Here’s one for all the runners and especially triathletes out there. Hamstring injuries. We’ve all been hamstrung by hamstrings at one time or another and it’s got to be one of the more annoying injuries to get!
This is a triathletes nightmare as long bout on the bike shorten and tighten the hamstring and then bursting into a run will tear it up!
Once again the guys at Core Cambridge are answering questions on strength and conditioning. This one is particularly pertinent to me-training with injuries. When I was back playing rugby I trained and played through all manner of injuries just to try and keep my place. Don’t get me wrong-I loved every minute I got to play but it has caused some damage for me now!
Here’s Ed and Cris with the lowdown and a case study of an elite sprinter with a hamstring injury:
Do you have a Sports Medicine or Strength & Conditioning question? Tweet it to @corecambridge and they’ll answer it!
You get them, I get them, we all get them. Injuries are the bane of everyone’s life. From little niggles to breaks, tears and rips. Last week I talked about swimming and this week cycling is getting the works!
Cycling is designed to be painless-you’re not jolting your body like you are in running and you’re using your biggest strongest muscles unlike swimming. If this is true then why does it hurt so bloody much?
I get pains in five different parts of my body when cycling: knees, bottom, back, arms and hands. I’m going to try and run through why these happen and how you should cycle to avoid them. I think now would be a good time to point out that you’re thighs are going to hurt pretty much whatever you do when cycling as that’s the muscle that’s propelling you forward! Another classic cycling issue is shortening of your hamstrings. Lance Armstrong can barely touch his knees! It’s important to warm up and stretch off afterwards although even when I set off on big trips with good intentions (stretching and ten press ups/sit ups morning and night) I never end up doing any of them! But here are the five aches and pains you can fix:
All your knees do when cycling is transfer the power from your thighs to the pedals via your shins-this shouldn’t be painful The key to fixing this is the set up of the bike. It’s definitely worth getting your bike professionally set up for you if you plan on doing any real distance on the bike. If you can’t afford to get a full fitting then adjusting the height, angle and position of the seat post should alleviate most aches. You should have the pedal so you can put your heel on it while sitting on the saddle-this buys you a couple of centimetres when you put your toe in the pedal which will stop you over stretching. Generically having pain at the front of the knee means the seat post is too low and pain at the back of the knee means your seat is too high. You might also need to adjust the seat forward or back for comfort-bare in mind a half a centimetre adjustment can change things drastically!
I cycled from London down to Aswan in Egypt with my knees in agony ignorant that I could fix it, thinking that it was just the after effects of tearing my cruciate and medial ligaments. In Aswan I met a South African sports doctor called George who was driving a truck overland to Cape Town. He adjusted my seat by about an inch and after that I didn’t have single a twinge! He also fixed my rim tape on the wheels and we had a bet that I’d buy him a beer for every 100kms I cycled with out a puncture I’d buy him a beer (I’d had 27 in 7500kms until then) and for every puncture I got he’d buy me five beers. When I got to Cape Town I owed him 120beers and he owed me five. Gutted. Pain-free, but gutted.
While my knee was hurting (at the front and under the knee cap from having the seat too low) I found it really helped if I spent a few minutes each break massaging my knee downwards and to the outsides-this really helped with the swelling and seemed to stop the pain temporarily.
I don’t really know the answer to this-I used a Brooks saddle on both my last trips and for 12000miles and 22000miles respectively it was agony! I’ve heard of people who have worn theirs in well and think they’re great-my problem is that I get bored and fidget. This means that when I get an ache on one side I’ll move to the other and then get another ache there and this will repeat for months! I suppose the answer is not to fidget, break the saddle in well and you’ll be fine! (Two pairs of padded cycling shorts helps too!)
