The accuracy of commercial instrumented crank systems for symmetry assessment in cycling has not been fully explored. Therefore, the authors’ aims were to compare peak crank torque between a commercial instrumented crank system and instrumented pedals and to assess the effect of power output on bilateral asymmetries during cycling. Ten competitive cyclists performed an incremental cycling test to exhaustion. Forces and pedal angles were recorded using right and left instrumented pedals synchronized with crank-torque measurements using an instrumented crank system. Differences in right (dominant) and left (nondominant) peak torque and asymmetry index were assessed using effect sizes. In the 100- to 250-W power-output range, the instrumented pedal system recorded larger peak torque (dominant 55–122%, nondominant 23–99%) than the instrumented crank system. There was an increase in differences between dominant and nondominant crank torque as power output increased using the instrumented crank system (7% to 33%) and the instrumented pedals (9% to 66%). Lower-limb asymmetries in peak torque increased at higher power-output levels in favor of the dominant leg. Limitations in design of the instrumented crank system may preclude the use of this system to assess peak crank-torque symmetry.
Rodrigo R. Bini and Patria A. Hume
Rodrigo R. Bini, Aline C. Tamborindeguy and Carlos B. Mota
It is not clear how noncyclists control joint power and kinematics in different mechanical setups (saddle height, workload, and pedaling cadence). Joint mechanical work contribution and kinematics analysis could improve our comprehension of the coordinative pattern of noncyclists and provide evidence for bicycle setup to prevent injury.
To compare joint mechanical work distribution and kinematics at different saddle heights, workloads, and pedaling cadences.
Quantitative experimental research based on repeated measures.
9 healthy male participants 22 to 36 years old without competitive cycling experience.
Cycling on an ergometer in the following setups: 3 saddle heights (reference, 100% of trochanteric height; high, + 3 cm; and low, − 3 cm), 2 pedaling cadences (40 and 70 rpm), and 3 workloads (0, 5, and 10 N of braking force).
Main Outcome Measures:
Joint kinematics, joint mechanical work, and mechanical work contribution of the joints.
There was an increased contribution of the ankle joint (P = .04) to the total mechanical work with increasing saddle height (from low to high) and pedaling cadence (from 40 to 70 rpm, P < .01). Knee work contribution increased when saddle height was changed from high to low (P < .01). Ankle-, knee-, and hip-joint kinematics were affected by saddle height changes (P < .01).
At the high saddle position it could be inferred that the ankle joint compensated for the reduced knee-joint work contribution, which was probably effective for minimizing soft-tissue damage in the knee joint (eg, anterior cruciate ligament and patellofemoral cartilage). The increase in ankle work contribution and changes in joint kinematics associated with changes in pedaling cadence have been suggested to indicate poor pedaling-movement skill.
Rodrigo R. Bini, Tiago C. Jacques and Marco A. Vaz
Unassisted single-leg cycling should be replaced by assisted single-leg cycling, given that this last approach has potential to mimic joint kinetics and kinematics from double-leg cycling. However, there is need to test if assisting devices during pedaling effectively replicate joint forces and torque from double-leg cycling.
To compare double-leg, single-leg assisted, and unassisted cycling in terms of lower-limb kinetics and kinematics.
14 healthy nonathletes.
Two double-leg cycling trials (240 ± 23 W) and 2 single-leg trials (120 ± 11 W) at 90 rpm were performed for 2 min using a bicycle attached to a cycle trainer. Measurements of pedal force and joint kinematics of participants’ right lower limb were performed during double- and single-leg trials. For the single-leg assisted trial, a custom-made adaptor was used to attach 10 kg of weight to the contralateral crank.
Main Outcome Measures:
Peak hip, knee, and ankle torques (flexors and extensors) along with knee-flexion angle and peak patellofemoral compressive force.
Reduced peak hip-extensor torque (10%) and increased peak knee-flexor torque (157%) were observed at the single-leg assisted cycling compared with the double-leg cycling. No differences were found for peak patellofemoral compressive force or knee-flexion angle comparing double-leg with single-leg assisted cycling. However, single-leg unassisted cycling resulted in larger peak patellofemoral compressive force (28%) and lower knee-flexion angle (3%) than double-leg cycling.
These results suggest that although single-leg assisted cycling differs for joint torques, it replicates knee loads from double-leg cycling.
Fábio J. Lanferdini, Rodrigo R. Bini, Bruno M. Baroni, Kelli D. Klein, Felipe P. Carpes and Marco A. Vaz
Evidence indicates that low-level laser therapy (LLLT) minimizes fatigue effects on muscle performance. However, the ideal LLLT dosage to improve athletes’performance during sports activities such as cycling is still unclear. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate the effects of different LLLT dosages on cyclists’performance in time-to-exhaustion tests. In addition, the effects of LLLT on the frequency content of the EMG signals to assess fatigue mechanisms were examined. Twenty male competitive cyclists participated in a crossover, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. They performed an incremental cycling test to exhaustion (on day 1) followed by 4 time-to-exhaustion tests (on days 2–5) at their individual maximal power output. Before each time-to-exhaustion test, different dosages of LLLT (135, 270, and 405 J/thigh, respectively) or placebo were applied at the quadriceps muscle bilaterally. Power output and muscle activation from both lower limbs were recorded throughout the tests. Increased performance in time-to-exhaustion tests was observed with the LLLT-135 J (∼22 s; P < .01), LLLT-270 J (∼13 s; P = .03), and LLLT-405 J (∼13 s; P = .02) compared to placebo (149 ± 23 s). Although LLLT-270 J and LLLT-405 J did not show significant differences in muscle activation compared with placebo, LLLT-135 J led to an increased high-frequency content compared with placebo in both limbs at the end of the exhaustion test (P ≤ .03). In conclusion, LLLT increased time to exhaustion in competitive cyclists, suggesting this intervention as a possible nonpharmacological ergogenic agent in cycling. Among the different dosages, LLLT-135 J seems to promote the best effects.
Fábio J. Lanferdini, Rodrigo R. Bini, Pedro Figueiredo, Fernando Diefenthaeler, Carlos B. Mota, Anton Arndt and Marco A. Vaz
To employ cluster analysis to assess if cyclists would opt for different strategies in terms of neuromuscular patterns when pedaling at the power output of their second ventilatory threshold (POVT2) compared with cycling at their maximal power output (POMAX).
Twenty athletes performed an incremental cycling test to determine their power output (POMAX and POVT2; first session), and pedal forces, muscle activation, muscle–tendon unit length, and vastus lateralis architecture (fascicle length, pennation angle, and muscle thickness) were recorded (second session) in POMAX and POVT2. Athletes were assigned to 2 clusters based on the behavior of outcome variables at POVT2 and POMAX using cluster analysis.
Clusters 1 (n = 14) and 2 (n = 6) showed similar power output and oxygen uptake. Cluster 1 presented larger increases in pedal force and knee power than cluster 2, without differences for the index of effectiveness. Cluster 1 presented less variation in knee angle, muscle–tendon unit length, pennation angle, and tendon length than cluster 2. However, clusters 1 and 2 showed similar muscle thickness, fascicle length, and muscle activation. When cycling at POVT2 vs POMAX, cyclists could opt for keeping a constant knee power and pedal-force production, associated with an increase in tendon excursion and a constant fascicle length.
Increases in power output lead to greater variations in knee angle, muscle–tendon unit length, tendon length, and pennation angle of vastus lateralis for a similar knee-extensor activation and smaller pedal-force changes in cyclists from cluster 2 than in cluster 1.