hip mobility in cycling
With spending a lot of time around cyclist recently, you see all kinds of styles and movement patterns on the bike. Like most coaches and physios, you naturally watch how people move. Hip Mobility is an important part of bit fit and how able someone is able to adapt to a position. I’ve been obsessed by gait as a basis for movement for many years. More recently, I’ve been looking more at cyclists with a similar curiosity. That’s why I completed my bike fitting qualifications.
In some of the course material there was talk about the cleat position and I mentioned a month or so ago about their desire to get the knee going up and down in a straight line over the foot. I’m not yet convinced this is always going to be the best strategy.
However, one thing it’s hard to ignore is when you are behind a cyclist and you see the knees markedly moving laterally at the top of the pedal stroke. It doesn’t make me think cleat position, it makes me think hip ROM.
In a purely non scientific, observational way I’ve seen this pattern of movement is more common in men and gets increasingly common with increasing age and weight. When I see this pattern it immediately reminds me of when you are looking at hips in non-weight bearing in the clinic.
If you passively move this type of hip into flexion you will feel that the closer you get to 90 degrees the more the hip will want to move into external rotation and abduction. You see it all the time with people who complain of low back or hip pain when they put their socks on or tie their shoes.
For me, altering the bike in this type of case may be required, but should not be your only solution. This lack of mobility may be successfully accommodated in the short term, but it’s likely the lack of mobility will progress until the new position is causing the same problem.
Altering the position might be a great short term or long term solution, as long as you are not ignoring the underlying cause. If lack of mobility is the underlying cause, this need be addressed.
Though it may seem logical that in cycling the place to look is in the sagittal plane, those who have been reading my blogs a long time will know, that may be a mistake too! Most commonly, a severe lack of internal rotation is often the key, with lack of adduction next. If you only go after flexion you are likely to run into a problem, where the patient complains of hip impingement type symptoms.
As with all things you are working with an individual and so need to work with what will best help them. There could be structural issues, muscular, capsular, neural etc… so you have to figure out how you are going to help and how much change you can expect to make. However, if you assess for the underlying cause you will will be able to work to address that and get the best result you can for the individual.
I will post something up about assessing and treating hips shortly.