This is a classic problem for long distance cyclists. Your back is the part of your body that balances out the leg drive. I had intermittent problems with my back and they only really flared up when I hadn’t been disciplined with keeping my form. Ideally your hips, upper body and arms shouldn’t move at all when you’re cycling. You should engage your core muscles and use them to hold everything in place-this allows each push of the pedal to go through with more force. If you ride hunched up or wiggle from side to side as you pedal then you’re wasting energy and pulling your back apart. Don’t do it!
If you’re cycling all day everyday with your arms locked out then they’re going to ache. You can lessen this by having handle bars that allow you to place your hands in different positions. For my last trip I had bull bars which allowed me to have my hands vertical and horizontal on the bar. Shifting between these two positions really helped me. I always wanted to try out a triathlon handle bar but never plucked up the courage to buy one!
You’re leaning the weight of your upper body on your hands for an extended period of time-they’re going to hurt. Cycling gloves are padded to protect the nerve which runs down the little finger side of the base of your palm. Even with gloves I lost feeling in my little and ring fingers on the first trip-they came back afterwards but it wasn’t much fun. On the second trip I changed the grip on my handlebars from a round one to one with a flat part that fit my hands much better and didn’t have any troubles at all.
In short: posture, posture, posture! And get your bike fitted and you’ll be fine!
The video below is from a great DVD that can help you set up your bike at home:
You get them, I get them, we all get them. Injuries are the bane of everyone’s life. From little niggles to breaks, tears and rips. Over the next three Training Tuesday posts I’m going to try talk through about injury proofing/prevention for swimming, cycling and running without getting too technical!
There are hundreds of ways to get injured in day to day life and the injuries you carry into the water are going to affect how you feel when swimming. Most people are taught the basics of how to swim as a kid and after that training becomes doing ever faster repititions up and down a pool. I work on my technique everyday. It’s essential. The easier I can get through the water the more and more likely it becomes that I’ll be able to swim from North America to France. An injury could ruin this kind of trip. Below are the three classic causes of swimming injuries:
The Three ‘O’s of Swimming Injuries: Over Stretching, Over Rotation and Over Use!
As a kid you will have been told that’s important to stretch out as far as you can infront of you to maximise your stroke length and speed. Whilst having a full long front crawl stroke is an asset-over stretching is a killer. If you feel your shoulder moving out of neutral in it’s socket (shoulder blade moving up and out) then you’re stretching to far. Keep your shoulder blade locked solid and use it to transfer all the power from your stroke through into your body to push you forward.
Usual overstretching injuries are down the length of you shoulder blades (rotator cuff muscles) and are usually worse on the side you breathe more dominantly on.
It sounds daft but when swimming front crawl your arm shouldn’t rotate at all. From the top of the stroke your arm should pull straight down and then as you roll onto your side you should track your hand up your side lifting your arm straight back up rather than rolling it round and out. On dry land it’s like raising and lowering your hand as if answering a question in class.
Rotating your arms rather than just raising and lowering them can cause you to cross your arms across centre at the top of your stroke essentially slowing yourself down each stroke. If you imagine your arms are entering the water, on a clockface with straight ahead being 12 they should go it at 10 and 2. This will feel odd but will pull your arms out so they probably are both going in at 12.
This is where you get the pinching shoulder pains and general shoulder and deltoid aches and pains.
Easy to blame but impossible to fix? Yeah, pretty much. Over use with bad technique will destroy your shoulder, you’ll go to the doctor and they’ll want to get their knife out and cut you up. Swimming is not and should not be painful. Fatigue kills good technique so it’s your brain you need to train to fix this. Know what your body is doing, feel your arms crossing across the centre at the top of your stroke and correct it-think of yourself swimming from a third persons perspective-you know what’s happening, see your problems and work on them. It’s important to be able to feel your swimming technique and to be focussed enough to know something’s going wrong. I usually do five minutes of so of storke drills each hour in the water-usually catch up, catch and zipper drills as that’s my main areas I get lax in!
I use an adapted Total Immersion stroke and work on gliding and getting as much forward movement out of each stroke-the video below is practially swimmers porn. If you can do a 9stroke 25metres then you’ve got it made!