Cycling is a great sport for cardiovascular fitness and has become a very popular form of exercise in recent years. However it does present some challenges to the body.
Back & Neck Pain – Road Cyclists
For road cyclists the problems are often related to spending hours in the saddle with only periodic breaks from this position when they get out of the saddle when climbing or sprinting. In maintaining a posture that is low and aerodynamic with the shoulders and chest low the rider must extend the head and hold it there to keep a good view of the road ahead. This places excessive loading on the neck and shoulders. In addition the posture required for road cycling keeps the lumbar spine in a relatively flexed posture, which will compress the discs and stretch the ligaments and joint capsules of the lower back, which can lead to back pain and injury. Many cyclists experience the resultant stiffness and aching in these areas following a ride. These symptoms can be transient, but with regular riding mechanical dysfunctions occur that result in recurrent or persistent pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder and back. Other riders find that knee pain is a regular occurrence whilst cycling. Due to the repetitive nature of turning the pedals, if the alignment of the foot is not correct in the pedal cleats strain can be put on the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the knee.
Joint & Ligament Injuries – Mountain Bikers
For mountain bikers the problems are slightly different, the relatively more upright postures and frequent changes to the riders position on the bike (to cope with changing terrain and gradient) put less strain on the back and neck. However the repeated jarring over bumps and the almost inevitable occasional fall can cause shocks through the spine and peripheral joints. Although back and neck problems are seen in mountain bike riders least, elbow and shoulder injuries are more frequently seen in amongst riders who prefer cycling off road.
A good set up on your bike is very important, so do seek advice from an experienced bike fitter to make sure that your set up is correct.
All of our chiropractors are able to treat cycling injuries, although some are more enthusiastic cyclists than others! Stuart Robinson is a keen cyclist, and has cycled across the Pyrenees tackling many of the famous mountain cols. Fiona Ellis also cycles for leisure, completing the London to Brighton Bike ride a few years ago.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to cycling you can book a free 20 minute consultation to briefly discuss the problem with one of our chiropractors, and find out whether we can help.