cycling · fitness

New research on injuries in women cyclists: a step toward better healthcare for women in sports

For decades, women were largely ignored in research studies about sports injuries. Most treatment recommendations were based on extrapolations from work done on male populations. Times are a-changing, though. Last week, a new research article called “Unique concerns of the woman cyclist” came out, addressing particular types of cycling-specific injuries and conditions, with recommendations on identification, treatment, and… wait for it… prevention, too!

Yay! in white letters on an orange background

Full disclosure: Rozanne Puleo, the lead author on the article, is a friend of mine. Yeah, it’s a small world, which I definitely like. In addition to being a nurse practitioner working in sports medicine, Roz is a long-time road and mountain bike cyclist and racer.

One more note on the use of the word “female” in the article: the authors point out that the words used (women/female) don’t accurate represent the population of cyclists who don’t identify as cisgender males. They note that, in one study on women’s and gender-diverse participation in the cycling community, respondents in a questionnaire reported 12 different gender identities in addition to cisgender woman. They point readers to their bibliography for details on the study populations used.

On to the article. Here’s what Puleo and her coauthors had to say– as usual, I’ll start with a list, this one of the key points in the article:

  • Anatomical differences between male and female cyclist in cycling-specific areas (head, breast, hip/knee, upper extremities, and perineal area) may change the incidence, presentation and treatment of cycling specific injuries.
  • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries in female cyclist may present differently, both at time of injury and as time progresses.
  • Bicycle design specific for women is controversial; optimizing the bike fit to the rider is of greater value for injury reduction, comfort and safety (CAW: huzzah to this)
  • Saddle design and choice can influence the overall health of the cyclist.
  • Pelvic pain in female cyclists can have many different presentations (CAW: you got that right).

Puleo and her coauthors cover the research on cycling-related injuries literally from head to toe, addressing issues including breast injury, bone health, and pelvic pain. What sets this article apart for me, though, is two things:

  • It identifies bike fit, saddle selection, and vulvar care as so important for female cyclists.
  • It educates health care providers on the importance of addressing these issues.

For instance, they provide a table with treatment categories and strategies for dealing with pelvic pain. This is a very good thing.

This article is definitely among the things that make me say yay!
This article is definitely among the things that make me say yay!

If you’re a cyclist, definitely read this article. Again, the link is here.

I’m psyched that articles are coming out that address injuries and issues with those injuries specific to women, and also pleased at the identification of a variety of ways to address them. We need more of this.

Hey, readers: do these sorts of articles help you in your physical activities? Do you have a favorite one? Did you read this and have something to add? I’d love to hear from you.


Top Ten Posts, October 2021, #ICYMI

Pumpkins and gourds on a wooden table. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
fitness · link round up

Fit is a Feminist Issue Friday Link Round Up, #108: Women, Sports, and Injustice

  1. I want to run farther’: 8-year-old wants boys and girls to run the same race length

“People don’t know that girls can run the same distance as boys,” says Morris when asked why she thinks there is a discrepancy between the distances.

Now, Morris and her mother Kristin Pardy-Morris are asking School Sports NL to change those rules so that boys and girls of the same age are running the same distances in competitions.”

See Martha Muzychka’s And why is that? Questioning old assumptions about girls and sports

and this blog’s post from 2015 (!) Why do girls run shorter distances than boys in cross country?.

2. Basketball trailblazer denied Canadian permanent residency, must return to U.S

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the trailblazing basketball player who set up an academy for girls and coached multiple sports at an Islamic school in London, Ont., has been denied permanent residency in Canada and will have to go back to the United States. 

3. Afghan Women Will Be Banned From Playing Sports, A Taliban Official Says

“The newly installed Taliban regime will forbid Afghan women from playing cricket and other sports where their bodies might be seen, a senior official told Australian public broadcaster SBS.

“I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,” said Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, according to a translation by SBS.

Afghanistan has a national women’s cricket team — but its status has been thrown into question along with every other woman in the country after the Taliban ousted the U.S.-backed government. Female athletes who once aspired to competing at the international level have resorted to hiding or attempting to flee the country.”

And some good news,

4. Kansas City to get 1st stadium in U.S. for women’s sports

“The owners of Kansas City’s professional women’s soccer team announced Tuesday they plan to build a $70 million US stadium for the team.

The stadium for Kansas City NWSL will be the first built in the United States specifically for a women’s soccer team.”

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

Spooky Time is Here! Run Away!

