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Fast Talk podcast, ep. 87: Preventing injuries through strength and conditioning with Jess Elliott

In this week's episode, we discuss the most common cycling overuse and imbalance injuries, and how to address them with off-the-bike work and proper bike fit.

Typically, when we hear the words “strength training,” we think of going into the gym, slapping some plates on a bar, and seeing what we can lift. The more, the better.

But there’s a lot more to strength training than that, especially for those of us focused on endurance sports. Strength and conditioning is also about maintaining proper function, training neural patterns, and preventing injury. Sports like cycling, by nature, cause imbalances. If all you do is ride your bike, an overuse injury is nearly guaranteed for your future.

We also believe that weight training aids performance on the bike. Regardless of your position, as Coach Connor likes to point out, no matter what you believe, race performance will suffer if you’re sitting on the sidelines with a bad back or painful knee injury.

So, in this episode of Fast Talk, we’re going to discuss four of the most common overuse and imbalance injuries in cyclists and how to address them with off-the-bike work and proper bike fit.

Patellar tendinitis, or pain at the front of the knee. Cycling is a quad dominant sport. Keeping balance and doing some loaded eccentric work can help prevent this very common pain.

Pelvic obliquity, a broad term for imbalances and asymmetrical movements in the hips.

Back pain. A proper bike fit and learning to rely on your glutes and hamstrings instead of the postural muscles of the back can go a long way towards preventing this all-too-common issue.

Thoracic kyphosis, a fancy term for a slouched back, which is common among cyclists. Regular exercise to open the chest will help you improve posture off the bike.

Our guest today is owner of Tag Performance and University of Denver faculty member in Human Performance and Sports, Jess Elliot.

Jess recently taught a half-day workshop on strength training for endurance athletes at the Training Peaks Endurance Summit and, for those of you in the Colorado area, because of the popularity of that workshop, she’s hosting it again on December 7. Go to her website to sign up. Use the code “fastlabs” to get a $25 discount.

You’re going to hear a lot of technical terms in this episode; we hope you walk away with an understanding that effective strength training is about more than creating a list of exercises then going to the gym and giving it your best shot. Proper movement, ensuring you are activating the correct firing patterns, and lifting an appropriate weight are all crucial. To help out, Jess is posting videos of most of the exercises we discuss on her website.

Along with Jess, Trevor talked with Charles Van Atta, the head biomechanist and fitter at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center. There’s no point in doing the off-the-bike work to resolve an over-use injury if a poor bike fit is promoting it. Charles addresses each of our four injuries from a bike fit perspective.

With that, let’s make you fast.