Ride better with these health and nutritional tips

Let's talk hips

By Matt Powell

Hips are the domino joint for cyclists. Get them balanced and you’ll be mostly happy. Ignore them and the constancy of the cycling motion can lead to a cascade of back, hip and knee discomfort. Why?

The repetitive motion of cycling is predominantly done within a flexed inner hip range and is all in a straight line. The hip never reaches a position of neutral such as found in regular standing, let alone into actual extension where the long thigh extends out behind the body. It only goes sideways when you get on or off the bike. Not really enough for a training effect! Compounding the problem, many cyclists earn their keep sitting behind a desk and are tight in their hip flexors before even getting on their bikes.

The frequent result is training producing overactive, tighter hip flexors and quads and inhibited, weaker gluteals. So, what to do to be more injury resistant? Set yourself up for success before you get on your bike. Moderate stretching of the hips and quads is fine but don’t be aggressive Use the roller twice a week to get some release into the front of the hip and quads. Develop gluteal strength in the inner range. There is no substitute. As well as strengthening the gluts you will create active release in the hip flexors and quads. Use a bridge with emphasis on firm core activation and bringing the hips high.

Moderate stretching of the hips and quads is fine but don’t be aggressive.

Use the roller twice a week to get some release into the front of the hip and quads.

Want more challenge? Hold position while changing legs every 5 secs. Three each side and repeat 5 times. Add these to your routine two or three times a week as part of your injury prevention strategy.

Develop gluteal strength in the inner range. As well as strengthening the gluts you will create active release in the hip flexors and quads. Use a bridge with emphasis on firm core activation and bringing the hips high. 

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

Fueling your body right

By Melanie Ackerley

In all the years I have spent working as a personal trainer and nutritionist there is one thing I have come to know: you cannot out train a bad diet. Eating right is about developing healthy habits. Diets don’t work because they are simply not sustainable. The successes I see are those who follow the 80/20 philosophy; make good decisions 80% of the time, give yourself a break the other 20%.

Think of the body’s performance from its fueling sources to a car’s performance. To get your car to perform you don’t change the quantity of fuel, instead you improve the quality of the fuel (grade). The same principle applies to the food and drinks we consume on a regular basis, whether to help us improve performance in the game of life or on our bikes.

The quality of the foods we choose to fuel ourselves with is where the big difference in body composition management and performance will occur. “We are an over fed, under nourished nation.” We are consuming a lot of food/calories (bulk) but most of it is lacking the nutrients. “You can’t expect to look or perform like a million bucks, if you eat from the dollar menu.”

If you look at the different type of stressors one can subject themselves to, a high amount of exercise is one of them. The body responds to all stressors the same way - increased cortisol, sugar/carb cravings which equates to fat storing particularly in the abdominals.

If you are creating stress in your system with long rides and a high volume of training, it becomes exceedingly important to control the other forms of stress to keep your body strong and healthy. The body’s response to stress is the same whether emotional, mental or physical. This is why the way we choose to fuel our daily eating habits and our rides is so important. Take a closer look at some of the common food items you may be consuming on and off the bike.

Gatorade: This power beverage is full of colouring derived from brominated vegetable oil and refined sugars meant to keep the flavours in citrus drinks from separating. Named because it contains bromine, it is the same element found in flame retardant upholstery. How refreshingly noncombustible.

Chocolate milk: The carb/protein concept is right for post-workout fueling, however the body often can't use it with a lack of lactose breakdown capabilities.

Fortified cereals for athletes: Contains vitamins and minerals to be replenished as originally removed. A conducted study gave a group of rats the cereal to eat, another group the cereal box to eat, and saw a third group of rats which fasted. The rats that lived the longest were the ones that ate the box.

Power bars and protein powders: These products can increase dehydration due to the amount of contained protein. Protein requires water and oxygen for metabolism, and will pull it from your muscles which can lead to cramping.

Coffee and refined carbs: When blood sugar levels increase so does the body's fat storage. Coffee increases our cortisol and insulin production both of which have a negative effect on our nervous system. It supplies the body with artificial energy. When your body signals it's tired, rather then pouring a second cup of coffee, take the time to understand what might be causing your fatigue. 

Remember quality of food is more important than quantity. Deficiencies in the body occurs when we don’t eat what our body needs. When we eat whole foods, we actually eat less which spares our body from extra digestive work and increases our mental and physical energies. When we consume items that are processed or refined we are taking energy from our bodies and slowly breaking down our digestive system.

When we consume items that are whole, we are giving our bodies energy, we are supplying them with vitamins and minerals, enzymes. We call these givers. Your body can work with these foods and in exchange will turn them into readily available energy.

So on your next ride out, think about trading your Cliff bar for something less refined such as a Prima bar and you’ve already taken the first step towards improving the quality of the foods you choose to fuel your body with.

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