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Improve your Bike Performance by Mobilising your Spine

Brad Hiskins explains the role of your thoracic spine and demonstrates how to mobilise it to boost your comfort and performance on the bike.

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Comfort and aerodynamics on a bike are two key factors to cycling efficiency, longevity and performance. Let’s explore these factors and educate ourselves on simple ways to increase our body’s capacity to absorb load and increase effectiveness in our cycling pursuits.

Cyclists, of all levels, would have spent time fiddling and adjusting their bikes to obtain the most effective set-up to enable comfort on those long Sunday morning rides. Even with this constant bike tinkering you will inevitably experience some discomfort through your back and/or neck. Sowhat can we do to adjust our backs rather than our bikes to achieve comfort?

Get that thoracic spine mobile!

Comfort

Your thoracic spine is the section of your spine that has the ribs attached, twelve in all (as there are twelve pairs of ribs). Having ribs attached to these vertebrae automatically make this section of your spine less mobile than your cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) spine. Therefore maintaining the little mobility of your thoracic spine is very important.

Why, you ask? Let’s have a look at the typical cycling posture. When seated on your bike you are in a forward bending position (trunk flexion). If you were to simulate this position on land you would look like Figure 1.

 

T-Rack 

Take note of the position of your head in this position; it is facing the ground. However when on a bike, you obviously need to look forward so your head has quite a dramatic change in position—it has to extend
through the cervical spine (Figure 2).

T-Rack

 

Your cervical spine is quite capable of doing this by itself. However this position is much more achievable and efficient if the thoracic spine also extends to take some of the load. It is this extension of the thoracic spine and its ability to bear some of the load that increases comfort levels through your neck and upper back.

See Figure 2 (hyperkyphotic) and Figure 3 (extended) for examples of movement coming predominantly from the cervical spine as opposed to the movement gained from the cervical and thoracic spine.

T-Rack 

Those who can achieve this thoracic spine extension will certainly experience less neck and upper back pain and hence increase their longevity in the sport.

 

Performance

Comfort will obviously improve performance. Reducing pain and muscular spasm from your neck and upper back will give you a physical and emotional advantage. Beyond this, an increase in range of movement in your thoracic spine will allow you to achieve a more aerodynamic position. A mobile thoracic spine allows you to lengthen your back into a streamline position, reducing air resistance and allowing you to travel at greater speeds with less effort and less deceleration. For those looking to improve their time trial ability, a mobile thoracic spine is a must. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on devising changes to bikes to achieve tiny aerodynamic advantages, and similarly huge amounts are spent on helmet and clothing technology. It is highly advisable then to complement this by having the most mobile, aerodynamic spine.

A stiff, hyperkyphotic thoracic spine substantially decreases your ability to breathe freely and deeply.

Breathing Capacity

Your ability to breathe fully is substantially impaired with a stiff thoracic spine. Try the following to see what I mean. While seated, put yourself into a ‘hyperkyphotic’ (excessive curve) thoracic posture (see Figure 4).

T-Rack 

While in this position (and try to keep yourself in this position throughout the exercise), try taking a deep breath. Now, to experience the difference with a less stiff thoracic spine and a ‘better’ postural position, sit up straight, taking away the hyperkyphotic thoracic spine (Figure 5).

T-Rack 

Now take a deep breath. Note the difference. Hence a stiff, hyperkyphotic thoracic spine substantially decreases your ability to breathe freely and deeply. Needless to say, air capacity is vital for the amateur and the professional cyclist to enjoy a Sunday ride or to compete at the
highest levels.

The T-Rack

The T-rack, is designed to reverse the poor posture we find ourselves in during our daily activities or sporting
ventures. It simply acts to mobilise your thoacic spine by you laying on it. Whereas a swiss ball will conform to your stiff spine, the PTR will not. Hence, your spine will have to conform to the shape of the PTR which has been angled to achieve optimal thoracic extension while reducing excessive lumbar extension. The diagrams in figures 6, 7 and 8 show you how this is done in a simple sequence.

T-Rack 

T-Rack

T-Rack 

Furthermore, the PTR has a moveable head piece that adjusts to the length of your spine allowing people of all heights to use it comfortably.

