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Saturday, February 14, 2009

New technology

In the past year I have invested in some new technology for bike fitting.  It is the Retul System from the guys in Boulder.  This is the same system you have seen on and showing fittings of various athletes (like Christian VandeVelde, Tim DeBoom, and Craig Alexander among others).

Prior to this I had been doing very comprehensive (they really resembled physical therapy evaluations quite a lot) bike fittings, but the Retul system added a very important aspect:  objective measurement.

You see, when you evaluate movement in a dozen people a day (or more) for 10+ years you get really good at picking out asymetries.  (I was told in PT school that it would take about 4 years to REALLY begin to know what you were doing and what you were looking at - and they were right - but more on that later)  I can't help it anymore, it is second nature to me, like it is to many therapists, that I watch everyone walk and I evaluate their gait.  It's like a reflex now.  I'll be riding down Main Street and, there is a lady with a weak hip abductor, there's a teenage girl with hypermobile knee joints; that guys left hip flexor is too tight -- you get the idea.

With the Retul, I can take all those things I can *see* - like a knee doing a small figure-8, a mid-foot pronating,a shoulder elevating, a hip dropping or just sitting too far forward - and it quantifies them for me.  It tells me *how much* for just about every measurement I could ever want or need.  This really takes the guess-work out of deciding how much to correct (how many cleat shims, how much to raise/lower the seat, and more importantly, how much the client needs to do [read as exercises] to help themselves to continue to fit their bike.)

The best part of the system (for me) besides the fact it is so accurate, is that it does nothing to tell you how to fix the problem.  To do this would be an attempt at turning the whole process formulaic.  Yuck!  Especially to a physical therapist, *formulaic* is a dirty word.  I firmly believe that individuals are just that...individuals, and what may be acceptable for one person may be completely inappropriate for another, and vice versa.  I realize that many people doing bike fits do not feel the same way - something to tell them what to do is exactly what they are looking for and what they would invest in.  This tells me that they don't know what they are doing and/or do not have the background to make sound decisions on an individual basis.

Rest assured, you will hear more and more about the Retul system in weeks and months to come.  I will share specific examples and data when I'm able.

Thanks for reading.


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