Back/hip/what's going on?

This is a good 8 week program - I finished this about 4 weeks ago. Really focused on hip / glutes / stability.

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It will vary from person to person because folks’ respective and relative femur and tibia lengths are different. Knee extension is easy (straightening at the knee) through the pedal-arc but working more hip-extension (straightening at the hip) takes more fiddling. One easy thing to do work at starting your push over the top of your stroke earlier (@11:30) and with a flatter foot, then continuing through the power phase with that same flatter foot and then finish with a slight toe-down push. Try standing on your toes (on the floor) and you will note that doing so activates the quads (vastus medialis and vastus lateralis). For more detail on the interplay between the quads and posterior chain Google “Lombard’s Paradox” and read further — adding “cycling” into your search will narrow the focus further.
Bill Black

Thanks, will do!

Sounds to me like a fit issue! Try to find a professional bike fitter and explain to him/her what is happening. Having the wrong saddle position might explain the problem. If you had hip or back issues I would think that it would happen when you are running as well


I self-diagnosed myself with this. I had had sciatica for a year. I went to a PT and a sports chiropractor which a background in cycling. It helped a little but wasn’t a cure. Within 3 days of doing a basic lower crossed syndrome workout - gluts, core, stretch hip flexors I was cured.

I’m not suggesting this for the OP though most people can benefit if they sit all day at a desk for a living.

I would see a bike fitter but a really good one. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a real guru that would be willing to figure out why you’re 30 watts higher on one side. That seems like a huge clue to me that should be investigated.

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Definitely get the hip examined/scanned. I suffered with back pain /spasms and what I thought was sciatica for years. I eventually was diagnosed with femoral acetabular impingement (fai or hip impingement)
I ended up having surgery for it which has completely eliminated the pain but I think it can be managed more conservatively depending on the extent.
Good luck!

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Can you film yourself (from behind) when pedalling? Maybe your power/leg imbalance makes you sit a bit weird. It might only show up after a while, so maybe not during a short bike fit session (where you stop and change position multiple times)

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Yeah, I’ll do this. The power imbalance is kind of weird, and I had no idea till recently when I got a better power meter so that’s probably worth investigating

This may be an obvious point, but my experience with hip/back pain stemmed from weak glutes and general lack of core/hip strength. The legs are certainly vital to power production, but weak hips and core = instability, which is where those pesky compensations arise. If you’re not hyper introspective about your cycling biomechanics, you will fall victim to these compensations, it just is what it is, and why assessing a fit under appropriate load is essential to setting someone up on a bike (i.e., the argument against static measurement).

You say you’re bad about strength training which suggests you probably swap out time in the gym for time on the bike. At the very least, pick up a habit of doing isolation exercises to activate these muscle groups using kettlebells, bands etc. 30min/day every day pre-ride.

Yes, my masseur has got me doing more of these excersises.
The chart that Foodpedaling posted(thanks, very useful info) is exactly me!

BillB, you mention accentuating hip-extension in your pedalstroke.
Can you explain exactly what that is?
I do the pedalling drills that are included in many of the endurance sessions. I find these really help with smooth pedalling ,ability to have a faster cadence, and means the quads don’t get overworked.
I also do the other excersises you mention most days.
It seems as we get older, these imbalances/weaknesses we managed fine when young, seem to hit hard in the 50s 0nwards.

Good questions Lydiagould.
Yes, as we age, sarcopenia accelerates (age-related loss of muscle) and the posterior chain suffers more rapid effects of that thereby creating imbalances vis the quadriceps (vastus lateralis and medialis). You see older folks with flat asses as the glutes wane and attempting to maintain balance your body tightens the posterior muscle groups to maintain balance vis the frontal plane of the lower body and that’s not a good thing.

Knee extension (straightening at the knee i.e. contracting the quads) is easy on the bike but hip-extension (straightening at the hip) is more complicated through the pedal arc. Most cyclists are too quad-dominant and usually that becomes ever more pronounced over time and with masters cyclists the effects of more rapid posterior sarcopenia further impacts things so that some cyclists recruit very little of their posterior muscle chain in their pedal stroke.

The off-bike work is important and it sounds like you are already doing that. Read my posts in this thread above about relative limb lengths (tibia vis femur), foot position and starting the power phase early (11:30). It is difficult to effectively give precise advice without seeing someone on their bike or view multi-angle good quality extensive videos of the rider. However, I will endeavor to answer if you have more specific questions.
Bill Black

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Thankyou Bill,
Yes, we are lucky now to have access so much more knowledge about health and fitness.
My parents generation thought if something hurt you had to rest up in a chair all day​:rofl::scream:

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This. Your story sounds eerily similar to mine. Get an MRI to start with.

I didn’t learn I had FAI until I already had a torn labrum plus sévère osteoarthritis in L hip. (incidentlally, the damage wasn’t apparent until I had a CT scan)

The earlier you intervene with FAI, the better, since once arthritis sets in, the only surgical option is hip replacement.

I was not so lucky and had to get a hip replacement at age 49, in Jan 2021.

The good news, the hip replacement not only fixed my hip pain while riding, but my back pain went away with it!

BTW, slowly learning to lift heavy had made my back pain completely disappear in 2019 & early 2020. Then covid closed the gyms, I has a tiny fall, and back pain returned, this time taking hip along for the ride.