YOUR BIKEFIT PRACTITIONER – RHIANON NORTON

Profrom bikefit was established by Rhianon Norton in 2017 out of a special interest in cycling, injury management and performance optimisation.

Rhianon Norton is a registered Osteopath, 5 years university, with years of experience treating musculoskeletal pain and injuries.  Her Osteopathic experience and knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics have allowed her to combine this with her passion, cycling.

Rhianon has been surrounded by cycling for almost two decades.  Having followed her husband through his cycling journey in junior through to the Elite level.

In 2016, Rhianon took up track cycling in the individual pursuit.  In 2017, she took out the Victorian Masters Womens1, 2km pursuit title, and also holds the Australian title for the same event.

Rhianon has undertaken further study to provide the most up to date application of bikefit for each cyclist.

Having been a recreational cyclist herself, to now competing, she understands the very different needs and physical demands that each individual cyclist can have.

Importance of getting a Bikefit

Having your bike fit you is a very important factor in improving comfort, reducing injury risk and improving your performance.1

A poor bikefit can lead to repetitive strain and over use injuries. Often these begin as occasional symptoms, like a slightly sore knee, or an achey low back. But can progress to being quite painful and restrict your activity, both on and off the bike.

Symptoms that may be contributed to by poor bike set up:

  • Neck and shoulder tension
  • Hand and wrist pain
  • Tingling or numbness in hands
  • Low back pain
  • Hamstring tension, pain or injuries
  • Knee pain
  • Numbness in feet or legs

Another issue that can arise is, functional asymmetries. Meaning, your body adapts to the poor fit of the bike, and you can still ride, but your body is paying the price. Examples – strong muscle group being predominately used and the weaker muscles beingused minimally, pedaling with more force on one leg, putting more pressure the handlebars, arching your lower back or hunching your shoulders, and develop a sub-optimal pedaling technique.

The further away from optimal pedaling requires more energy/ force and increase load onmuscles. The body is less efficient, and thus your performance is less effective.

As the intensity of your effort increases, the asymmetries you have in your body will become more evident.

Bike assessment checklist

  • Seat height
  • Head stem length
  • Handle bar width
  • Saddle fore-aft position
  • Crank length
  • Hood position
  • Stack height of handlebars
  • Bike dimension – for those who are yet to purchase a new bike

Rider assessment

  • Leg length measurements – from hip and inseam
  • Angles of ankle, knee, hip, lower back, shoulder, neck, elbows and wrists
  • Functional assessment on the bike – pedaling style/ technique and asymmetries
  • Power balance left and right
  • Cleat position / symmetry
  • Position on bike – at rest, under light and high load
  • Stability on and off bike – core
  • Strength assessment of main muscle groups: gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings.

Aerodynamics and cycling performance

There has been extensive research into the factors influencing cycling performance. One of which is the cyclists position and aerodynamics. It has been found that even small changes in position can result in large performance improvements. Optimal positioning also allows for a reduction in watts required to maintain a certain speed. For time trials and triathlon this can be vital; Research has shown that optimal aerodynamic position has potential to improve performance by up to several minutes.2

Women’s specific cycling considerations

Many women suffer greatly with discomfort and pain while cycling.  The anatomy of females makes for a much more uncomfortable ride when position or saddle choice are not ideal.  The pain can be so great, it can lead to many women giving up on cycling.

However, women can experience a pain free comfortable ride on your bike.  You just need some position, and possibly equipment tweaking. Speaking from personal experience, when riding recreationally I almost gave up due to pain.  Thankfully women’s specific saddles are now readily available.  And they really do make a difference.  Combining the right saddle to suit our level of cycling and your body’s position on the bike is critical to overcoming this discomfort, and to start enjoying being out on the bike.

Typically the way women sit on the bike attempting to avoid the pain in their soft tissues results in them having a less than ideal posture.  This can lead to pain in the low back, shoulders, neck, even additional strain on hamstrings and knees.  Over time, altered pedalling action leads to weakness in some muscles of the leg, and over-firing  of others.  This increase load often translates into pain and over time, injuries.

With a Proform Bikefit, I can help you achieve your best position on the bike. This will have a positive impact on not only your comfort, but improve your enjoyment and overall experience of cycling.

References

  1. The science of cycling: factors affecting performance. Faria et al. SportsMed, 2005;35(4): 313-37
  2. Improving cycling performance, A Jeukendrup, J Martin, Sports Medicine, 2001;31(7)559