Ankling



rkohler

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Sep 11, 2003
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Ankling - some people do it and some people don't. I've seen some coaches and studies that say it works (i.e. more efficient, better for injury prevention and whatnot), but then others say it's not more efficient than pedaling with a fixed foot position, toes down, or heels down (or any other way you can pedal).

Anyone know of new research that's been done with this, or have some new ideas on it?

Thanks!
 

rkohler

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Sep 11, 2003
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Originally posted by Aztec
I'm not even sure what it is, but I've been told I do it!

Hopefully I'll get corrected if I'm wrong, but I think it's a style of pedaling where your toes are pointed down at the top of the pedal stroke and then pointed up at the bottom of the stroke. So throughout the pedal revolution, your ankle goes from plantar flexion to dorsiflexion and back again.

I've read some articles that say it's more efficient and safer, and then others that say it's not. I wonder if there's much research out there on it. Have you tried it at all? Well, guess not if you're not sure what it is, huh? lol.
 

Squint

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Jul 27, 2003
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Learn to ride with no hands and then use your arms to assist your pedaling by pushing down on your knees.

This works best if you do massive amounts of weightlifting during the winter and don't ride at all.
 

rkohler

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Sep 11, 2003
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Originally posted by Squint
Learn to ride with no hands and then use your arms to assist your pedaling by pushing down on your knees.

This works best if you do massive amounts of weightlifting during the winter and don't ride at all.

Riiiiiiight. :rolleyes:
 

Aztec

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Jul 8, 2003
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Um, OK by that description (the serious one), I don't ankle. My toes aren't pointing up at the bottom. Only when I'm back in saddle on a tough climb, and only when kind of looking for a way to take the heat off my quads (by doing that scraping mud off your shoe spin).
 

rkohler

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Sep 11, 2003
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Originally posted by Aztec
Um, OK by that description (the serious one), I don't ankle. My toes aren't pointing up at the bottom. Only when I'm back in saddle on a tough climb, and only when kind of looking for a way to take the heat off my quads (by doing that scraping mud off your shoe spin).

Gotcha. So do you have any idea as to how you would ankle if you were going to do it? Maybe someone else can chime in too and let us know how to do it properly.
Thanks!
 

rkohler

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Sep 11, 2003
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Originally posted by ricstern
I don't think there's any research on 'ankling'... perhaps, ryan could do a pub-med search and report back to us?

ric

not much luck in there...only one article that i could find:

Effect of variation in seat tube angle at different seat heights on submaximal cycling performance in man.
J Sports Sci. 1997 Aug;15(4):395-402.

I don't have access to the full text, but from the abstract it looks like ankling itself wasn'ts specifically investigated. They just found that there was an "improvement in cycling efficiency observed at steeper seat tube angles was produced in part by the resultant altered ankling pattern of the cyclist."

Doesn't look like there's any specific research on it, although I see a lot of web sites and testimonials out on the internet about how it makes you more efficient. Maybe it works. :confused:
 

dhk

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Sep 1, 2003
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Heard a lot more about ankling 25 years ago; seemed to be standard advice then. If I've got it right, it's just pressing your toes down at the bottom of the stroke to get through the dead spot. I do this for seating climbing sometimes, to keep the cadence ticking over when it's starting to lag. Works the calves and save the quads when looking for fresh muscle to recruit.

There is a discussion and chart in Serious Cycling (Burke) which plots the observed ankle angles for seven elite pursuit riders at 100 rpm, 400 W output.

Dan

Dan
 

Grouse

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Aug 21, 2003
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Originally posted by rkohler
Hopefully I'll get corrected if I'm wrong, but I think it's a style of pedaling where your toes are pointed down at the top of the pedal stroke and then pointed up at the bottom of the stroke. So throughout the pedal revolution, your ankle goes from plantar flexion to dorsiflexion and back again.

I'm afraid you got it reversed. It's were your feet are basically flat at the top but you sort of "scrape the mud from you shoes" at the bottom. i.e. toes start pointing down at the bottom.

It works for me, but it takes some time to adpat if your not a natural, so start with short intervals perhaps like 2x5min per training or so and increase it from there. (you might experiende some discomfort in calf and hamstrings at first)

Happy cycling,

Grouse
 

rkohler

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Sep 11, 2003
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Originally posted by Grouse
I'm afraid you got it reversed. It's were your feet are basically flat at the top but you sort of "scrape the mud from you shoes" at the bottom. i.e. toes start pointing down at the bottom.

It works for me, but it takes some time to adpat if your not a natural, so start with short intervals perhaps like 2x5min per training or so and increase it from there. (you might experiende some discomfort in calf and hamstrings at first)

Happy cycling,

Grouse

Thanks Grouse. I was also wondering what exactly the benefits of it would be. There seem to be mixed signals out there where some people still do it today, but then others say that it was done 25 years ago and it's now a thing of the past. Not that I'm planning on doing it, but just for example...why do you do it?
 