I love October. In my area of the world it usually means cooler days, colder nights and the opportunity to get cozy. It means I crack out my Halloween decorations, which are way more important than my x-mass decorations. Of course, I’m Jewish (a bit of a Jew-witch), so that makes sense. I’ve noticed it is also the time I contemplate running again.

Oh running, how I loathe thee. No wait, that isn’t quite true. Running is always calling to me. It has so many advantages. Put on your shoes and run out the door. It is a marvellous aerobic bang for the buck. It will make me sweat. But is exactly that intensity that makes it problematic for me. I have little heat tolerance in my peri-menopausal years. In the summer, if it’s above 23 degrees Celsius or so, I am unable to tolerate the combination heat on the outside and heat generated on the inside. Biking has a built in breeze. I am a sloooooow runner so there is no way I can expel my heat other than sweating like a pig and panting like a dog (do pigs sweat? OMG they don’t, but you understand my meaning). I never have a thought on July 23rd of “Hey, you know what would be good right now? A good old sweaty panty run!

But in October? That is different. The air won’t trap my heat inside me, cooking me like a Thanksgiving Turkey. The sun shines through the changing leaves and the air is crisp. I start to think about my aerobic health, which, according to the data sucking device on my wrist, is still really excellent but it’s just barely excellent and it used to be more excellent. I want it to be more excellent and maybe I especially think about that as the veil thins and death is in the air.

Like many of my colleagues here, the first step is examining the gear. My shoes were about 5 years old and although they weren’t over used, they did train and run a half marathon with me, so I thought perhaps they needed to retire. I looked for a pair of shoes that were the most supportive, cushioned, protective that I could find. I determined that I was no longer interested in speed. I was interested in being able too do this and not hurt myself as I had so many times before. I am such a weirdly competitive non-competitive person. With the slightest encouragement, I overdo it and then I’m out of commission. That is another reason why I’m looking at my feet in my new shoes, I ruined my shoulder last January doing too many Chatarangas with Adriene. I still don’t know what is going on with it. Very sad.

So here I am. The maiden run was yesterday. . .1.3km. Not even a mile. I went to the park and ran around the path twice. I let my dog off leash there so she didn’t have to keep up with me if she didn’t want to. I mean, she is 80 dog years old so she can do what she wants. I am not broken. I did not run today and I might run tomorrow. I am trying not to have expectations. I like my shoes.

Meanwhile, my little orange spooky tree is spooking. My little black cat is looking decorative. My electric fireplace is on. I’m enjoying my Hygge. Happy Halloween and spook on 🎃.

A spindly, sparkly black barren tree with orange LED lights, decorated with a purple sparkly owl and some little black birds

Why do girls run shorter distances than boys in cross country? (#reblog #TBT #ThrowBackThursday)

There are issues that you think, as a feminist, might just go away. Because they seem so ridiculous, outdated. Like, how could that still be a thing? One of them for me is the different distances in which men and women, boys and girls, compete. FOR NO GOOD REASON. I’m reblogging this post from 2015 because it’s still happening and it’s in the news again. See “‘I want to run farther’: 8-year-old wants boys and girls to run the same race length” on CBC news. The story is about Isla Morris, a runner. Here’s an excerpt: “At eight years old, she was taking part in the Participation Nation run, where boys and girls run the same distance. She realized in a couple of years, when she is in Grade 6, she’ll be running a distance of two kilometres while boys the same age as her, will be running for three kilometres.

For senior high those distances change to three and five kilometres, respectively.

“People don’t know that girls can run the same distance as boys,” says Morris when asked why she thinks there is a discrepancy between the distances.

Now, Morris and her mother Kristin Pardy-Morris are asking School Sports NL to change those rules so that boys and girls of the same age are running the same distances in competitions.

“It would make me feel mad, I want to run farther,” said Morris,”

commute · cycling · fitness · snow · winter

Ready to bike commute year round?

So you bought a bike during the pandemic–Welcome, welcome to the club!

And you’ve been riding for fun and maybe commuting, but it’s starting to get dark and cold and you’re wondering, what next? Do you keep riding? Do you ride year round?

I’m on Team Yes! I have been for a few years now.

And each year I share some advice.

Here’s some from the cycling media:

How to Commute All Year Round

“Just because it’s sub-zero, doesn’t mean you should give up your commute. Commuting can be a great form of motivation during the cold months as you have a goal: get to work on time. It’s a lot easier to convince yourself to ride 40 minutes to your office on a cold day, as opposed to going out for a 40 minute ride.”

Eight Tips to Keep Riding in Cold Weather

“Put on your final layers or gloves when you are walking out of the door. Especially when you are waiting on other people or tinkering with your bike, it’s all too easy to put on all of your warm layers and still spend several minutes inside heating up. Even though you might feel ok, moisture is accumulating on your skin. You likely won’t notice that you are sweating, but you will feel colder during your ride.”

