Athletic injury is the ultimate egalitarian. A tweaked this or a torn that can happen to anyone, from the best pros all the way down. The only difference, most of the time, is a rider’s access to preventative and recuperative care — the pros tend to get taken care of while we, the huddled and much slower masses, are too often left to fend for ourselves.
It was this disparity that Brett Lancaster, Orica-GreenEdge’s prologue specialist and wind-crushing domestique, and his long-time physical therapist Cher Hetherington set out to solve. The duo’s new smartphone app aims to take Hetherington’s particular brand of therapy, myotherapy, and distill it down into exercises that can be performed by everyday riders to keep themselves injury free, or to recover from injury.
The app, available in the Apple store for $2.99, opens with a profile shot of Lancaster on his bike. Common problem areas for cyclists — the neck and shoulders, arms, lower back, butt, thighs, and lower leg — are all selectable from the home screen. Once an area is selected, a second screen allows for a more precise selection, allowing the user to pinpoint the exact location of his or her pain.
Let’s say, for the sake of this example, that a rider is having trouble with the side of one knee. After selecting the knee section and then pinpointing the problem at the knee (rather than the ankle or shin, two other options), he is taken to a page describing the source of his pain.
The vastus lateralis is his problem, the app says. “Pain from the vastus lateralis will refer down the lateral thigh and the lateral aspect of the knee. Contracture in this muscle can cause a feeling of ‘loss of power’ when cycling.”
Perfect, sounds exactly like what our theoretical cyclist is experiencing. Now what?
The app offers two options to our rider: Pain Relief and Pain Prevention. He’d like both, we think, but we’ll start with the former. His knee hurts right now.
Upon selecting Pain Relief, a page opens with a specific stretch, with step-by-step instructions, designed to relieve the pain. If we go back one page and select Pain Prevention, a new screen shows step-by-step instructions for an exercise that should help keep the pain from coming back.
That process — selecting a problem area, narrowing it down to a specific location, getting a relief exercise and a prevention exercise — is repeated throughout the app across 11 different problem areas. It includes 22 different exercises.
The whole system is incredibly simple and we have to assume, given the qualifications of the people behind it, likely effective. It’s not going to solve every pain issue — the bottom of each page recognizes this, reminding users to seek medical attention if pain persists — but it does provide solid exercises for quite a few common problems.
Those exercises are easy to access, easy to understand, and easy to perform. Each one has step-by-step instructions as well as multiple photos of Lancaster performing the exercise. For $2.99, it is at the very least a good place to start.
There are other injury prevention and reduction apps out there, but this is the first one we’ve found that’s dedicated to the specific problems cyclists face. If you have other suggestions, sound off in the comments.