The rack can also be used by a therapist during treatment sessions. If you have regular maintenance massages, take it along with you. Your therapist can help you stretch, or even treat you while you are on the rack.

The PTR is designed for the travelling cyclist as well as the homebody. There are two versions of the Portable Thoracic Rack. The first is a robust model fashioned from aluminium that is more specifically for home and regular use at gymnasiums. The second is an extremely strong and lightweight (700 grams) robust plastic model that fits neatly into sports bags making it an easy tool to carry with you.

For further information about the Portable Thoracic Rack, see www.t-rack.com.au

 

 

 


Brad Hiskins has a Bachelor of Science (maj. Exercise Physiology), a Diploma in Soft Tissue Therapy, and has worked as Head of Service for the Athens Olympic Games, Soft Tissue Therapy service provider to the Australian Team at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympic Games, Head of Service for Manchester and Melbourne Commonwealth Games and Soft Tissue Therapist at the Australian Institute of Sport from 1994 to 2005. He has long been a provider of soft tissue therapy to numerous national sporting teams and AIS athletes.

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Do Your TrainingPeaks workouts in Zwift

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Are you a TrainingPeaks user and also love using Zwift on those days that aren’t great to be outdoors? Well, today marks a significant step forward for both companies as the integration just got a whole heap better for us.

Many of us are using TrainingPeaks because our coach uses it and they put the required workout information in there for us to complete (or not) plus it’s great for understanding certain key metrics.

From today, you can now do your TrainingPeaks Structured Training within Zwift without doing any fancy export/import or be recreating those sessions in Zwift – and hands up who has done that before? Just login to Zwift and make sure your account is linked to your TrainingPeaks account – you can check this on the connections page. If they are connected, disconnect and connect them again just to be safe. Next, make sure your workout has been saved via TrainingPeaks Structured Workout Builder.

Lastly, login to Zwift, select workouts, and find today’s workout under the TrainingPeaks dropdown. You’ll only see the workout for the current day, and it updates automatically each day.

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Argon 18 Launches Cutting Edge Technology Notio Konect

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Argon 18, the international high-performance bicycle company, has announced the launch of Notio Konect evolving their 2016 Smart Bike Prototype, which debuted at last year’s Eurobike Show. Notio Konect, the first cutting edge innovation of the newly launched company Notio Technologies Inc, will be presented at the Argon 18 booth at Eurobike.

Following last season’s successful prototype launch of the Smart Bike technology, the bike manufacturer evolved the vision to develop Notio Technologies Inc., a subsidiary dedicated to R&D, innovation, performance and excellence within the bicycle technology industry sector.

“In today’s industry, there is so many metrics and methods to foster a relationship between the rider and the bike. But the disconnect was the way to gather, analysis and then use all this data in a way that a rider could benefit from all the various numbers and readings. Notio Konect was developed to build a strong relationship between the rider and bike, to go faster, to be efficient and improve your global riding performance,” said Gervais Rioux, president and founder, Argon 18. “We have created products to gather the numbers, bring them together so one can understand them and gain a complete riding analysis.”

Notio Konect is a usable device for all bicycle brands that combines measurements from eight families of data to revolutionize the rider analytics relationship to performance and comfort. A unique functionality of the Notio Konect is real time accurate data in a useable and understandable format in addition to post-race analysis capabilities. Notio Konect technology was developed using detailed testing with professional and high-performance athletes, including the Astana Pro Team during this year’s Tour de France along with various coaching companies and recreational teams. This cross platform testing has helped the company create a diverse demographic understanding of the data requirements of various levels of athletes in multiple endurance sports.

Notio Technologies Inc. plans to market various advanced, high-end products, targeting professional teams and high-level endurance athletes as well as bring to market products that create and build the relationship between rider and bicycle on a recreational and fitness level. Product line includes models developed for coaches, teams and fit studios.

“Notio offers a 360degree view of the data and a 360 degree view of the process, from setting goals to planning to executing and monitoring along sharing and collaborating. Notio takes these views of data and cohesively brings together the metrics into a useable and relatable format for all levels of athletes, ranging from the world’s top professionals to fanatics and enthusiasts, ,” said Marc Graveline, CEO of Notio Technologies Inc.