And here’s some from us:

Getting ready for winter cycling!

Getting Ready for Winter Bike to Work Day!

Riding in the cold and the snow: A how-to, complete with bonus fashion tips!

Happy Winter Bike to Work Day! #WinterBikeToWorkDay

Have any questions about winter riding and cold weather bike commuting? Send them our way!

Here’s me winter biking for fun:

Sam on a fat bike

Here’s me dressed for commuting with my usual winter commuting bike:

Sam with her everyday gravel/commuting bike


Almost two years ago, I joined in the 220 workouts in 2020 challenge that fellow bloggers were doing on Facebook. I liked it because I could set my own rules for what counted as a workout. But it was also a real challenge because I had decided that my usual commute to the office didn’t count, and I was a bit of a weekend warrior except for that daily bike ride or walk.

Because of the COVID lockdowns, even that weekday commute was gone, while my dance studio, the swimming pool, and the stable where I board my horse were all closed. For several months, I had to improvise.

I started to go for walks and ride my bicycle to do errands (they had to be longer than my usual work commute to count). I found that I could sometimes sneak in a quick swim at the nearby pond at lunchtime. I discovered Yoga with Adriene and other Facebook Live or Zoom classes.

By the end of 2020, I had developed enough of a routine that I achieved those 220 workouts. A big part of that was checking in daily to see what everyone else was doing. I liked seeing a little bit of the lives of a diverse group of women – their dogs, watching them take on weightlifting or gymnastics challenges I would never dream of, sympathizing on the days when getting out of the house for a stupid little walk was a big deal.

Grumpy looking bald eagle stomping through the water, on his stupid little walk for his stupid mental and physical health.

In June of this year, Tracy said she was done with counting. Not me. I am a list maker and a tracker of many things. That daily accountability check has encouraged me to take advantage of yoga sessions a colleague offers twice a week, to schedule walks with friends, and to try new activities so that I move almost every day.

Now, after almost two years, the habit has become sufficiently ingrained that I get twitchy if I am inactive for too long. Unlike Tracy, I am not confident I could keep it up without some sort of tracking. If that fitness group were to disappear, I would keep on tracking, even if it is just a list in my phone.

This week, I celebrated completing 400 workouts. They weren’t all great workouts and I don’t think I look more fit. It feels good to have achieved that number. I am stronger, both physically and in my mental ability to keep doing things regularly. My sister says my swimming selfies are boring because I have so many and they are all basically the same. That’s a sign of a successful routine.

Me in a blue swim cap and goggles, with a pond and trees in the background.

Diane Harper lives and swims in Ottawa.

ADHD · dogs · fitness · season transitions · winter

Christine Past and Christine Present Conspire to Get Outdoors This Winter

With the colder weather coming, I know that I need to make some plans about how to stay active and to help me get over my resistance to going out in the cold. 

(I’m fine once I am out there, I just have trouble motivating myself to go out – a common problem that my ADHD amplifies for me.)

I love the idea of preplanning but, despite the repeated evidence that it works, I can’t always get my brain on board with the project of organizing things in advance.

This is where some of my past posts come in handy. Thanks to a solid history of blogging here at Fit is a Feminist Issue, I can easily look back at how my past self benefited from planning and persisting and it makes it seem easier to plan and persist now.

So, yesterday, I gave myself a refresher on things my past self figured out and now my current self is on board.

I know that Khalee’s need to go for a walk will help me get myself out the door so that’s helpful.

A light haired dog in a dark green sweatshirt stands facing the camera.
Khalee has a new hoodie so she’s all ready for chilly weather. (Do I think it is ridiculous to put clothes on a dog? Yes. Do I think that she looks adorable and hilarious? Also yes.) image description; Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog is facing the camera with her mouth slightly open so she kind of looks like she is smiling. She is wearing a dark green hooded sweatshirt and she is standing indoors in a doorway.

And I know that I need to dig out my hatphones because they make it easier to stay warm while listening to podcasts.

And I have my hiking boots to get me through the icky bits of the season before I break out my winter boots.

And, I have clear evidence that planning for winter activities makes a big difference.

So, I know that Khalee will help provide the impetus to get outside, and that I’ll have warm, dry feet and my head will keep warm while I listen to scary stories on my walk. I know that now is a good time to dig my snowshoes out of the shed and store them in the house. 

And I’ve realized that I have to switch up my time for walking with Khalee because going out at 5pm in the fall means walking in the dark and that adds an extra layer of resistance. 

