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While searching the t’interwebs for articles on cycling and back pain, I came across this one in 220 Triathlon magazine

The article suggests that the first port of call for fixing back pain on the bike is to have a bike fit, then to look at how you’re riding it, then whether your core is weak, then your hamstring/hip flexor tightness.

It’s a great example of how the industry prioritises issues outside of training, and of the symptom based, stiffness building, standard industry approach to injury management.

The priority for most athletes and coaches, is the demands of their sport.

They focus on distance, speed, power output, equipment and all the technology they can muster to monitor all of that.

The trouble is, in order to produce speed, distance, power etc, you need a fully functioning body.

One little issue with your back, for example, and you can’t produce any of those things. Then it doesn’t matter how fancy your bike is, or which GPS watch you’re sporting.

Focusing on the intricacies of the sport first and foremost is what I call “top down” thinking.

It’s the very top section of my SMARTT™ Performance Pyramid, and it’s the icing on the performance cake.

Triathletes who focus all their efforts here will break.

Then they’ll start searching for ways to stave off injury. That’s when issues like mobility and strength training come in.

But for me that’s like tumbling down the pyramid and hoping you’ll find a way to climb back to the top (which people rarely do for very long)

It reminds me of the children’s song “The wise man built his house upon a rock“.

If the foolish man built his house upon the sand, then the foolish triathlete builds his/her performance primarily on the requirements of his/her sport.

If the wise man built his house upon the rock, then the SMARTT™ triathlete builds his/her performance primarily on the needs of his/her body, with the requirements of the sport sprinkled on top.

It might sound like a crazy way to go about it – surely if you want to get better at cycling, you need to just cycle?

But when you make sure your nutrition is right, there’s no inflammation in your body, which limits how well your joints move. Then if you focus on improving how well your joints can move in any direction, without restriction, your technique improves. Then if you layer on top of that the ability to transition from any one move to another smoothly, without restriction, getting on and off the bike and into/out of your wetsuit becomes easier (and quicker).

If you follow that up with the resilience in the joints to cope with any movement in any position under load, the awkward landing getting off your bike, or pulling yourself out of the water onto a jetty full of people becomes much easier.

Then you layer on the ability to keep moving without strain or fatigue for longer than your competitors and all of a sudden, you’re out ahead of the pack, pulling away from them on the hills, while they’re all straining for every inch of their performance.

Now you can worry about what bike you have, how well it fits and what gear you might be in – because the foundation you’ve built by working on the rest of it means that your body can cope with the stresses of the sport, with much less risk of injury.

Working from the bottom of the pyramid, up, doesn’t sound so crazy now does it?

The majority of gradual onset joint or muscle pain is caused by movement restriction.

Back pain is one of the most common, and a big problem for cyclists and triathletes, but it’s a really simple issue to fix.

Give these 5 FREE Videos a try in my Lower Back Pain Solution Video Playlist to see how increasing the mobility of your hip joint can reduce your back pain – or prevent it from happening if you haven’t got it already.

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