Do muscles have memories?
Posted on 18 April 2009 | 9:04am
With a long
journey home ahead of us, a quick blog to pose the above question. It has come
to me many times as I have cycled around the Highlands.
Some of you may
remember that a few weeks ago I took delivery of a wattbike, a tweet on which
prompted a rash of ‘what’s a wattbike?’ responses. I explained that it is a
static bike used by British Cycling for training and the spotting of talent.
great advantage over the kind of bike you get in a gym is that it feels like a
real bike, you can use proper cycling shoes and it has a stack of computer
technology on there which enables you to race against yourself (previous rides)
or others, or over well-known routes.
But the computer
wizardry I use most is a screen which tells you what percentage effort each
side of the body is putting into each pedal stroke. The goal is 50 50. As you
pedal, a shape forms on the screen and the goal is 50 50 with a perfect circle.
I’ve managed to
get 50 50 often enough but never the perfect circle. But in working to make it
happen I have been conscious of moving the power in my legs from muscle to
muscle. Sometimes only the front of the thigh is working. Sometimes the back.
Sometimes the calf. The closest I ever get to the perfect circle is when all
are operating together, which may be more tiring but is more efficient.
When I first got
the wattbike, there was a danger it was becoming my latest addiction. The weather
at home was not so good, I could read a book, pedal away and keep an eye on the
So when we got
up to Argyll, I was glad to get out on the real bike a bit more. And even more
pleased to note I was riding a bit faster, and a bit further, than this time
last year. Not by much, but enough to realise my muscles had learned to operate
in a different way as I cycled along.
So in answer to
my question, yes, muscles do have their own memory system.
Like I said,
short and sweet, and not a hint of politics in sight. Normal service will be
resumed on return.