Technical FAQ: Adapting to crank changes; healing hamstrings

How easy is it to adapt to a new crankarm length? Lennard explains and fields follow-up on his custom saddle article.

Dear Lennard,
Years back when I raced road, I ran 172.5mm cranks and did so for several seasons. When my focus changed to MTB racing, I decided to go with 175mm for all my cranks and have stuck with that for 30+ years. I should note also that I am 5-foot-8. I had been going back to 172.5mm for the road. However, over the summer I used a loaner bike with 172.5mm, and they felt super-short and inefficient, particularly climbing.

In your view, is it worth it to make the change now? Or should I just stick with 175mm, to which it seems I’ve fully adapted?
— Bruce

Dear Bruce,
In my view, it’s worth it to change your road bike to 175mm. In my experience, it doesn’t take very long to adapt to a 2.5mm change in crank length. And if it feels better to you, then I see no reason not to do it. Or if you want to go the other way around and switch both to 172.5mm, that also will be an adjustment you’ll make quickly.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
That’s a lot of words, and a lot of measurements and a lot of pics  … to not give us the one and only important fact and figure: What does your saddle weigh?!
— Brian

Dear Brian,
I would have loved to have provided the saddle’s weight and was slapping my head about it while writing the article. However, I forgot to weigh it before putting it on the bike, and I wasn’t about to take it off just for that. On Meld’s site, it gives weight estimates with various configurations. I had hoped that was enough. My guess is that my saddle weighs around 250 grams.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I had a very similar injury as you described in your article about your custom Meld saddle. I am interested in looking at the saddle.

I had huge pain at the insertion point of the hamstring to the hip. My cure ended up being given to me by an orthopedic surgeon who told me that I had high hamstring tendonitis. He had me do negative leg curls on the hamstring machine. I started with very low weight and a lot of reps and built up. You can also do with a Swiss ball, but I think the machine is better for control.

From your article, you are already trying some things that I didn’t have available to me, such as the platelets.

When you can, I recommend that you consider doing negative (eccentric) weight lifting with your hamstring on a hamstring machine. See youtube video link below.

You can google eccentric hamstring curl exercises to see many more videos.

Once I started these, I was cured in a few weeks. I started with low weight but moved up to moderate weights and I still do them today for hamstring protection etc.

The key to recovery is eccentric weights which you can do with the Swiss ball. I went to the gym twice per day to use the hamstring machine, and it did work for me. The machine at the gym allows more weight than you can get with the ball.

Good luck, as I know how painful this can be. I was able to recover nearly 100 percent, so keep at it.
— Alan

Dear Alan,
Thanks for that. I have been doing these hamstring curls with slow, eccentric return daily on the Swiss ball since receiving your letter, and my pain is decreasing.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
In your latest VelonNews column, you mentioned PRP therapy as a treatment for a torn triceps. I was curious as to whether your treatment also involved surgery, as I was under the impression that surgery was required for the proper healing of a torn triceps. Can you elaborate on your treatment experience?
— John

Dear John,
Mine was not a complete tear, which probably would have required surgery. Rather, I had a partial tear and an enormous amount of inflammation that had been plaguing me for over a month.

The pain in my upper arm and elbow were initially misdiagnosed as tendinitis. I felt the need to treat it aggressively, as I was about to fly off to race the Finlandia Hiihto 50K classic- and 50K freestyle-technique cross-country ski races in Lahti, Finland, and the 90K classic Vasaloppet classic ski race in Mora, Sweden.

I went right away to an orthopedist, and, for the misdiagnosed tendinitis, I was prescribed a month-long increasing, then decreasing regimen of oral steroids. I started the steroids just before flying to Scandinavia, and they made no difference, even during the week gap between the races in Finland and the one in Sweden.

I suffered mightily in all three races. By the finish of the Vasaloppet, which is 90 kilometers of almost constant double-poling, my left arm was swollen like a sausage from shoulder to hand. I could no longer grasp my pole grip, and I could hardly lift it anymore. I slowed to a crawl and was pipped at the line by Pippa Middleton, Prince William’s sister-in-law, and was then bashed into by one of the clamoring cameramen in the scrum surrounding her immediately past the finish line.

Ultrasound imagery when I returned home showed tearing in my triceps was the actual culprit and explained why the steroids had not worked. I received one PRP injection directly into the inflamed area of my triceps, and it cleared up quickly. PRP is a critical part of the quick recovery of many pro riders after crashes and overuse injuries. I was able to cross-country ski again within a couple of weeks.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I just read about your relief from ischial tuberosity bursitis with a new custom saddle made especially to fit your butt contours. I had the same diagnosis after a slip and fall on our wet deck and had a two-month recovery before being comfortable riding again.

My saving grace was found nine years ago with the Hobson Easy Seat II, since at 72, I have spinal stenosis, lumbar arthritis, and a history of compression fractures and osteoporosis. At $65 it was a very inexpensive fix to order the initial seat through our bike shop. I love the ability to dial apart the pads to fit my sit bones perfectly. It also has the open space so there is no contact with my tailbone and no front horn touching tender anatomy. I just replaced my original one, since I wore out the cover. I called the company direct, dealing with the inventor, who trusted me to mail a check when the seat arrived. It may help someone who doesn’t have the budget for your perfect saddle and an option worth considering. Happy riding. Life is too short to stay indoors even for this rider who usually does 15 miles several times per week.
— Cheryl