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Uneven muscle development – any advice?

silversurfer2012-08-02 17:23:46 +0000 #1
In all my years of cycling, I've been extremely lucky and have not suffered from any major injuries. In the last couple of months, I started to experience knee pain, first on the right then on the left due to compensation. I knew that I had made too many changes to soon and that was stupid, and thought that was the problem. I undid some of the changes, rode on lower gears and rested, and there was some improvement. Anyway, I saw an osteopath and it was largely good news – the problem is muscular rather and trashed knees, and I can continue to ride, at least for the time being, but with treatment, some changes and stretching exercises. It appears that my main problem is the fact that I'm extremely right sided (something I'm aware of) and muscle development on that side is greater than on my left side, enough to be a problem. There is also an uneveness in the development between the muscles on the outside (greater) and inside of my legs.

I need to learn how to work my muscles more evenly and I'm paying more attention to this when I ride now. Has anybody else on TE experienced this and do you have any techniques you can share? Hope this makes sense.


Muirenn2012-08-02 17:34:55 +0000 #2
Can you determine the reason for the right-sidedness? For example, my right leg is shorter (really, my right hip tends to be higher), plus, I have an ongoing right knee issue. I have shims (to level) and spacers (to increase length) in that cleat, just shims in the other (I think? Unless I got that backwards), to compensate for the leg length discrepancy. I definitely used my legs in an unequal way without the spacers.

I suppose the best thing would be to find a physical therapist qualified in bike fitting. And go from there. Possible?
indysteel2012-08-02 17:36:46 +0000 #3
I say this based solely on my experiences with my own muscle imbalances, but most of the work that I needed to do--at least initially--was off the bike. I'd start with a reputable physical therapist. After a detailed assessment, he/she will probably give you some detailed exercises designed to balance the strength of your left and right sides, as well as your inner and outer legs. Short of some other biomechical problem, like a leg length discrepency, I'd try to work on developing a smooth and even spin. The best way to do that, arguably, is with a good set of rollers.
silversurfer2012-08-02 18:11:46 +0000 #4
Muirenn, I'm just very right sided. It isn't related to the length of my legs. I'm just as bad with my hands and arms. Must be a brain thing. I've just had the initial assessment with the osteopath and will be starting a programme of treatment and exercises from next week. But because I want to keep riding - cycling is my main mode of transport, exercise and leisure - I'd like to make sure that I'm using my muscles in a more balanced way when I'm on the bike. I like the idea of rollers but I'm not sure I'd be able to use them without hurting myself in the process. But paying attention to my spin is an interesting thought. I'm paying more attention to which muscles I'm using at the moment. Thanks for that indysteel.
OakLeaf2012-08-02 18:08:27 +0000 #5
One-legged drills?
Muirenn2012-08-02 19:46:43 +0000 #6
Quote:

Originally Posted by silversurfer

Muirenn, I'm just very right sided. It isn't related to the length of my legs. I'm just as bad with my hands and arms. Must be a brain thing. I've just had the initial assessment with the osteopath and will be starting a programme of treatment and exercises from next week. But because I want to keep riding - cycling is my main mode of transport, exercise and leisure - I'd like to make sure that I'm using my muscles in a more balanced way when I'm on the bike. I like the idea of rollers but I'm not sure I'd be able to use them without hurting myself in the process. But paying attention to my spin is an interesting thought. I'm paying more attention to which muscles I'm using at the moment. Thanks for that indysteel.

I started using rollers last August. Scary at first, but not that hard. A few of the really experienced cyclists may be able to give you the mechanics of them better than I. (Like Indy, Oak, and the people who answered all my rollers questions : forums.teamestrogen....owthread.php?t=43753 before I first got them). I wanted rollers because we had so many wildfires last year smoke kept me inside. But I'm glad I got them. My balance/handling is so much better. They are fun, too!
SadieKate2012-08-02 18:22:26 +0000 #7
Quote:

Originally Posted by silversurfer

I need to learn how to work my muscles more evenly and I'm paying more attention to this when I ride now. Has anybody else on TE experienced this and do you have any techniques you can share? Hope this makes sense.

