You don't need to be defined by an injury.
Sometimes, an injury can be used as a jumping point to make your fit even better.

Chapter 6 in the Injury/Recovery Series

It's rare when an injury sustained on or off the bike does not impact a cyclist in one way or another. Most often, riders are affected in varying degrees of severity, from a simple nagging pain to a more severe trauma that may even force one off the bike.

In James Miller case, the injury was a severe spine injury that required fusing a number of vertebrae in his upper back.

The life-saving operation created a permanent curvature in his upper back, near and below the scapulae.

This structural intervention has permanently changed his posture and affected James not only on the bike, but also in other aspects of his life.

"The pain is there, always. It's manageable. Some days I can tolerate it better than others, but I refuse to let it affect my riding."

We worked with James before and helped him return safely and effectively to road cycling. 

"I sought bike fitting from A Perfect Bike Fit to help me come back to my bicycle. I wanted to be able to ride in the most comfort given my situation. I also wanted to go back to my old form and keep up with the fast guys without tearing myself apart."

Here is the case study we posted at the time on how we resolved his situation.

The challenge was to achieve a biomechanically neutral position while protecting the back. That was a tall order: we had to embrace the fixed curvature in his back without letting it affect other aspects of his relationship with the bike.

Maintaining biomechanical neutrality in key body segments was important to protect him from the potential of repetitive use injuries that may arise from compensation due to the spinal curvature. A Fit For Injuries protocol was followed in order to achieve this delicate balance.

We were successful and James has been racking up the miles, regaining his fitness and speed.

Two years later, he has come back to us with a new challenge: a Time Trial bike.

But this time, the situation is different. What if we could turn the spinal curvature into an asset? What if we could actually make it the jumping point for achieving a superior aerodynamic position?

The hip angle is measured while in motion by the Retül 3D motion system (the wires and round black sensors on the body). Here we see a visual representation: the angle between the two yellow lines is the hip angle in the "open" position. The fixed spinal curvature is also highlighted in red.

That's exactly what we did. Thanks to our background in engineering and aerodynamics, we hatched a plan to use the fixed spinal curvature as the strong point of the bike fit.

Of course, all the other ingredients of the Time Trial bike fit protocol (which is different from Triathlon) and Fit For Injuries where part of the mix. But now, we had a strength to work with as compared to a limitation - and the sky was the only limit in James' Time Trial bike fit.

Knowing a few secrets of the true behavior of the aerodynamics of a Time Trial cyclist and the key to the correct spinal alignment to achieve the maximum aerodynamic benefit and biomechanical alignment, we set out to give James the best power to aero ratio.

A key component was the hip angle. The hip angle is directly related to power output and also to the pressure on critical muscle groups, such as the upper gluteus, the hip flexors and the all-important ilio-psoas and psoas (AKA the back muscles). These muscle groups can put tremendous pressure on the upper back when the hip angle is too closed.

The catch is that the hip angle becomes more and more closed as the body is rotated into a more aggressive aero tuck. The power also drops exponentially as the hip angle becomes smaller.

We worked with Jimmie in finding the ideal compromise point, at which aero is maximized in balance with power generation and muscular back-pressure transfer - while protecting the spinal curve imposed by the fusing of the vertebrae.


Here we see the final position we achieved for James while doing the aero integration testing with a Limar TT helmet.

We employed many of our tricks of the Aero fit trade: specific muscle group engagement and optimization, weight load shift to osteo groups and aerodynamic maximization.

All the while, we protected the back - making its curvature the strong point of the aerodynamics of this bike fit.

Admittedly, this is a rather unusual situation. It's not every day that we encounter situations so severe. Luck had it that we could turn it into as asset for James, something good.

For some riders, injuries are going to be the limiting factor with which we have to work. But the goal remains the same: make you the best you with what you've got.

And for that, we are happy we can be here for all our customers.

"You don't have to be a Pro to get a bike fit. Everyone who climbs into a bike deserves to have a great experience, regardless of their fitness, expertise or equipment level."

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