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MIPS Debuts New Brain Safety Products

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MIPS, the premier brain safety technology company, is offering their patented impact protection system in two new platforms that drastically increase the compatible helmet types and models. Both new platforms are built upon the same decades of research and study that went into the flagship MIPS system, expanding the MIPS low-friction layer into other helmet formats and expanding the integration of the existing technology.

The first product, the A1 (informally, the Pocket), is a series of plates embedded in the helmet’s interior and anchored between fabric layers. The plates move omnidirectionally, thanks to the low-friction plastic construction of the plates and the specialty elastic fabric layers. The A1 employs the same concept of the full-sized low-friction helmet liner, but integrates fully with the helmet padding, using the specially-designed plates to achieve the crucial 10-15mm of movement to redirect damaging rotational motion from oblique head impacts.

The second platform, the E2 (informally, the Beanie) solution, is a soft, cap-like insert that acts as a full-headed low-friction layer for full-face cycling, motocross, and street sport helmets. The Liner is made up of two multi-directional, stretch fabric layers sewn together around a thin, plastic foil. When inserted between the comfort padding of the helmet and the outer EPS shell, the Liner provides broad coverage from rotational motion without sacrificing comfort or sweat absorption.

The A1 and E2 products both build on MIPS’ 20 years of research by Sweden’s leading neuroscientists and engineers. This research strictly addresses a solution to the damaging effects of rotational motion experienced in a crash. All MIPS products ensure a 10-15mm relative motion between the head and helmet during the crucial 2-3 milliseconds after an impact. While all crashes are different, MIPS products can result in at least a 10% reduction in strain on the brain.

“MIPS is committed to protection from brain injury and, in order to make as much of a difference, we have to work with as many helmet brands as possible,” says Johan Thiel, CEO of MIPS. “Products like the A1 and the E2 expand how our technology can integrate with all kinds of helmets, giving MIPS the potential to help keep even more people at a lower risk for debilitating brain injuries.”

Both products, like all MIPS solutions, are integrated into the helmet design and represent a close collaboration with the helmet manufacturers. More and more brands are equipping MIPS into their products with all the manufacturers offering at least one MIPS model helmet in 2017. Models featuring the A1 and E2 will debut in the spring 2018 with several new and current helmet brand partners.

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TrainingPeaks Announces New Peak Performances Feature

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TrainingPeaks has announced the launch of Peak Performances, a new feature for TrainingPeaks web and mobile applications.

As the leader in performance-based training and athlete management software, TrainingPeaks saw a need to make progress easier to track outside of just testing and racing.

With this in mind, TrainingPeaks is happy to announce the release of Peak Performances for all Premium athlete subscribers and coaches. With this new feature, athletes and their coaches can now see progress in power, run pace over a given distance, and heart rate across all bike and run workouts.

“Achieving a goal is about consistency and progress over time, laying the foundation and then building upon it with longer, faster and often more intense workouts,” said Dirk Friel, President, Chief of Fitness Brands at TrainingPeaks. “While the goal is the ultimate destination, knowing whether or not you are on course to reach that goal is just as important to both an athlete and their coach—and Peak Performances makes it as simple as uploading a workout.”

Additionally, a timeline in the mobile app shows where each Peak Performance ranks among others of this year and/or all time. This historical perspective keeps athletes on track with every upload, motivating them to keep pushing harder, or showing them where their best performances rank across all time.

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CeramicSpeed Introduces World’s Fastest Chain Coating

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After more than 4,000 hours of lab and field testing, Friction Facts and CeramicSpeed now introduce the world’s fastest bottled chain product. UFO Drip Chain Coating is a breakthrough product. It began as a project with very specific goals, which at its core, shares the same DNA that defines the rest of CeramicSpeed’s exceptional product line: visionary ambition, research-based precision testing, and premium quality.

What is the UFO Drip Chain Coating?

The coating is a bottled product for chains that is applied in liquid form, and which hardens to a 100% dry chain coating. It generates less friction than any other chain lube on the market (being out-performed only by the factory-treated UFO Racing Chain). And as Friction Facts’ research has so often concluded: every watt lost to friction is one less watt available to power the bike forwards.

