I would imagine that by now, most of us in North America and the Northern Hemisphere in general, have excitedly gotten out on our bikes to blast some of the “winter cobwebs” from the ol’ body?
You know those first couple of rides? Skills are a little rusty; timing is off; Kidney’s might hurt getting exposed to their first ‘jolting’ of the season; messing around with the suspension settings, yada yada yada!
One thing that I always find during this time of the season is my leg dominance. You see, I had Left medial knee surgery in high school from a football incident, and ever since then, some 30 years, my left leg has been weaker and smaller.
As much as those two things are normal in an injured joint that has had surgery, it can be problematic for us cyclists since our legs are our sources of power… you know, instead of “two horsepower” we may feel like we’re running on “one and a half horsepower.”
To determine if you have a dominance, and it happens to not be very obvious, let me show you a few ways to figure it out.
First is by simply measuring your leg. Take a tape measure and find the middle of your thigh by putting one finger on where the “crease” of your hip is (simply lift your leg off the floor to find the crease), then the other finger on top of your kneecap, and simply touch your fingers together in the middle of your thigh. In the picture below, you’ll see my tights are in the middle of my leg. Do both legs.
Do you have a difference? My left is two centimeters smaller than my right! But, I already knew it was smaller, AND weaker!
Oh, another thing you can look for is loading one side of your body more than the other in say, the squat. If you look at the picture below, you’ll see I’m exaggerating a lean onto my right leg, showing a pattern dominance due to weakness in the left. I encourage you to ALWAYS be looking for this type of pattern dominance, especially in the squat since it’s so obvious, and especially if you’ve had knee or ankle surgery!
SOOO, what to do about it?
All winter season I’ve been doing the “Ultimate Enduro Training” program, but what I’ve also done is to always do more reps on my left side than my right, seeking balance. I’ve also added a few extra exercises for me to do including one really important one, the Single Leg Squat.
This is a great exercise to really challenge the stability, mobility, balance and coordination of that weaker leg. Just be sure to drop the butt back and not let the knee go over the toes and make sure, also, that the middle of the kneecap tracks over the outer three toes of the foot.
Although we have this in “Program 3- Strength” of the Ultimate Enduro Training program, I recommend doing it separately to the tune of 8-20 extra reps, and maybe even add an extra full set or two on the weaker leg.
In a few weeks, not only will you notice a difference in growth compared to the stronger side, but it will also be stronger on and off the bike. Yippee!
So give it a try and if we can help in anyway, just shoot us an email, and please “like us” on Facebook and make good comments!