Just as potholes and countless kilometres can wear away your tyres, stretch your chain and cause your wheels to move out of true making them wobble, the wear and tear of cycling can pull your body out of alignment, something we see quite often at LiveWell Family Chiropractic.
Any repetitive exercise performed over an extended period of time, under fatigue and dehydration will cause misalignment through the spine, muscle tissues, tendons and ligaments. When continuing to exercise with underlying injuries can also lengthen the recovery period and effect performance. That’s why I even see my own Chiropractor regularly (fortnightly) to keep my ‘wheels true’.
So, what are the tell-tale signs you’re a cyclist?
- Hip Pain and Lower Back Pain
- Numb Hands
- Stiff Neck and Shoulders
So, lets break down each of them!
Lower back and Hip Pain
With your gluteal muscles doing the predominant amount of work throughout the pedal stroke they often get tight. Why? Cyclists often opt for the extra round of coffees for the bunch rather than ten minutes stretching and restoring adequate length through these muscles. Does this sound like you?
Sacroiliac dysfunction is also a contributor! When sitting in behind your fellow cyclists look for the small dimples on their lower back and see which drops lower. More often or not you will see a difference between the two. With a smooth pedal stroke and well fitted bike you actually shouldn’t see any deviation through this area but commonly you will see one drop lower than the other. When it is noticeable on a ride it is only a matter of time until your saddle and saddle position resumes responsibility for the discomfort caused but is it the equipment or it is you?
Positioning on the bike is important. Whether you are a recreational cyclist or professional, most cyclist spend on average 45minutes to an hour sitting, loading the joints in flexion through the lower back, neck and shoulders. This is quite similar to that of the seated position over a desk. The forward flexion of your lumbar spine and contracted hip flexors can cause increased levels of stress and strain through your lower lumbar spine and surrounding tissues. Without adequate movement through the vertebra in the lumbar spine pain is only a matter of time until pain in these areas starts.
Pins and Needles/ Numb Hands
Pins and needles or numbness in the hands is common occurrence in cyclists. Do you ever sit in your bunch and see the rider in front of you shaking their hands ferociously or squeezing and un-squeezing their hand trying to obtain more blood flow back through? This numbness can occur directly from the hands themselves as you may be over-reaching and compressing the nerves in your hands through the wrists. Alternatively, this numbness may actually be arising from your upper back, neck or your thoracic spine. Again, being in the correct position and properly fitted may help but with increased use and time the repeated stress and strain caused from the vibrations from the road up into your hands, arms, shoulders and neck may take its toll.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
When positioned on any bike whether it be a commuter bicycle, road bike or time trial bike the neck is fixated in extension. Although this is somewhat more desirable as we typically carry our heads in flexion which is the opposite to the natural C-shape curvature of the cervical spine and neck when holding the neck in extension or hyperextension (typically seen more in TT bike riders) fatigue and stiffness often develops within the deep neck extensors (trapezius and suboccipital muscles). When obtaining good movement throughout the cervical spine we allow the load to be shared equally and not cause excessive stress and strain through the vertebrae that are not.
The Cervico-thoracic (base of neck and top of shoulders) also takes on a lot of stress as this is commonly the area of your spine where the curve changes from extension to flexion. This area can benefit from Chiropractic care comprising of joint articulation and manipulation to healthy range of movement.
Understanding the rigors and stresses that cyclists put on their bodies is the first step in helping improve and reduce the occurrence of pain and injury when riding. To make sure your riding experience the best that it can be take the time to inspect and make sure firstly you are purchasing a bike that is the correct size. Having a bike fit is also recommended for those spending prolonged periods cycling as there can be modifications and adjustments made to the bike to allow the smoothest ride possible. Making sure your body is capable to adapting to the strains and stresses is also critical in avoiding injury!
For more information please call (03) 9995 8164 or email email@example.com!