Chief Technology Officer at CeramicSpeed, Jason Smith, the brain behind this revolutionary product, explains:

“Other lubricants may claim to be “the fastest”, but data-driven testing – not to mention logic and semantics – suggests otherwise. There can only be one “fastest”. And UFO Drip Chain Coating is it.”

The Revolution

Jason Smith is the founder of Friction Facts, the independent friction lab that was acquired by CeramicSpeed in 2016. Smith had already invented the renowned UFO Racing Chain treatment – UFO stands for ‘Ultra Fast Optimisation’ – a factory treatment process that delivers the fastest bicycle chain in
the world. What makes the UFO Racing Chain the ultimate friction-beater, is an innovative factory-applied chain coating. However, CeramicSpeed had more radical ambitions – they wanted to liberate UFO-like speed from the bespoke factory process, somehow bottle it, and put it in the hands of the people.

“From the beginning, there was only one box to tick,” says CeramicSpeed Executive Vice President Martin Banke. “And that was to create the world’s fastest drip-applied chain lubricant. When CeramicSpeed do something, we do it 100%. UFO Drip Chain Coating is a revolutionary product – technically and performance-wise, it is unlike anything else on the market.”

After months of development, Smith came up with a formula consisting of 10 components; a blend of waxes, trace oils, and friction modifiers. It was a liquid product that was easy to apply to a bike chain, which hardened into a completely dry coating. It tested very, very fast; out-performing by far the best available drip lubes in frictional loss benchmarking.

More quantitative and qualitative testing than any other product in the market

“Personally, and in my capacity as the Chief Technology Officer of CeramicSpeed, I can proudly state that every claim we make about the performance of UFO Drip Chain Coating is 100% supported by the test data. If we haven’t tested it, we are not going to make the claim,” says Jason Smith, and continues, “I prefer to focus on the data. If the product works, I’m going to have masses of data that shows you it works. Friction Facts, now the dedicated drivetrain efficiency lab of CeramicSpeed, is the only facility with all friction- testing equipment under one roof. CeramicSpeed is the only manufacturer who have the capability to friction-test
so comprehensively, in support of a new product.”

The UFO Drip Chain Coating data proves:

  • The world’s fastest bottled product for chains
  • 20% lower friction than the second fastest bottled lubricant in initial pre-ride friction
  • 83% lower than the second fastest bottled lubricant in post-ride friction
  • 46% decreased drivetrain wear vs wet lubes
  • Minimum of 200k between applications
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Shimano PRO’S Fastest Tri-Spoke Wheel Now Available as a Clincher

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Joining the tri-spoke tubular and rear disc clincher wheels in its line-up, PRO now releases its Tri-spoke Clincher front wheel designed for triathletes and time trialists.

Whilst tubular wheels are the racing choice of the pro’s, it’s not possible to quickly repair a punctured tubular. Riders who puncture on a tubular during a race will usually take a spare wheel from their team car or neutral support service. For riders who don’t have this luxury, the new PRO tri-spoke clincher wheel offers high speed aerodynamics with the practicality of being able to quickly repair punctures on the roadside.

Shimano’s new PRO tri-spoke Clincher wheel (PRWH0040).

Tech features

The Tri-spoke Clincher uses the same technology trickled down from the Tubular version, with the same aerodynamic shape as the Tri-spoke Textreme wheel with a 3K 2×2 twill carbon weave and a wide 65mm deep rim design for optimum aerodynamics, suitable for 25mm clincher tires. The Tri-spoke Clincher is built around an Ultegra 6800 hub, weighing 1040g in total and comes with a protective PRO wheel bag.

The PRO Tri-spoke Tubular wheel is regarded as one of the fastest on the planet, being ridden to victory in multiple World Tour time trials by the likes of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas of Team Sky, Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis of BMC, Primoz Roglic of LottoNL-Jumbo and Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb.

Together with the current PRO Rear Disc Clincher, the new PRO Tri-spoke Clincher wheel completes the full aerodynamic set up for triathletes and testers looking for the elite wheel technology that has helped many world-class athletes achieve the highest-level victories.

The PRO Tri-spoke wheel will be available from January 2018.

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