After my 2 spinal fusion operations of my L5-S1 vertebrae I was seriously lacking core stability, an overcompensated right leg and a very weak and skinny left leg, and not much glute or hip strength! I started using Powercranks mainly to rehabilitate myself before doing any serious training.
In November and December I had a bit of difficulty getting used to Powercranks. This took a bit longer than usual but it was to be expected after the work I had to do initially to rebuild myself post surgery. I was doing 20-30 minute rides on the rollers to start off with. It was hard (to say the least!) trying to keep both legs pedalling for long periods of time so I had to use a range of different techniques to complete longer rides. These included pedalling with one leg for a few rpm’s, then the other for the same amount of rpm (in and out of the saddle). To help with my core that little bit extra I would do some 2 minute drills in a big ish gear (53×13-16) with both pedals going around at the same time. Towards the end of December I was able to do 50-60 minute rides on the rollers.
Going into January I was able to get out on the road to do some rides. These started off at 30 minutes partly due to the weather, but increased to 2 hours by mid March. This period was mainly the same as my roller riding, basically just getting used to riding, ensuring the muscle balance, and mostly getting used to riding outdoors. It was a major step up riding up hills, riding into headwinds from riding indoors. By March I was fairly confident in myself that I had recreated the balance in my legs muscles and also built up my core strength and hip flexors to enable me to do longer rides and more specific efforts.
Going into the later part of March I was able to do rides consistent of 1hr45 to 2hrs30. Many of these included doing sprint drills, one leg drills, hill efforts and tempo drills.
Along the way I learned more about Powercranks other benefits that I would not have expected beforehand. I have no doubt that my strength has increased from using the Powercranks. My pedalling overall is very efficient, especially on climbs where I now also have the combination of efficiency and strength that I did not have before. This was a good base for getting back into racing and longer training rides.
My first 2 races back were 50km handicap races. The first race was to test the waters after not racing for 2 and a half years. I have no idea where I finished but it was very near last. In the second race I was able to do turns on the front and be there in the final for a 5th place after leading the sprint out. A few days after that I did my first big road race which was the Welsh Road race champs. It was 130km completed in 3 hours, and I ended up finishing 9th! I was just hoping to finish… It was a lot easier for me to complete the harder and longer rides after coming off Powercranks; my legs were much stronger to be able to cope with the stresses of racing, and my breathing and heart rate was lower than it previously was. I have also noticed a huge improvement in my walking.
The most significant improvement is hip flexors and my left hamstring muscles which were previously non-existent on my left side. The one thing that did surprise me was my flexibility. Using the Powercranks combined with my home stretching and core stability routine, Powercranks have helped my flexibility to no end, which I did not expect. For someone who has had 2 spinal fusion operations, I should not be able to fit my head between my knees whilst being able to plant my hands flat on the floor! Once I have completed my racing season in 2010 I will be using my Powercranks to start off my winter training, and to do harder efforts and rides until the racing season starts in 2011.
I recommend Powercranks to anyone. Whether it be for rehabilitation purposes or for improving your cycling, running or walking. They are by far the best piece of cycling equipment I have ever purchased!