Tag: joints

Riding Like a Pro: A Deep Dive into Cycling Biomechanics

In this exciting journey through the world of cycling biomechanics, we’ll unveil the science behind pedaling like a pro. We’ll also discuss the factors that can make or break your performance, shedding light on the adjustments you can make to ride smoother and faster. So, saddle up and get ready to take your cycling to the next level with the secrets of cycling biomechanics!

Discover the Biomechanics Behind Your Pedal Stroke:

Unlocking Cycling’s Secrets: The Science of Effortless Riding?

Picture this: you’re out on your bike, cruising along, and feeling the wind in your hair. But have you ever wondered if there’s a way to make your ride even smoother and more efficient? Well, there might be! Let’s dive into some fascinating research about how the design of your bike and the way you pedal can make a big difference in your cycling experience.

Did you know that a cyclist on a bicycle expends significantly fewer kilocalories per kilometer-person than individuals in motorized vehicles? Not only that, but even in the animal kingdom, a human on a bicycle ranks first in efficiency when it comes to energy consumption per distance covered. With the aid of a bicycle, this efficiency skyrockets, making cycling 2.5 times easier than walking while achieving a 3- to 4-fold increase in traveling velocity!

Researchers found a groundbreaking link between your breathing patterns (respiratory dynamics) and how you grip your handlebars and saddle. In simple terms, how you sit on your bike and its angles can affect how efficiently your body uses oxygen. That means a more effortless ride for you.

The current study investigates how changes in frame geometry during submaximal cycling impact physiological parameters (oxygen uptake, ventilation, heart rate, and carbon dioxide output) and mechanical parameters (forces on pedals, saddle, and handlebar). It specifically looks at the correlation between metabolic and mechanical factors using various seat-tube angles. In addition, a long-term adaptation test explores how varying seat-tube angles affect oxygen uptake and lactate accumulation.

In the first part of this study (STA test), the researchers worked with ten semi-professional male road cyclists. The second part, known as the LTA test, featured a professional male road cyclist who was 18 years old, stood at 171 cm, and weighed 62 kg.

In the STA test, a group of ten experienced cyclists tried out six different seat-tube angles (STA) ranging from 70° to 75° to see how it affected their cycling performance. They were searching for that magic angle that would make cycling a breeze for everyone. Surprisingly, they found that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

Changing seat tube angles (STA)

What’s really intriguing is what they discovered about how cyclists held the handlebars. As the seat-tube angle increased, cyclists gripped the handlebars harder. However, this didn’t apply to the saddle.

The team expected changes in the seat-tube angle to affect how much force was applied to the pedals, but that turned out to be less of a game-changer than they thought. It might be because the angles they tested were already pretty close to ideal for most riders.

Now, here’s where it gets fascinating. They found a fascinating link between how cyclists balanced their weight on the saddle and handlebars and the variability in their oxygen consumption. For most cyclists, when they achieved the right balance between saddle and handlebar forces, their breathing patterns stabilized, making their rides more comfortable.

This suggests that our bodies need time to adapt to new cycling positions, and there might be different ways our muscles work during exercise. This discovery led to a follow-up test, the Long-Term Adaptation (LTA) test, where they explored how maintaining a balanced position affected oxygen consumption over time.

In the Long-Term Adaptation (LTA) test, they discovered that adjusting the bike’s frame geometry, specifically the seat-tube angle (STA), didn’t directly impact oxygen consumption. However, a particular position stabilized breathing dynamics. Cyclists naturally altered their body positions and pedal angles with changes in STA, affecting the force they exerted on the pedals. After extensive testing, a 75° STA was found to be optimal, and a pro cyclist trained with this angle for eight weeks. In addition, it found that the athletes with the same IBM (Index of body mass) tend to adopt the same cycling position:

Trend of typical mean angles for subjects with the same IBM at 70° STA

The results showed increased efficiency and reduced lactate levels, indicating a remarkable adaptation in energy consumption, making cycling smoother and for longer period of time.

Lactate accumulation for different seat tube angles . Blue- before the 8 weeks of training, red- after 8 weeks of training.

Unlocking Peak Performance: The Best Position To Win The Race

Ever noticed how professional cyclists have a unique posture on their bikes? That’s no accident. How you position your body on the bike can impact your muscle coordination and the way you pedal. This position is so crucial that it can be the key to better cycling performance!

This review article offering comprehensive comparison between different body positions, in order to find the perfect position which allow us effortless cycling!

Sitting Or Lying down?

AspectUpright PositionSupine position
Maximal Oxygen ConsumptionHigherLower
Maximal work outputHigherLower (85%)
Submaximal Oxygen ConsumptionSimilar/higherSimilar/ smaller
Cycling Efficiency similar/ smaller Higher*
* May offer a slight advantage in terms of cycling efficiency at lower workloads, but this advantage diminishes as the workload increase

How to hold the handlebars?

Faria et al. (1978)

Top Bar*
Drop Bar**
Maximal Oxygen UptakeLowerHigher
Work OutputLowerHigher
Maximal heart ratesimilarsimilar
Energy Expenditure LowerHigher
Muscle Mass Activation Less (mainly legs)Greater use of the arm, shoulder girdle, and
lower back muscles
Pulmonary Ventilation Potential Lower Higher- The suspended chest is believed to ease chest expansion, thereby enhancing pulmonary ventilation potential and possibly decreasing the energy requirement for respiration
*sitting semi-upright on the saddle with the hands resting on the uppermost portion of the handlebars.

