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Overcoming Adversity - Matt Burton

12th Jan 2024

Anyone who has followed Matt Burton’s story knows what the win at IRONMAN West Australia means to him. For us at Sync Ergonomics, we are incredibly proud to be a part of the support team that helps Matt achieve his peak performance.

The Long Game

We first met Matt Burton at IRONMAN Cairns in 2019, when Matt was dealing with some long-standing physical issues. Over coffee and as conversation progressed, it became clear that within Matt’s struggles, there were some effective strategies that had not yet been employed in the treatment and management of his physical condition.

Although Matt is an elite athlete, the issues that he has faced in his career are common to Triathletes and indeed, the cyclists we work with. The equipment optimisation, bike position optimisation and treatment strategies we used to help Matt, are ultimately no different to the strategies we use with the range of athletes we work with.

From these early conversations back in 2019, we were confident that Matt would be able to return to full health, full training capacity and achieve the race performances that are reflective of his true capabilities.

A Focus on Ergonomics

The Sync Ergonomics brand evolved out of our bike fitting work at Adaptive Human Performance. While our focus at Adaptive HP is position optimisation, Sync Ergonomics specifically focuses on the time trial aerobar components, where traditionally there has been a lack of viable options for truly optimising athletes' time trial positions.

For Matt, we knew that we would need to evaluate his position and equipment choice as a whole, going back to the basics and building a foundation that would not only allow him to be comfortable (and injury free), while also allowing him to achieve his best aero position (performance).

For any time trial athlete, saddle choice, saddle position and crank length forms the foundation of the most effective position. With Matt, this is precisely where interventions started.

Maintaining a Healthy Body

Successful diagnosis underpins any successful recovery. While the description of Matt’s physical symptoms told the story of the underlying biomechanical concern, referral to Joel Laing (Absolute Health and Performance) was critical in understanding this further and formalising the treatment strategy. Joel’s background in the application of the McKenzie Method, for Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), makes him an exceptional resource for any athlete dealing with low-back pain.

While we play a part in managing this on the bike, it is the regular care back home in Perth that “keeps the train on track”. Matt’s wider care team includes Leon Vogels (WA Sports Med Physiotherapy), Alex Biffin (Hexa Health Club), Aidan Talijancich (Drive HP) and Louise Tomlinson (Resolve Remedial Massage). Matt’s experience in training and racing racing over the past 12-months is a testament all of these strategies employed.

“Be it training or racing, I can now complete all sessions pain free, pushing my physiological limits, not pushing the boundaries of injury. It’s the first time in 10-years that I am at the point where I feel like my training and racing is not limited by injury or risk of injury ”
— Matt Burton

Sync Cockpit Development

Matt’s position requirements are perfectly suited to our EVO ecosystem and Matt’s feedback has contributed to the refinements that have been made with the V2 systems over the last 12-months.

For many Triathletes, there is a requirement for a more forward arm cup position, than is typically catered for on most standard cockpits. There are a number of reasons for this, but it is emphasised with tall athletes, such as Matt. This requirement for “extra length” carries over to the V2 systems we now offer.

One important development that has evolved over the last 12-months is the angled clamp adapter, which we use to provide a 20-degree arm cup angle. With Tri positions, not limited by the UCI rules, we can use this extra angle to provide even more support.

From our perspective, the goal is always optimisation of both comfort and performance, and we believe that when ergonomics are properly considered, there is no reason why one has to be sacrificed over the other. Specifically for IM WA, we have used the confidence Matt has gained with the use of the standard V2 EVO ecosystem and applied that fit data in the supply of a 3D printed Ti handle bar extension, specific to his needs.

“The Sync product shows that comfort and performance are not at opposing ends of the spectrum. The EVO system, and now the Ti version as well, allows me to be as relaxed as possible while in an aero position. To the point that I don’t even think about comfort anymore, even on the longest rides ”
— Matt Burton

What’s Next?

2022 will bring a whole host of new challenges for Matt, mixing the challenges of parenthood and the training/racing demands of being an elite athlete. Matt has now qualified for both of the IRONMAN World Championship events in 2022. His calendar will be “padded out” with events beforehand and of course, a return to Busselton in 2022 for his home event.

“2022 is all about continuing this momentum, improving fitness and race performance. I’m looking forward to a full year, with confidence in equipment, health and performance. The support network around me continues to allow me to push the boundaries, so I will continue to work hard and see where this challenge takes me”
— Matt Burton

Matt’s story is a true example of overcoming adversity and we're glad to play a small role in being part of his success so far. For now, we are stoked that Matt has been able to achieve his goals and achieve the performances we know he is capable of achieving. We look forward to building on the foundations and being a part of these new challenges.


Images by Stef Hanson(@stefhansonproductions)

Words by Ken Ballhause of Sync Ergonomics