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Thread: Biking Shortening Hamstrings?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Highy's Avatar
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    Biking Shortening Hamstrings?

    I've noticed when running downhill my hamstrings have been feeling tight; I stretch after the run but the tightness remains for a couple of days after.

    I've only really noticed the tightness as my running mileage has dropped off.
    I'm thinking that the biking might be causing the hamstrings to shorten.
    The hamstring never seems to fully extend on the bike although I'm pretty certain my seat height is set ok. I haven't changed anything on the bike.

    Hoping some of the cyclists on here can help me out?

  2. #2
    Senior Member trilathon's Avatar
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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    You're most likely right in your conclusion....

    I do more cycling than running and rely on a bit of yoga to keep my body balanced and supple. If I neglect em I start feeling tight and painful.

    A few careful simple stretches, done regularily, will have you feeling great in no time

    Pilates is good too

  3. #3
    Orange Pony Hanneke's Avatar
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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    Yes, cycling does shorten the hamstrings... so plenty of stretching after a ride to counteract that. Also, ride at a high cadence, so that the hamstrings and quads don't bulk up too much... riding at a higher cadence is better x-training for running.

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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    Quote Originally Posted by Highy View Post
    I've noticed when running downhill my hamstrings have been feeling tight; I stretch after the run but the tightness remains for a couple of days after.

    I've only really noticed the tightness as my running mileage has dropped off.
    I'm thinking that the biking might be causing the hamstrings to shorten.
    The hamstring never seems to fully extend on the bike although I'm pretty certain my seat height is set ok. I haven't changed anything on the bike.

    Hoping some of the cyclists on here can help me out?
    If your hamstrings had shortened you wouldn't be able to stand straight. This is because the Hamstring muscles would be pulling on their connective tendons.

    Since the tendons don't contain elastic tissue, any shortness in the muscles couldn't be taken up as slack in them. Therefore the shortness would be conveyed to the associated body part causing movement.

    The hamstrings cause movement in several ways. By moving the foot towards your buttocks; drawing the leg behind the body(in combination with the buttock muscles); or if you touch your toes, straightening you up again.

    In cycling the leg is never drawn behind the body like in running. So the hamstrings don't get trained through this additional movement.

    If you run less and cycle more, some detraining will occur in the hamstrings, through this range of motion, and it's likely that this is causing your stiffness. In the same way as if you'd taken a break from running and then came back to it.
    Last edited by CL; 01-11-2008 at 12:34 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dylan's Avatar
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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    when i was on big cycle and running milage i found i had to stretch my hamstrings and calfs more, i also did a lot more striding out to extend my leg length,i found this helped a lot.
    now i cycle and run less milage,i have increased the quality of speed work on both,tweaking more on the pedals and striding out before and after speed work,of course along with stretching.
    you twiddle till you find what works.
    good luck and give us feedback

  6. #6
    Senior Member Highy's Avatar
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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    Cheers for the replies,

    I have neglected stretching really, most of my biking and some of my running tends to be commuting so I get out the door and just bike or run, pretty much the same at the other end.

    I've been trying the stretches after biking for the last couple of days (to the amusement of my colleagues!), going for a run later - I'll see if the hamstrings are any easier.

    Also, ride at a high cadence, so that the hamstrings and quads don't bulk up too much... riding at a higher cadence is better x-training for running.
    What would you consider a high cadence - I reckon I ride about 80/min at the moment - is that high enough?

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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    I read somewhere that 80-100 rpm is the most "efficient" way to cycle. At 100 I feel as if I'm about to throw myself off the bike, so I aim for 80ish. The link below is interesting but, as usual for me, overcomplicated!

    http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/art...-matters-16394
    Interestingly, a Japanese group [3] studying ‘college-aged cyclists’ found that the cadence with the lowest oxygen cost (VO2) was not the same as that producing the lowest muscular fatigue. Measuring the electrical activity of cycling specific muscles, called an electromyogram (EMG), they found 80-90 rpm had significantly lower EMG activity than any other cadence (70rpm, 100rpm) [3].
    However, the lowest amount of oxygen was used when pedalling at 60-70rpm, significantly less than 80-100rpm [3]. So, muscles have better neural efficiency when spinning, but this increases oxygen cost. To what extent these can be further trained is not clear, but the fact that professionals can ride at high cadences for hours and that club-level riders tend to ride in ever lower cadences as they tire, suggests cadence is a vital parameter for training.

  8. #8
    david
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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    Quote Originally Posted by marty mcfly View Post
    IAt 100 I feel as if I'm about to throw myself off the bike, so I aim for 80ish.
    You need to try riding fixed downhill .

  9. #9
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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    Quote Originally Posted by marty mcfly View Post
    I read somewhere that 80-100 rpm is the most "efficient" way to cycle. At 100 I feel as if I'm about to throw myself off the bike, so I aim for 80ish. The link below is interesting but, as usual for me, overcomplicated!

    http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/art...-matters-16394
    Interestingly, a Japanese group [3] studying ‘college-aged cyclists’ found that the cadence with the lowest oxygen cost (VO2) was not the same as that producing the lowest muscular fatigue. Measuring the electrical activity of cycling specific muscles, called an electromyogram (EMG), they found 80-90 rpm had significantly lower EMG activity than any other cadence (70rpm, 100rpm) [3].
    However, the lowest amount of oxygen was used when pedalling at 60-70rpm, significantly less than 80-100rpm [3]. So, muscles have better neural efficiency when spinning, but this increases oxygen cost. To what extent these can be further trained is not clear, but the fact that professionals can ride at high cadences for hours and that club-level riders tend to ride in ever lower cadences as they tire, suggests cadence is a vital parameter for training.
    Good study Marty.It just means that at a set speed, 60-70RPM uses less energy than 80-100. A downside of using the bigger-gear/lower cadence is neuromuscular fatigue.

    Well at least I'm assuming the speed was the same. The test would have no meaning otherwise.

    I suppose for those biking on a basis of 4-7times a week, 80 RPM,although requiring more energy will least fatigue the nervous system. For once or twice a week riding, lower cadence/bigger gears are better.

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    Re: Biking Shortening Hamstrin

    Quote Originally Posted by christopher leigh View Post
    Good study Marty.It just means that at a set speed, 60-70RPM uses less energy than 80-100. A downside of using the bigger-gear/lower cadence is neuromuscular fatigue.

    Well at least I'm assuming the speed was the same. The test would have no meaning otherwise.

    I suppose for those biking on a basis of 4-7times a week, 80 RPM,although requiring more energy will least fatigue the nervous system. For once or twice a week riding, lower cadence/bigger gears are better.
    So in this case the summary is:

    If you're looking to develop aerobic fitness, go for 80+. If you're looking to develop muscle strength, go for 60 and a big gear.

    Just common sense really!

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