was a hypocrite at worst and a fraud at best. I’ve got slower, weaker, fatter and everything in between. Over the festive season I hit the booze, the sugar and refined junk and did very little exercise. I’m kind of ok with allowing myself to do that in a no holds barred way for a while but now I’m over it. So I am now like many others at this time of year, for the first time in my adult life I’m going to have to make an effort. Before it was just what I did, how I was, my lifestyle revolved around sport, exercise and eating very well so it was no effort just to maintain a high level of fitness. I hope I have learnt from this time and experience, I certainly don’t enjoy having such a limiting level of fitness and allowing my health to suffer like this. It takes a situation such as this for the level of importance for a change to be realized and take hold. Out if the two things we know to be most valuable in making such lifestyle changes; importance for, and confidence to be able to, I know that I have both now in high levels so it’s going to happen for me. As a PT I’m excited to find out where other people are at with these as the key motivation to a successful outcome for the struggling client often lays within these: How important is it that you make a change? How confident are you that you can make that change?  Neil ERIKSEN BSc Health & Fitness – Personal Trainer, Biomechanics Coach, Massage Therapist
16.07.2015
Neil Eriksen
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In fitness we know certain things like if you run more you get better at it, the same for all movements. If you lift weights you will traditionally get stronger or bigger and maybe even leaner, if you have the right diet to support those changes. But what about stretching? Well it's in the name isn't it, when you stretch something it gets longer. So the mental shortcut that we all go through is that when we stretch our muscles they get longer, it happens with other things so it must be true. Stretching has been the mainstay of fitness and therapy for decades, to prevent 'short' and 'tight' muscles we have stretched them. But does it work to lengthen your muscles? It's understandable that people without specific knowledge would adhere to the general guidelines provided by people who obviously know about these things. If they say that after a workout we should stretch all of the major muscles used in the workout for around 15 seconds for a maintenance stretch then you would of course do it. My issue with this is that it's just not very personal and a prescription such as total body stretching can take around 10-15 minutes to complete, after every workout that could be around an hour a week or a couple of days a year. With time being a constant issue for many, time saving may help more people get the much needed exercise. Also, many have spent significant time stretching without significant improvements in the length of the muscle and subsequent range at the associated joint i.e. tight hamstrings seen in hip flexion, so stretching doesn't always stretch, fact, why not? The body is complex, there are any number of reasons why one would have a tight muscle, if the reason is not to do with an unaccustomed sensory experience of the stretch feeling then what is it? The answer lies in the relationship of that muscle with the rest of the body, indeed the first place to look might be around the local region but this is commonly not the case. If stretching the hamstring as an example over 8 weeks doesn't work then I'd stop doing it and look elsewhere, in my experience, your best bet is a Biomechanics Coach but it all depends on the experience and knowledge of the specific professional.    So with all of the knowledge that I have accrued over the years my advice would follow thus: 1. Follow a programme of exercise that maintains structural balance and you will reduce the need to correct posture with stretching or other interventions. 2. Prevent static postures for extended periods of time to reduce the need to correct faulty movement and postural issues gained from them. 3. Use massage techniques such as foam rolling and self massage to help maintain natural viscoelastic properties of tissues and work out old issues. 4. Avoid injuries from progressing too quickly in exercise and vary activities to reduce overuse injuries, get injuries seen to as soon as they present.   5. Maintain a healthy diet and level of hydration. 6. Reduce stressful situations and utilize methods such as deep breathing and meditation to combat it if you become stressed. 7. Get the rest your body requires. 8. If a muscle or movement feels like it needs stretching then by all means do so. It might not need stretching, it might need the opposite or something else entirely. Seek further advice from an adequately qualified professional on the correct approach to treat an issue if there is no change. Be prepared that this may take time to assess and develop a strategy for you. To review, stretching probably shouldn't be called stretching but it is, off the top of my head I can't think of a better single name. Personally I would attempt to decide what the required outcome is and call the movement something to do with that. Muscular Sensory Reprogramming MSR springs to mind for traditional use of stretching. So generally in the absence of better advice I'd carry on with your stretching as you wish, if your body is trying to tell you something via pain, discomfort or obvious movement issue then you should pay attention and have a professional investigate.  Here's a quote from an incredibly enlightening article I have finally read. "Traditionally, rehabilitation literature has attributed increases in muscle extensibility observed after stretching to a mechanical increase in muscle length. A growing body of research refutes these mechanical theories, suggesting instead that in subjects who are asymptomatic, increases in muscle extensibility observed immediately after a single stretching session and after short-term (3- to 8-week) stretching regimens are predominantly due to modification in subjects' sensation. This research brings to light the importance of using sensory endpoints when assessing muscle extensibility, the value of multidimensional muscle length assessment, and the need for basic research in this field. Multidimensional evaluation of muscle length can lead to a more comprehensive and effective approach to addressing disorders of muscle length and has application in developing fitness guidelines". Increasing Muscle Extensibility: A Matter of Increasing Length or Modifying Sensation? Cynthia Holzman Weppler and  S. Peter Magnusson. Physical Therapy. 2010

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