Ride better with these health and nutritional tips

Which two areas of the body will a cyclist most frequently injure?

By Matt Powell

If you guessed low back and knees then full marks! Low back pain is more frequent but tends to recover quickly. Knee pains last longer, so if it was a competition I suppose knees take it. The majority of cyclists with knee pain will have a version of patellofemoral pain. The leading causes for irritating this incredibly efficient joint are improper bike fit, early season overuse, and hip/pelvis muscle imbalance.

Any combination of the above will alter the position of the patella in the groove at the bottom of the femur (thighbone), resulting in extra friction. Note to all riders, do not ignore. At first this friction just stirs local symptoms and is easy to manage. Left to carry on, that friction will soften and continue wearing down the cartilage behind the patella, enough to ruin your season. So be pro active now:

  • Have your bike fit checked, especially every few seasons or with a new bike.
  • Spend your first few rides in the small chainring and leave the hills alone.
  • Have your muscle balance assessed by a good physio (preferably one who cycles) and ask for some exercises to improve your riding performance. Even the best riders have things to work on.

As for the rest of us, take the opportunity to get into some good habits now in the (very early) season so that you can last the whole season pain free. Keep the rubber side down and I’ll see you on the road.

Matt Powell, Sports Physiotherapist, West 4th Physiotherapy Clinic
Matt Powell is an experienced sports physiotherapist, cyclist and bike fitter. He is the owner and Clinical Director of West 4th Physiotherapy, a leading Vancouver physiotherapy clinic and proud longtime sponsor of GSC Club. Look for Matt at club rides and introduce yourself! 

@w4pt  |  
west4thphysio.com  |  Email

What's the best food to eat, post workout?

By Melanie Ackerley

It’s amazing how many times I’ve been asked the question “What’s the best food to eat after a workout?” To answer the question best, will actually depend on the length and intensity of your exercises. 

Workouts of up to 60 minutes with moderate intensity, mean you don’t have to obsess about getting in enough macronutrients, such as protein and carbohydrates. A typical meal will surely provide enough fuel for your muscles for the rest of the day and for your next workout.

However, a workout lasting longer than 60 minutes will start to burn through your stored glycogen (sugar) found in your blood, muscles and liver, which is important for muscular contractions and power output. This is why it’s critical that you focus on both timing and quantity of your protein and carbohydrate intake. If you were to inadequately replenish these glycogen stores, or not allow the body enough rest and recovery you will eventually “bonk” during your training, become injured or be more acceptable to illnesses.  

Through nutritional research and human trials, studies found that a simple meal containing 20-30 grams of high quality protein, such as protein powder, beef, or a combination of hemp, chia and pumpkin seeds, plus the addition of easily digested carbs (such as 2 servings of basmati rice or sweet potato) eaten within 60 minutes of working out, allows for proper glycogen replenishment and muscle repair.

In addition to carb and protein intake, I usually suggest my cyclist athletes consume 5-10 grams of an amino acid called L-Glutamine in water immediately after the workout, which is easily depleted during an intense cardio session. L-Glutamine is involved in muscle repair and speeds up recovery after a strenuous workout; this will also allow you to train harder and longer.

Melanie Ackerley, Certified Personal Trainer, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Better Bodies Health Solutions
Driven by facilitating the achievement of others, Melanie develops and delivers various nutrition guide programs, and understands the role good nutrition plays for optimal performance. Melanie also works with the Vancouver General Hospital's Mental Health Unit as the organizing body for their health and wellness derivative. 

@BettRbodies  |  better-bodies.ca  |  Email

The importance of measuring power

By Joanie Caron and Jamie Riggs

Many avid cyclists know by now, there is no doubt measuring power provides a more accurate view of a training stimulus. Compared to measuring heart rate alone, which gives feedback only on how your body perceives the training stimulus, power measure the stimulus actually applied. Moreso now, reliable power meters have become increasingly accessible to the everyday rider. In order to have an overall idea of your strengths and weaknesses as a cyclist, it is recommended every so often to take three different methods of power testing, which can be done at a lab, or on your own trainer at home.

  1. Maximal aerobic power measurement (MAP) or VO2max: A traditional aerobic step test until exhaustion, or a 5 min. max power test. This sort of testing measures your aerobic ceiling, which is critically important for every style and type of cycling. Exercise: Increase your effort by 30 watts every 3 minutes, until you can’t pedal any more. The last completed stage is your MAP.
  2. Submaximal threshold: Sometimes called your lactate threshold, critical power, or ventilatory threshold, your threshold may be determined using lactate measurements during a step test, or as a stand-alone time trial test. Exercise: Ride a 3 minute time trial as hard as possible. Your average power over the final 2.5 minutes of the test is your critical power.
  3. Anaerobic capacity or sprint: The least common form of testing, but assessing your peak power and the ability to sustain is most often measured using a Wingate Test. Especially useful for criterium and track racers, this test is nevertheless useful to any cyclist hoping to improve. Exercise: On your trainer, ride 30 seconds absolutely as hard as possible. Note your maximum power, as well as how much your power drops off by the last few seconds.

Having a better idea of these numbers and your specific power profile will give you a more accurate view of your strengths and weaknesses, and put you on the path to showing up on the start line ready and confident!

Joanie Caron, M.Sc. Kinesiology, Integra IPS
Exercise physiologist (M.Sc Kinesiology) and professional cyclist, Joanie is currently racing for the Canadian Paralympic team as a pilot, as well as the US based squad DNA p/b K4 Racing. She is an associate coach at Integra IPS with the goal of supporting riders of all levels, and also a PowerWatts coach at Fortius Centre.

@trainIPS  |  integraips.com  |  Email