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Addressing imbalances on the bike - how to ride more symmetrically for better performance

A simple way to the root cause of your imbalances and how best to influence a more positive riding position


2 of our athletes enjoying a club ride near Westonbirt Arbouretum

For me, the weekend represents the time of the week where I can close out the white noise of the world and cruise round my local loop of the Berkeley Deer Park until I feel like I’ve covered enough km’s to reward myself with a cold beer healthy protein shake.


As I’ve been slowly building my own fitness, I started to become aware of a tightness in my lower back, which I just put down to having had some time off of the bike. I’d occasionally stop and have a quick stretch and a bit of yoga and foam rolling once home often put my worries to bed. The problem though, was this was becoming a regular part of the cycling routine; warm up, cover a lap or so, stop and stretch, carefully ride home.


So, after my fourth consecutive week of this new sub-optimal athletic ritual, I decided to do some investigation. Following the same protocol of simple movement tests that we carry out in the clinic, I set up my phone to record and took myself through each test systematically.


Lop-sided!


To my amazement I noticed that I had a huge difference in the range of motion between my two ankles, the soleus muscle in my left leg was clearly much tighter than the right! Not only that, but as a result of the limited movement capabilities, I was lacking around 2cm of muscle mass circumference in both my upper and lower leg when compared to the right. This was the route of my imbalance and the reason it was presenting through lower back pain when I was on the bike.


Luckily, having the tools and expertise to hand (it is my job after all!), I knocked up a simple set of strength-based exercises and mobility work to equalise the imbalances that were eked out during the tests. After 6 weeks of regular sessions and another home testing session, I can happily report that the imbalances have now become very minimal (still some weeks to go before it’s perfect) and I can now comfortably cover twice the distance I was before, earning me a second cold beer healthy protein shake after my ride!


A simple solution


Functional screening appointments are available at our Bristol clinic throughout the week and weekends. Our clientele includes those who are new to exercise right through to professional athletes. We also work right across the spectrum of endurance sport; runners, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, mountain bikers… the list goes on. Screening is certainly something to consider if you feel any imbalances while training and/or racing, or suffer from recurring injuries.




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