Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada, especially here on the West Coast. It is
accessible to a large age range and body type, and compared to another popular form of
exercise, running, cycling is not as hard on weight-bearing joints. With cycling increasing as a
form of commuting (thanks also to bike lanes that enable safer routes), competitive as well as
social teams forming, combined with the many events to participate for every level, this classic
sport is seeing unprecedented levels of popularity. Consequences of all this activity on the bike
also leads to injuries. Some of them are not predictable nor preventable, such as accidents
involving motor vehicles, and some of them are a result of a lack of technical skill, and for this
many clubs are offering to help instruct new arrivals to the sport.
While Chiropractic is a valid option for treatment of many of the acute injuries sustained from the types of injuries sustained in a cycling accident, this article will focus more on the importance of Chiropractic for the care and prevention of overuse injuries sustained on the bike, and the positive effects on performance when the underlying reasons for this overuse are addressed.
The pedal stroke on a typical road bike requires strength and endurance in the quads, glutes,
calves, and hamstrings, primarily. The forces produced can be represented by two separate but
continuous halves of pushing the pedal down and pulling the pedal up. Often lost in this
equation is the stability required from the rest of the body for the legs to push and pull against.
Identifying these potential energy leaks and prescribing the right solution is also what a
Chiropractor can do for you. Core strength and endurance are fundamental to the ability to
transfer the forces from the legs into the pedal, which will eventually drive that bike up
mountains. Core strengthening exercises that include weight shifting, as well as those that
target areas neglected from riding the bike, are essential performance enhancers.
If you think about it, the bike riding position, especially when you lift off the seat, is very similar to a plank, and so plank based variations are a great way to increase a solid and athletic cycling motion.
Exercises like Mountain Climbers, Tripod Sits, Bear Crawling are higher threshold plank-based
exercises. Lower threshold exercises might include Dead Bugs, Wall Bugs, Swiss Ball assisted
Dead Bugs. Fans of Yoga could also spend more time in poses and variations like the Sun
Salutation along with Side Plank Yoga variations. Most of these have similarities so it is up to
you to embrace your weakness, then you can build up your resistance where you need it.
The mobility required in the ankle, knee, hip and low back is not excessive so that most of us
can find a comfortable riding position and pedal stroke. Occasionally, we find that some
asymmetries in the flexibility between one ankle and another, or that one hip may not want to
come up as high as the other so the low back on that side is strained. In these cases, along with
corrective type exercises, there might be some need for a helping hand.
Chiropractic manipulations and specific soft tissue techniques can release the tension that is holding you back and changing your biomechanics. Optimizing these movements will mitigate the risk of
overuse syndromes stemming from regional interdependence, which is essentially the compensation we see in one area of the body that is directly related to the dysfunction in another. Sports injury prevention is a hot topic right now, and not always easy to quantify, but it is easy to see how improving function in the joints of the body allows for forces to be dissipated instead of accumulating, adding up to pain.
Improving functional mobility in the body, along with minimizing injury risk, also maximizes
performance capabilities. A healthy and balanced body can train harder, and an uninjured body
does not need to miss or alter training sessions. Now, no one is going to pretend we can always
train hard and still avoid some niggling injuries, but you will be better off under the care of a Chiropractor that understands your physical challenges and the demands you put on them.
Chiropractic used as a modality for performance care will also relate to the effects on the body it
can have through facilitating recovery processes, and the knowledge of the Chiropractor in all of
the aspects of Active Recovery, other recovery technique applications, and tips for sleep
hygiene and nutritional basics.