What are you doing to prep for fitness activities during the winter months?

Do you have any extra recommendations for me?

Aside from this:

GIF of two people in red outfits hopping through the snow in a giant sack.
This was the first thing to come up when I typed ‘winter activities’ into the GIF search bar. I confess that I had not thought of ‘two person sack race’ as a winter activity before. Image description: GOF of two people in red outfits hopping along the snow in a giant sack in the winter woods.

cycling · fitness

Riding in the Fall Colours with GCAT

Top: Selfie of Sarah, Sam and Ellen. Bottom left: Sam selfie in her TFC jersey. Bottom right: GCAT sticker “I like to BIKE.”

This weekend was a mix of virtual and real world riding. On Sunday I finished Zwift Academy 2021 and on Saturday we were out and about on our bikes in real world, looking at the beautiful bright fall leaves.

You read about the fall colours ride here: “The event was put on by the Guelph Coalition for Active Transport (GCAT) for riders to enjoy the autumn scenery and help raise awareness about the environmental impacts of choosing cycling as a primary mode of transportation. ‘The purpose is to see the fall colours. It’s also to make people aware of active transportation as a means of getting around town,” Mike Darmon, president of GCAT told CTV.”

As usual with community cycling events there were all ages, abilities, and kinds of bikes. I loved seeing the kids and their smiling faces.

The ride was fun with lots of stops and starts along the way. We even got a free lesson from a University of Guelph professor on why leaves change colours in the fall.

I rode with Sarah and our friend Ellen. We were all glad I think that we didn’t bring our skinny tired road bikes. Some of the trails were a bit muddy. The weather was brisk but no rain and we even had a bit of sun for some of the ride.

Thanks for organizing GCAT! Next time maybe we’ll even have to stop for a drink after.


I’m back, out and about in the world, and missing some things more than ever

The pandemic has been going on a long time now and its effects can be odd and disconcerting. Friends were chatting recently about not being sure any more about whether they missed certain kinds of in person events. They said they’d lost touch with the person they were, the person who left the house, and travelled, and did things with other people they didn’t live with. Who even was that person? We were talking about academic conferences but it applies equally well to travel and fitness adventures.

I get it, this sense of becoming a different sort of person and not recognizing the person you are now in some of the things we did in the past. I hope I never go to work sick again. I hope I remember to wear a mask on public transit, if I’m unwell. But some ways of life in the Before Times are calling to me and the voices are louder than ever.

For me, as I start to emerge into the world more, it’s clearer to me how much I’ve missed events with people in the flesh. I’m now back in my office four or five days a week. I’m eating at restaurants indoors sometimes and I’m even back at the gym. That’s all possible because of vaccines and vaccine passports. Thanks scientists, thanks public health, and thanks politicians who’ve listened. It also helps that I don’t live with anyone who isn’t vaccinated. My children are all in their twenties. The oldest even turns 30 next year and has a master’s degree.

Now that Canada has lifted a global advisory against non-essential travel I’m even starting to think about travelling again. Sarah and I will likely go visit Jeff on the boat in January and go biking in Florida again. My next work travel is Montreal in November and after that, Vancouver in the spring. But I’ve also got some Air Canada credits and I’m thinking of places I might go. Hiking in Iceland maybe? Biking in Cuba? I’m still weighing those thoughts in the bigger context of climate change and wondering if maybe we should avoid extra trips, but what’s clear in my mind, absent that consideration, is that I’m still the person who wants to do that, even if I don’t do it for ethical reasons.

I joked the other night that I am starting to turn down Zoom invites for social things. I think I might not take part in virtual conferences post pandemic. But maybe I can take a year off and I’ll feel differently after that. We’ll see. As an academic administrator, it’s been long, full days of virtual meetings ever since the pandemic began.

And to be clear, I don’t get to say when I’m done. It’s a pandemic. Being done with the pandemic doesn’t mean the pandemic is done with us. I’ll follow the rules and public health advice because that’s the kind of person I am. But I am clear about what I want, even if I can’t always have it.

Here’s a contrast that made me laugh. Our ParticipACTION team is in (virtual) Newfoundland again and then photos of me in the actual place started to show up in my social media newsfeed. Oh, Newfoundland. I can’t wait to go back!

On the left me in actual Gros Morne, wearing bike clothes and a helmet standing in front of a National Parks sign. On the right, my team in virtual Gros Morne, Nfld on the PAtricipACTION app.

How are you feeling about all this as we emerge from what I hope is the worst of the pandemic and pandemic related restrictions?