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Using The Off Season To Address Injury, Bike Fit And Technique

During intense periods of training and competition it’s not unusual to pick up a few niggling problems. Cyclists are renowned for pushing on through minor injuries, not wanting to miss a day of training or back out of a competition. Take advantage of the off-season to address your injuries in preparation for a successful 2017. 

If you have had a persistent ache or pain now is the time to start unraveling the cause of it and work on finding a solution. Some problems respond well to rest but don’t be deceived by this. Chronic injuries never just disappear, in spring when you start to increase your training intensity again it will be back unless you have addressed the root cause. Most cycling injuries need a multi-pronged attack from a physiotherapist, a bike fit expert and of course you as the rider to invest the time in rehabilitation. 

Riding many hours in a fixed position will exacerbate any physical problems that you have. Our bodies are not symmetrical and over time we can start to develop compensatory techniques to make up for muscular imbalances. Pain or discomfort will occur if our bike does not fit us correctly, but bike fit alone is seldom the solution. We also need to work on addressing our strengths and weaknesses to improve our bike posture, including our technique.

Bike Fit 

Injury is not the only reason to spend the off-season working on your position. Bikes are adjustable but our bodies are adaptable. It is fool hardy to radically change your bike set up in the summer season. An unfamiliar position could lead to an injury or a drop in performance so there is no way you would want to do this before an important event. When you start to change your position it is best to spend some time getting used to it at low effort levels before seeing how your body copes with it at higher intensities. The reduction in training volume and intensity in winter provides the perfect opportunity to work on developing your position. 

Bike fit is dynamic, it changes over time, sometimes due to negative factors such as injury or ageing but positive changes can also be made with specific conditioning work. For instance, you’d like to improve your aerodynamics, maybe lower the front end of your bike a little or be comfortable enough to ride in the drops for longer. Working in tandem with a bike fit expert and physiotherapist with some strength and flexibility work you will be able to gradually adapt your body to the changes you want to make to your bike. 

Strength and conditioning training

Let’s face it riding our bikes is a lot more fun than doing conditioning exercises, even though we know we should do them. During the winter season when you are committing less hours to training or competing there are less excuses for avoiding it! Factor in time for it conditioning with the same commitment as you do cycling. 

Winter is also a great time to work on your technique. Technique sessions are less physically demanding but require focus and mental engagement, perfect for easy days and recovery rides at the start of the off-season. Learn better technique during low intensity rides so that the foundations are firmly established and you can maintain good form even as the effort levels of your training ramp up. 

Time invested in the winter on addressing these issues will be well spent as it will create a good strong platform to spring-board you into next season. The more prepared your body is to train and the more resilient it is to injury the better you will perform in 2017.   

Written by Hannah Reynolds

Hannah is proof that you don’t need to be good at racing to pin on a number, just enthusiastic. She has ridden some of the world’s toughest sportives including the Haute Route Alps, La Marmotte and Megavalanche – the famous downhill mountain bike race.

When she’s not on the bike, Hannah is a freelance writer and journalist and former Editor of Cycling Weekly and Cycling Active. She is co-authour of France en Velo and Bloomsbury publications Fitter, Faster, Further and Get on Your Bike.

Follow Hannah and her cycling adventures over on Twitter @hannahmreynolds and Instagram @hannahmreynolds.