Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bike Fit for Kids: At-Home and Professional

Does your kid need a bicycle fitting, or cycling position optimization?
Probably not. 
If your child is under 13 years old and only riding around the block or possibly back and forth to school, then a professional fitting is certainly not necessary. However, some basics can help your child be more efficient and comfortable and stay healthy on the bike.
When the saddle position is correct, your child will pedal more efficiently with more ease and comfort.
A good estimate for seat height (A in the diagram to the right) is approximately ½ inch less than your kid’s

·       A good estimate for seat height (A) is approximately 
½ inch less than your kid’s inseam.
·       Next, put the nose of the saddle approximately 1 ½ to 
3 inches behind the center of the bottom bracket (B).
·       Once the saddle is in the right position, get the 
handlebars about level with the saddle (D = 0), and 
adjust the reach (C) so that when your kid grabs the 
handlebars, he or she is not locking out his or her 
inseam.  You can measure inseam length yourself, or you might already know it from the child’s pant length size. Seat height is measured from the center of the bottom bracket (the axle where the crank arms go through) to the top of the saddle in line with the frame of the bike.

Next put the nose of the saddle approximately 1 ½ to 3 inches behind the center of the bottom bracket (B). You can use a plumb line going straight down from the nose of the saddle to measure this distance accurately.
Proper handlebar position will minimize strain for your son or daughter's neck, upper back, and shoulders.
Once the saddle is in the right position, set the handlebars up by adjusting the stem so your child does not have to reach too far or down. Get the handlebars about level with the saddle (D = 0), and adjust the reach (C) so that when your kid grabs the handlebars, he or she is not locking out his or her elbows.
These basics will keep most kids comfortable and efficient on their bikes. If your child is riding a bit more intensively, consider bringing him or her in for a professional bike fit. Many of the kids we work with for cycling position optimization are 13 years or older and are riding more than 7 to 10 hours per week. These kids can be riding for fun or even considering racing. A professional bike fit will help keep your child efficient, comfortable, and injury-free throughout a lifetime of dedicated cycling.

Revolutions in Fitness provides cycling position optimization for dedicated
junior riders, like these members of the San Jose Bicycle Club.
In case you decide that a professional cycling position optimization is right for a child you know, we are offering a 50% DISCOUNT on bike fit for children now through the end of the year. Great for last minute stocking stuffers! Email or call to order: / (650) 260-4743

Monday, November 25, 2013

Revolutions’ PT, Mark McMahon authors an interesting article about hip health and the practice of yoga to lessen the pain and tension of certain yoga poses.

Solving the hip yoga puzzle the FMT way

by  Mark McMahon, DPT, OMT
Yoga Instructor in the Iyengar tradition

This NY Times article by William Broad puts the spotlight on the potential risks of yoga practice, especially regarding  women’s hip health. The author uses primarily anecdotal evidence from respected orthopedists and yoga teachers to show an apparent recent trend of hip injury among women yoga practitioners. The doctors theorize that some yoga poses which emphasize fully folding or twisting the hip joint, along with women’s natural flexibility toward these poses, contribute to pinching and unnecessary degeneration of the tissues around the hip. After describing the problem, the experts make some common sense suggestions: practice gently, avoid poses where the hip is fully folded, and don’t push through pain. This is sound advice, given that a primary principle of yoga practice is to cultivate nonviolence.

I would point out modern American life has wreaked havoc on hips, it’s been proven: the US has the highest per capita rate of hip replacement in the world. Sitting, driving, and other sedentary lifestyle issues are probably much worrisome factors in the epidemic than the few overaggressive yoga practitioners! In general, even Mr. Broad acknowledges, yoga probably helps more people maintain joint and body health than get injured doing yoga. So it’s likely that the problem with yoga injuries lies not with the poses themselves, but in how they are (or not!) being instructed.

The primary safeguard from developing an injury in yoga is to find a good teacher and attend classes regularly. A good teacher should be able to give verbal and/or touch cues to guide a student to a proper alignment in a pose. If that’s not possible then they should be able to give a modification which allows the student to experience the essence of the pose with less strain. Classes in which poses move very quickly from one to another, or in which few alignment cues are given, should be considered for advanced practitioners. Instructors who encourage competitive straining or “pushing through the pain” are to be avoided. Finding the right class and intensity level for you is key. Those with significant injuries or other concerns about their musculoskeletal health might do best with private instruction at first from a qualified teacher, before getting into general yoga classes, OR entering into a course of physical therapy with yoga goals in mind.

Here at Revolutions in Fitness we commonly work with all kinds athletes of all levels, with all kinds of goals. Our physical therapists work with the the principles of Functional Manual Therapy (FMT), as taught by the Institute of Physical Art (Gregg and Vicki Johnson, co-founders), in which treatment is guided by the overriding goal of enhancing function through the entire system, not just the injured body part.  Given its central location in the body and how it transmits force from leg to torso and vice versa, a strong, stable hip is key to any athletic pursuit. The hip is just like the shoulder, it has its own "rotator cuff" system which often needs to be strengthened to ensure the health of the joint. Whether you’re walking, running, cycling, or holding a yoga pose, an efficient hip helps. What does efficient mean? According to FMT, an efficient joint has a) good mechanical alignment and mobility, b) sufficient strength, endurance and power for the desired activity and c) good control of movement and position throughout the range of motion of the activity. So in yoga for instance, a very flexible woman may need to be trained to NOT fold the hip all the way during a forward bending pose! This takes strength, control, and awareness. All of these qualities can be assessed, trained and enhanced with the FMT approach in a physical therapy setting.

So if you’re a yogi or yogini and your hip is bugging you, don’t ignore it. Consider a consult with one of our expert PTs to help sort things out. Or if you’re happy with your yoga and just want to keep it that way, we can help you identify and improve weaker areas that can lead to problems in the future. Yoga practice can be a wonderful laboratory for self improvement and integration of body and mind. Wishing you safe movement and happy hips.