With the first sunny and warmer days of spring, it can be tempting to just head out and get some big rides in. This is great if you have been consistent with your riding during the winter but, if you haven’t, a sudden jump in mileage could easily result in injury. One way to help avoid injury is by wearing the correct cycling gear. The British Cycling Federation says not to be too quick to pack away your winter bike or clothing, it is not unusual to see all four seasons in one ride during the spring. Spring riding means mixed conditions. Wear multiple layers so you can easily adjust to changes in the weather. Even on warmer days, your hands and feet can still easily get chilled. Some lightweight windproof full fingered gloves provide a good spring option. By dressing appropriately you can help prevent muscles strains.
If you are getting back on your bicycle for the first time or after a long break it is important to increase your mileage slowly to prevent common injuries. If you do injure yourself however chiropractic is a great way to help treat injuries that can be caused by cycling and help your body function at its optimum to get the most out of your cycling.
Common injuries and conditions that can occur due to cycling that chiropractic can treat include:
Chondromalacia patella/ Patellofemoral syndrome:
Chondromalacia patella is abnormal softening of the cartilage of the underside the kneecap (patella). It is a cause of pain in the front of the knee. It is one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain. It results from degeneration of cartilage due to poor alignment of the kneecap (patella) as it slides over the lower end of the thighbone. This process is sometimes referred to as patellofemoral syndrome. Activities such as cycling can cause this to happen. Chiropractic treatment can help this by working on the quad muscles to help realign and strengthen them with rehabilitation, whilst improving the range of motion in the knees, ankle and hips.
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITB):
After a long ride, many cyclists suffer from pain and tenderness across the outer part of the thigh. If these symptoms last longer than a couple of days, ie longer than usual post-ride muscle soreness (a day or two), the problem may be excessive friction of the connective tissue across the outer quadriceps muscle, known as ITB When cyclists feel tenderness and pain across the outer part of their knee, the lower insertion of the ITB inflames causing ‘runner’s knee’. Ignore the name, as this well-known condition does not spare cyclists. ITB pain can afflict seasoned cyclists, as well as those new to the sport, as there are multiple causes, and symptoms quickly become chronic. It is important to have it treated, to avoid it becoming chronic. Chiropractic treatment can help by working on the ITB to help loosen it, whilst improving the range of motion in the knees and hips. You can also use a foam roller in between treatments to help yourself at home.
Foam roller IT band – Use upper arm to slowly roll yourself along the foam roller but don’t go beyond the knee. Massage for around one minute.
The ulnar nerve is one of the nerves supplying the arm and it can become trapped at the elbow and cause pain and pins and needles in needles in the arm and hand. Cyclists can suffer with this due to their elbows being flexed for prolonged periods which aggravates this nerve. With chiropractic treatment we can help reduce the pain and inflammation and speed up the recovery time. It is important to adjust the handle bar grip and seat position to help prevent your elbows from being flexed for prolonged periods.
Piriformis syndrome. Also known as wallet syndrome, because of where it hurts, this is often caused by overtraining and speciﬁcally by overworking the gluteus maximus muscles in your buttocks. The piriformis itself is a small muscle that rotates the leg outwards. As this isn’t a movement that cyclists need to do much, the muscle can shorten and weaken. If overstressed, it can build in size to the point of putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain or numbness down the leg or in the hip — which is why it’s a common cause of sciatica. With chiropractic treatment, the focus is to reduce the tightness in the piriformis muscle and to strengthen it if weak with rehabilitation exercises. The range of motion in the pelvic joints will also be improved with treatment making for more comfortable cycling.
Neck pain from cycling is usually due to weak deep neck flexor muscles and poor posture on the bicycle. By having the handle bars too low or leaning too far forward, the pain will be exacerbated. Chiropractic treatment will focus on improving joint function in the spine and decrease muscle tightness to get your neck pain free. After that, simple rehab exercises can then be given to strengthen those deep neck flexor muscles. You can also help yourself between treatments by doing simple neck stretches. Hold these stretches for 10-30 seconds. :
Lastly it is important to stretch your legs before and after a cycle to help prevent muscle strain. So don’t forget! Below are some simple leg stretches that you should hold for between 10-30 seconds.