Just a short post about recent physiotherapy experiences (and apologies for the rather grim photo. It’s the only thing I could think of which matched the title)
When I went to Physio in Jan 2010, I couldn’t bend my leg in a straight line – it wobbled all over the place. No wonder I had knee problems back then. I was really shocked because I spent so much time cycling. I assumed time on bike must = strong legs.
In Feb 2012, the leg was stronger, I could bend it in a straight line. But, on a seated leg press I could only lift:
- Right leg – 30kg
- Left leg – 20kg.
The left leg was 33-50% weaker, so again not surprising some problems.
After 4 weeks of simple physio exercise, I was interested to see what I could lift on seated leg press.
- Right leg 50kg (Just)
- left leg 40kg
My left leg had doubled in strength and right leg had got marginally stronger. It’s nothing to write home about. If you’re a climber and timetriallist, leg strength really isn’t that important. The most important thing is how much oxygen you can get through your body. When we say ‘he didn’t have the legs’ it would be more appropriate to say ‘he didn’t have the oxygen uptake necessary’ – I don’t think it will catch on ‘he didn’t have the legs’ has a better ring to it.
But, length strength does have some bearing on power. (I don’t really know the exact sports science). Stronger legs won’t win you every race, but they can’t do any harm. Again I was really quite surprised that simple exercises for four weeks could effectively double leg strength – and most importantly reduce the imbalance. If I can further correct the imbalance hopefully, it will be even better.
The knee is definitely better, though there are still niggles and I had to rest for 2 days after last race; I’m not 100% – But, I’m fairly confident / hopeful it will continue to get better.
- I’m not a member of a gym (and really don’t like the places), but I want to regularly test the strength of respective legs with something like a leg press machine.
- I have been guilty in past of ‘turning up my nose’ at ‘core strength exercises’ – I kind of wrote it off as a ‘fashionable’ training buzzword. – I always thought you could do all your training on the bike. But, since I’m quite susceptible to knee problems, it seems quite important in my case. I don’t have a desire to build up super muscles like a Mark Cavendish. I’d be happy to maintain current strength, rather than keep getting stronger. It is hard to combine really hard endurance training with leg strength.
- Rather than concentrating on stacking up the miles, a week or two concentrating of leg strength work may have given me a better return (though cycling is always more fun than leg presses!)