Shoes and tires are traditionally made of rubber, but I hope you aren’t sleeping on a rubber mattress. Shoes and mattresses often boast highly specialized foam, however foam tires wouldn’t be that durable. No, today’s blog isn’t about the makeup of these three different items, but rather how we use them. We often, daily I argue, trust these items to support our body while at rest and in motion. You wake up well rested (hopefully) after sleeping on a mattress for 8 hours (hopefully). Last thing you do before going out the door for the day? Put on shoes to protect your feet from the elements. Going somewhere in a vehicle? Tires are the only thing that connects you to the ground. Unless you live a highly specialized life, chances are you are actively using each of these items more often than you give them credit for.
So what's the big deal? You most likely could get away with avoiding taking a second look at any of these items for years at a time. You would be rolling the dice with some potentially disastrous consequences. With winter fast approaching, car tires often get a little more attention than mattresses and shoes due to the hazardous conditions. The danger of bald, ineffective tires is apparent. Today we are going to take a look at why you should be giving tires, mattresses, and shoes a little more thought.
Today we will be focusing on bike tires (surprise). You have choices between clincher, tubular, tubeless, tubes, presta, schrader.. the options are endless. Each brand boasts “proprietary rubber blends” for maximum traction and decreased rolling resistance. Reading through clever marketing to determine what you need can be quite daunting. When picking tires it's important to keep the following in mind: quality, use, and wear.
With the consumable nature of tires, it can be tempting to save a couple of dollars and get discount or even used tires. I urge you to reconsider! On triathlon bikes, there are only a few square inches of ground contact between your bike and the road you are racing on. This small area of rubber has a lot of work to do to maintain traction, be sure you are picking quality tires for the surface you will be riding on. Pre-riding a course and doing your research on conditions is vital. Is there any gravel? Will it be raining or extremely dry? Is the course full of potholes and small rocks? All things to consider when planning your race setup. If you need new tires or have questions about tire choice, our friends at ROAM bike shop can help!
So you’ve picked the right tires and now you’ve been racing for a season or two. It's important to occasionally check your tires for signs of wear. While cleaning, before an important race, and at the beginning and end of the season are times you should be inspecting your gear a little closer. Here are some signs your tires might need to be replaced.
When to replace:
Your tread edges are noticeably worn down and you’re getting a lot of flats
Your bike’s handling has gotten noticeably worse
Your tire tread appears rounded or uneven
You notice a thread pattern (hashtags) on the sidewall of the tire
Rubber is beginning to crack or flake off of the knobs or sidewalls
You notice a distortion in the tire (caused by a damaged casing underneath the outer wall)
You notice the siping—tiny slits in tires that help their grip on wet surfaces—is disappearing
You notice a lot of small cuts that may (or do) contain slivers of glass—those can work their way inside the tire and cause flats
Your wear indicators—typically one or two small dimples—are disappearing (not all tires have wear indicators)
Check out REI’s tire guide for more tips!
If you missed Coach Ethan’s clinic on nailing your off-season, sleep was a heavy focus on training to your best. Proper sleep hygiene can have a huge payoff on the effectiveness of your training. Sleep is the catalyst for recovery, it can decrease the risk of injury, and has a slew of other benefits as well!
When looking at the effects of sleep on performance, one study found male and female swimmers who extended their sleep to 10 hours per night saw a decrease in reaction times off diving blocks and in their time swimming a 15-meter sprint. These athletes also experienced improved mood and decreased daytime sleepiness and fatigue. When looking at the effects of sleep on strength and power, another study of judo athletes showed that sleep deprivation at the end of the sleeping time (i.e., early morning) decreased power and muscle strength the following day. Research has also shown sleep deprivation effects include decreased time to exhaustion. It’s clear that if you are looking for an increase in performance, sleep is not the place to cut corners.
One big factor in sleep is the surface you are sleeping on! Sleep experts recommend replacing your mattress every 6-10 years. Signs such as difficulties sleeping, waking up sore and fatigued (not from training!), or having an increase in allergies (we shed about a pound of skin each year), could tell you it’s time to replace your mattress.
Generally, physical activity should work with your sleep, increasing the quality of those Z’s. If you are looking for higher levels of performance, you should be getting more sleep than those who have lower activity levels. If you find yourself having difficulties sleeping, it could be one sign of overtraining. Consult with your coach if you have concerns!
Chances are, if you are running you already pay more attention to your shoes than a majority of the population–for good reason! Your body experiences a force up to 250% of your body weight in each leg while running. If your shoes aren’t supporting your body correctly, you could be having major breakdowns higher along the kinetic chain. This could include breakdowns in posture, increased risks of injury, and even chronic acute pain.
By age 40, nearly everyone has or has experienced a biomechanical foot condition of some sort. Any imbalances in the feet can lead to knee rotation, pelvic tilt and shoulder drop. These imbalances in the body can be caused by pronation and supination of the foot. Higher levels of pronation lead to an increase in knee pain, which can become chronic and lead to injuries and conditions such as plantar fasciitis, hip pain, back pain, and neck pain. Devices such as custom orthotics, which are inserted into your shoes can help, but it is also important to select quality shoes and correct any muscular imbalances.
With the new shoes coming out trending towards maximalist, ultra-cushioned shoes, it’s important to ask yourself if that is right for you. A study of cushioned, maximalist shoes showed that they caused a higher rate of peak loading and impact forces while the foot was striking the ground. The big, soft shoes prevent the foot from functioning as it should (like a spring), and instead turn it into a shock absorber. Joints and tissues end up doing the job of the achilles tendon, which can lead to injury. These shoes have their place and can work for a lot of individuals, but are not for everyone.
When selecting a running shoe (or normal shoes for that matter!), you should consider what function you need it to fill, previous injuries, and your specific loading mechanics. There is no “best shoe” in general for the individual, but you should be picking a shoe that feels comfortable to the foot, has appropriate cushioning, and is designed for your specific activity. Shoe choice is something I discuss during a gait analysis, if you would like help finding your next running shoe, discussing orthotics, or improving your gait, email me for a consultation!
If you have further questions or would like to discuss the topics above, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
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