**described as sitting in the saddle while assuming a deep forward lean, with the hands resting on the drop portion of the turned-down handlebars.

Upright vs Low sitting Position

Diaz et al (1978)

Upright Low sitting position*
Maximal Oxygen ConsumptionHigherLower
maximal work outputHigherLower
Oxygen consumption
at submaximal workloads
Efficiency SimilarSimilar
*cycling position where the torso is upright and the legs horizontally extended.

Upright vs Low sitting Position

Which bike is better?

Metz et aI (1986,1990)

Upright PositionSemi recumbent Bike
cycling performanceHigherLower – cycling time to exhaustion in a semi recumbent position was consistently 4 to 5 minutes less than that on a standard racing bicycle.
power outputHigherLower

Sitting down or Standing up?

Montgomery et al. (1978)

Upright positionStand Up position
Maximal Oxygen consumptionSimilar Similar
Force Patterns on Pedals LowerHigher

To conclude, although there is no a secret position that can guarantee a perfect performance , If you’re serious about enhancing your it, consider a long-term adaptation approach. Dedicate time to training with a specific bike frame geometry, ideally for at least 8 weeks. This can lead to improved stability in oxygen consumption and reduced lactate accumulation, resulting in a more efficient and enjoyable ride!

How Lower Body Mechanics Unlock Performance in the Pitching Delivery

Why can some pitchers throw 105 mph and some only 85? Baseball players are continuously trying to throw the ball faster and hit the ball further. The lower body muscles, especially the gluteus maximus/medius, adductors and and other pelvic movers, are essentially what power the throw and what can directly increase pitch velocity. Learning how to efficiently use the muscles in the lower body while pitching will allow players to optimize their performance, train correctly off the field, and prevent injuries.

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The Science Behind Load Management: How Isometrically Overloading Tired Knees Can Promote Growth and Healing

Many athletes who experience pain right below the kneecap after a spike in volume of explosive physical activities (ie. running/jumping) are diagnosed with patellar tendonitis, commonly referred to as runner’s or jumper’s knee. The suffix “itis” is Greek for inflammation and a common remedy is rest to reduce the inflammation.  In some cases, an initial rest period combined with physical therapy to strengthen surrounding muscles such as the hip flexors and gluteus medius is enough to alleviate the knee pain for good, in other cases the rest is of no benefit or even worsens the patellar tendon’s condition and starts a chronic cycle of resting and then returning to activity in more pain than before. In these cases a more accurate diagnosis of patellar tendinopathy is correct. Patellar tendinopathy implies chronically recurring pain on the anterior of the knee that is difficult to treat. In such cases, an MRI often reveals small lesions throughout the patellar tendon indicating that the tendon is structurally damaged and not just inflamed. A better understanding of the patellar tendon’s biological composition, and biomechanical function may help to resolve future cases of patellar tendinopathy.

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You’re En Pointe! Biomechanics and Ankle Injury Risk in Ballet Dancers

Image by cottonbro (Pexels)

Dancing in pointe shoes raises the risk of injury for female ballerinas. Complex balletic movements require elevated muscular efforts and can put excessive stress loads on the ankle bones. Not many biomechanical studies focus on ballet, even as findings could contribute to decreased injury risk for dancers. A number of factors, such as ground reaction forces, ankle sway, and shoe flexibility can affect a dancer’s injury risk. But which factors contribute most? 

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Why Do Your Fingers Make A “Pop” Noise When You Crack Your Knuckles?

When cracking your knuckles, one tends to hear a “pop” noise that is loud, sharp, and irritating to most. This noise can be addicting in the sense that it makes others want to crack their knuckles. The main questions that I focused my research on were “Does cracking your knuckles or joints cause potential health issues for your future?” and “ Why does cracking a joint such as your knuckles make a “pop” noise?” 

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Hip Hip Hooray: Joint Functionality Can Be Restored After Hip Labral Tear

Do you experience deep, sharp pain in your groin? Or a feeling of “catching” or “popping” in your hip joint as you go about your daily activities? Is your range of motion you once had now severely limited? If so, you could be experiencing symptoms of a hip acetabular labrum tear, an ever-increasing problem in society that fortunately, has effective treatments.

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Staying airborne: How bird wings are built for aerodynamic and efficient flight

Flight is a concept that has, until relatively recently in history, eluded humanity. However, birds have been successfully flying for approximately 130 million years, proving themselves to be a physical marvel of the natural world. And while our means of flight have historically been crude in design and performance, nature provides an elegant, efficient solution to get creatures off of the ground. Rüppell’s griffon vultures have been recorded flying as high as 37,000 ft, while some species of shorebirds have been recorded flying as far as from Alaska to New Zealand over eight days without stopping. But how exactly do birds seem to effortlessly overcome gravity so effectively? And perhaps more importantly, how might we apply these answers to improve manmade aircraft?

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Packing a punch: Does strength indicate boxing performance?

Every sport has a different “ideal” body type, which is largely dictated by the muscle groups it focuses on training. Swimmers prioritize developing the muscles in their shoulders and backs, which allows them to propel themselves through the water with their arms. On the other hand, runners prioritize the hamstrings and quads in their legs, which allows them to generate greater force when pushing off of the ground. So, what is the ideal body type for boxing? Strength is clearly important when punching an opponent, but is it even the most important factor in boxing performance? Should either upper- or lower-body strength be prioritized over the other?

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