I treated a lovely gentleman at the clinic the other day. Phil is his name and apparently he’s well in with the Clinic owner, so I was on my best behaviour. It also turns out that he is big in the cycling events industry. During the treatment he talked about cyclists and how some always seemed to have tight hamstrings. This got my soft tissue therapist’s juices flowing….why would cyclists have tight hamstrings? So over a glass of medicinal Merlot I put down some thoughts.
Theory one: Hamstrings aren’t tight they’re tired. The action of pedalling, particularly if your saddle is too high, can make the hamstrings work in stretched position. Muscles tend to like to work in their mid range so forcing muscles to work in an elongated position can fatigue them quickly. In this case a light stretch would indeed help with the symptoms. Interestingly, studies have shown K tape to reduce this fatigue, although no ones too sure why or how this is.
Theory two: The riding position encourages a forward tilt of the pelvis. This, in turn, has the mechanical effect of increasing the length the hamstrings have to cover between the sit bone to just beneath the knee, so giving this tight feeling. In this case the stretching of the hamstrings would exacerbate the situation and allow the pelvis to tilt even more so making the “hammy’s” feel tighter – a vicious circle. A stretch of the hip flexors is required.
So there you go. Two quick theories requiring two completely different courses of action. Next time you’re out cycling and you get that tight feeling just have a little think before you act. Incidentally, the forward tilt of the pelvis can have other implications, but I’ll leave that for another day!
On a slightly different note, I’m devising a massage specifically for the weekend cyclist. I’m just doing my research at the moment and wondering how I can fit it all into 55 minutes. I’ve managed to secure a supplier of Galius massage oil. So, if you want to smell like the Movistar team, you know where to come. The massage will probably start in March but I’ll let you know how I’m going with it.