Good lord, you sound like my mirror image and exactly why I'm paying the big bucks to a new coach. This is the program she had me on while my focus was on reducing the pain running downhill. Now that my big event is over and I'm back to cycling it will change but, boy howdy, did I see the results immediately - in both the downhill, but in speed on the flats.

Weak right leg, weak everything involved in lateral stability (adductors, abductors, obliques, etc.), weak glutes, etc., etc. - but great quads.

She has me working with much lower weights that I have for a long time because her exercises are very, very effective if done right where you are constantly fighting for stability.

Not only did my running improve by leaps and bounds, but I noticed this week that I could ride up a steep, loose and rocky trail better than I ever have. Once I started to work with her, it was a shock to discover how strong some muscles were to compensate for the weak ones. You'll notice there is very little that has you doing the same thing at the same time with both arms or legs.

This is my regimen, but there are so many nuances for form you really need coaching by someone who is an absolutely stickler for form. Metatarsals perpendicular to the leg, no hip twisting, no planks with the butt out, only neutral spine, shoulders back, breath on the exertion, etc. Any downward motion must be at the same speed and control as the upward (don't let gravity control anything). Do extra sets on weak side. I've tried to add details. Video would be mo' bettah but you ain't going to get it.

Single leg sink squat - soft ball pinned between knee and cabinet door (hold on to sink so your hips are way behind you but chest touches counter edge), hinge at hip / 2x15 each side full range / 1/2 squat 1x10 - slow controlled 1/2 range in same time as full

Prone plank alt arm lifts - feet only wide as necessary, no hip twist, tuck chin, (reach right hand to front, then left front, then right to the side, then left to the side) 5x's through

Single leg bridge on big (swiss) ball - arm over head, keep ball still, go all the way down 10x3 each side extra set on rt

Side plank w/ big ball between legs roll foot back and forward and back 5x / each side

1 arm row on bench in bird dog postion, opposite leg out straight/ lift toe of lower leg, up stop smooth down 15 lbs 2x15 each

Prone plank on knees, leg lift with glutes w/weight behind knee 8lbs 2x10 each side

Back flys on BB, spine level, glutes squeeze and hips up, head neutral, arms out in T position, thumbs up, squeeze shoulder blades, don't lift shoulders or back / 3lbs 15 reps/ no weights 15 reps

Chest flys on back on big ball open wide, squeeze shoulder blades at bottom and hold, 5lbs 15x’s (keep it slow both directions)

Dead bug on bench, SLOW 10 each side 5lb each hand (lie on back, tighten abs, lower opposite hand and leg and reverse)

Shoulder stretch hands on top of ball, press shoulders down

Side slide plié 10x’s each side - push down hard with sliding foot

Standing bicep curl in split squat (feet forward/rear)

8lbs 15 each side - weight on back foot and feet aligned

Small ball squeeze, on back, ball between bent knees, hips lifted 2 inches, feet aligned, toes up 15 reps

Oblique crunch w/small ball, knees over belly, squeeze hip bone to rib alt 15 each side (don't let shoulders lift - this is not a crunch)

Tricep dips 12 - shoulders pulled back, and head up, hands directly under shoulders

Bird dog balance, lift toe to balance on only knee and one hand, thumb of extended arm aimed to ceiling, arm and leg locked into full extension, tighten glute - 10count x3 each side

Calf raise on stairs 2x10 slow full range - go down slowly, go down farther, now farther, hold and up all the way, slowly

Standing glute squeeze, outside edge of feet parallel 15

During our indoor cycling class, we do one-legged drills and she also has me unclipping with my right foot when riding because while my left leg is stronger it's also dumber. I can unclip on both sides no problem, but I have a terrible time starting with my left foot clipped in. So, it's not just strength imbalance but neuromuscular training imbalance.

I think the next things we'll try to add is single-leg free-standing squats hooking the heel forward over a bench and then step-downs (not step ups) as baby steps toward strengthening my right knee. I can do a wall sit forever and squats with bigs weights no problem, but that isn't really what cycling is about.

I hope the above helps in some slight way.

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