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Pedalling Technique from a Physiotherapist’s Point of View

Today's blog comes from The White House Clinic who this year added a Wattbike to their impressive set-up in the city of Sheffield. The Wattbike really adds value to a physiotherapist's work and in many ways so we thought we'd ask the people at The White House Clinic to tell us about how they use the Polar View, the Wattbike's innovative pedalling technique analysis. Here's what they had to say...

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By The White House Clinic

Wattbike White House PhysioBack in August Sheffield-based physiotherapists The White House Clinic got its hands on a shiny, new Wattbike. With the 2014 Tour de France taking a route through Sheffield, our hometown, we thought it was the perfect time to get our hands on the latest bit of cycling equipment, not only for us to have a bit of fun with, but also to add to our rehabilitation equipment.

The unique amount of feedback and data that the Wattbike can provide means it’s an ideal piece of kit to develop bespoke and highly targeted rehabilitation programmes which is something we’re really excited about taking advantage of. The first thing we were eager to do however, was put the bike through its paces, and needless to say we were very impressed.

First up was Steve, one of our physiotherapists who does triathlon in his spare time. Well, when we say “does triathlon” we mean he recently represented Great Britain in the Triathlon World Championships making him a little different from your average amateur competitor.

He’s also an enthusiastic time trial cyclist so he was the perfect candidate for giving the Wattbike its first ride to see what it could teach him. Steve’s strengths lie in running, so he was keen to learn how he could improve his cycling to boost his triathlon performance.

What Steve found:

The first thing Steve wanted to look at was his pedalling. The Wattbike allows you to assess your pedalling technique through the unique polar view graph which looks like this:

After a detailed bike fitting was carried out at the Wattbike training centre Steve’s first step was to take a look at this graph. Heart in mouth he had a look to discover that, unsurprisingly, his was the shape of an experienced cyclist. Olympic cyclists at the level of Chris Hoy have an oval shaped graph and though Steve isn’t quite there (yet!) his graph was a sound intermediate shape with potential for the improvement he desires.

Wattbike Polar View Elite Beginner Intermediate

The graph also shows the difference in power between each leg – 52% on the right and 48% on the left. Steve does have a history of previous knee and ankle injuries in his left leg so it was interesting to see the impact of these presenting in the graph. This is a feature which will be really useful when rehabilitating patients. We’ll be able to precisely track the progress and improvement post injury, and the patient will be able to see for themselves exactly how their power is improving.

For now, Steve has been able to incorporate this first bit of information into his training plan. The next steps for Steve will be looking at cadence and power output to see how he can improve but also to understand how patients’ rehabilitation programmes can take advantage of these features!