By Dean - SPORTS CLINICAL, Mar 14 2014 02:28AM
The boom in fitness and sport in the last 10 years has been truly remarkable. Cycling’s growth has seen no bounds too and with it, the number of injuries that occur and we then get to see at the clinic. It’s probably no wonder given that there’s a slightly asymmetrical being attached to a pretty symmetrical object moving with some velocity on the vagaries of UK roads!. The chances are at some point something is going to complain, give in or go wrong. So while cycling is a great non-load bearing exercise for the body, the proper setup of the bike with all of its many variables is essential to correctly fit that particular individual clinging upon it. Getting this done accurately and knowing the many areas affecting our attachment to our cycles takes a good deal of mathematics and understanding.
Sorting out the bike setup will resolve many issues and problems of comfort, ease and performance, which are more evident, visible and measureable, i.e. correct handlebar adjustment, size of frame, saddle position and height. The more difficult and less immediately resolved issues are related to the person attached. Pain, aches, inflexibility, body structures out of alignment and imbalance of muscles are the main things we see and deal with when looking at injuries from bike riding and not just those that have occurred from the occasional falling off. Though sometimes inconsequential some of these involuntary dismounts might result in an unexpected change, such as a forearm pain or hamstring tightening up for seemingly no apparent reason.
As cyclist ourselves and seeing a significant number of riders through our doors, we have good insight and understanding of how a small change that can occur leads to a big impact on the body and its overall performance. As such these can make a huge difference to just things like comfort and ability to cover those longer distances.
Knee problems are one of the most common injuries suffered by cyclists and perhaps no wonder given on average we repeatedly push those pedals round 4000 revolutions an hour. Cleats that are incorrectly positioned or poor set-up of saddle height and distance can cause imbalance and aggravate the tissues in the hip, leg, ankle or knee quite easily. Some of these issues may build gradually over time, whilst others may become evident fairly quickly. Often in assessing, treating and asking questions we can find out what’s happening with you and what you're doing on the bike.
The common causes of injury or niggles tend to come from the bike setup, faulty biomechanics, postural issues, inflexibility or asymmetry in body alignment and falling off with the resultant minor or major conditions that might occur.
Have your bike correctly fitted by a recognised fitter and keep a record of saddle height and position, handle bar alignment and where the hoods sit best etc. It’s surprising how quickly these may vary over time, use and heavy riding thus putting the bike and you out of alignment and causing a problem. Improving your ability and performance may require a change in components or setup, so you should have these rechecked and your bike serviced regularly to maintain the optimum riding position for you.
Should a pain or injury occur and to help in resolving issue, it’s worth making a note of when the pain came on and how long it lasted or reoccurred and anything that helps ease it temporarily. This knowledge helps us understand and resolve the problem more quickly and effectively.
Problems don’t usually get, resolved by themselves and even if they ease, continuing to ride daily or train hard for an event, as the miles start to build up, the niggles may do too. We see many of our cycle clients not only to resolve these issues but like their bikes they come for regular maintenance to prevent them from occurring in the first place and keep them in good condition to be able to achieve what they want from cycling. Along with regular treatment sessions, committing to better flexibility and building up your core is a key element to countering the sitting at the work desk or laptop and then asking the base of your back cope and your body to lean over the handlebars for miles. No amount of tinkering with the bike setup or oiling the chain will help fix this.
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