Grouse

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Aug 21, 2003
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Originally posted by rkohler
Thanks Grouse. I was also wondering what exactly the benefits of it would be. There seem to be mixed signals out there where some people still do it today, but then others say that it was done 25 years ago and it's now a thing of the past. Not that I'm planning on doing it, but just for example...why do you do it?

First of all because i feel it makes me a little bit faster. Must admit though that when i'm tired after a long ride the ankling doesn't go very automated anymore . Some ppl have it natural, i'm one of those who had to learn it. Secondly I also know some pretty good amateur cyclers(like top level amateurs and soem have been pro for a time) who swear by it.

Grouse
 

msrw

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Sep 13, 2003
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Let's see if I can clarify this a bit.

The rationale of ankling is to use more of the 360 degree pedal radius for moving the bike forward.

When your pedal is in its highest position, ankling allows you to begin pushing down earlier. And ankling allows you to keep pushing a bit longer when the pedal is in the down position.

It works. An easy way to prove it to yourself is to ride on flat ground at constant speed without ankling, then start ankling. Your speed will increase slightly for the same output--maybe 1/2 to 1 mph.

So how to ankle? It's harder to explain than to do; but basically what you do is shove your heel down when your foot is at the top of the pedal stroke. (as opposed to allowing your foot to take a constant arc--which will mean that your heel will be higher than your toes on the downward part of the pedal stroke.
 

msrw

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Sep 13, 2003
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When I say "your heel will be higher than your toes on the downward part of the pedal stroke" above, that is when you are NOT ankling.

When you are ankling, your heel will be about the same heighth as your toe on the downward part of the pedal stroke.
 

andrewbradley

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Dec 10, 2003
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Originally posted by rkohler
Gotcha. So do you have any idea as to how you would ankle if you were going to do it? Maybe someone else can chime in too and let us know how to do it properly.
Thanks!

You can define "ankling" in any way you want, but the style as described in the ancient texts is animated here: http://www.cranklength.info/animation/ankling.htm

Note that the devout anklers were to be found mainly in Anglo Saxonia. In Gaul there is no record of this doctrine.

The technique is thought to have been developed in order to allow a fuller power stroke in a time before cleats and straps. Since the advent of these innovations it affords no advantage in this.

Whether this archaic flap has any relevance to todays racers boils down to a question of whether it is good for the calf to output power or whether calf activity can be relegated to a supporting role - a necessary evil because natural selection has not yet eliminated the unnecessary foot lever.

In most riders styles the calf seems to be used in isometric contraction (or even excentric contraction) and does negligible work, except perhaps for a small flip near BDC.

You could defend traditional ankling in a max power situation since you are involving more muscle mass, and possibly from a fatigue reduction POV (more muscles to spread the work over).

From an aerobic power output point of view the argument is the same as that over Power Cranks - can more muscle work be fuelled when more muscle groups get involved?

I look forward to reading the definitive post on that one.

AFAIK there is no good evidence to support the idea that technique plays a role in cycling performance.

In some circles it is very unfashionable to suggest there is any skill whatsoever to pedalling but coaches still get good milage out of it.

Looking at, say, Ullrich, Armstrong and Pantani you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that anything goes.
 

andrewbradley

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Dec 10, 2003
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Originally posted by dhk


There is a discussion and chart in Serious Cycling (Burke) which plots the observed ankle angles for seven elite pursuit riders at 100 rpm, 400 W output.

Dan

Dan

Interestingly, Ed Burke dismisses traditonal ankling as an attempt by "lay" people to square the biomechanical circle, making some of us miracle men, which is nice.

As for the style he proposes, I doubt if there is any use learning an "average" pedalling style even if it is based on "elite" riders (who probably never worried about their ankles).

What would you get if you perfected the averaged style of Ullrich, Armstrong and Pantani?

A clear point in favor of traditional ankling is that it allows a tighter aerodynamic tuck than any other style.

The LA style looks like an extreme form of the Burke style - he brings his knees up very high at the top of the stroke which makes it difficult to get low like, say, Ullrich.

I also wonder whether some of the top riders could ride as they do without cleats to hold their feet on the pedals.
 

Boomer-61

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Sep 4, 2003
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Originally posted by rkohler
Ankling - some people do it and some people don't. I've seen some coaches and studies that say it works (i.e. more efficient, better for injury prevention and whatnot), but then others say it's not more efficient than pedaling with a fixed foot position, toes down, or heels down (or any other way you can pedal).

Anyone know of new research that's been done with this, or have some new ideas on it?

Thanks!
I recently purchased a power tap hub which measures real time power output in watts. Since then I've tried all types of pedal strokes and the bottom line for me is no one te4chnique is better than another. I think a cyclist needs to find a stroke that works well for them and stick to it. There are so many facets of riding and all are important but I think it really comes down to what works well for the individual in a given set of circumstances. Cycling is a very dynamic sport; to say one technique is superior to another would be very hard to prove and therefore just not true. Try new things, if they work, great, if not then move on.
 

ebrunner

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Aug 2, 2003
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Out of curiosity, what exactly is the Burke style? And what are the different characteristics/styles of Armstrong, Ullrich and Pantani?