Feb 2, 2017

Get back in the saddle with some great advice from St Judes Clinic

Cycling has become very popular over the last few years and more and more of us are feeling the benefits.  Read our article on bike set-up, when things go wrong and what you can do to get back in the saddle.

cycling advice from St Judes

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Over the last few years cycling has increased considerably in popularity and can provide great health benefits to everyone, from recreation riders to serious competitors.

Cycling is a highly repetitive sport and an average cyclist might perform well over 5,000 revolutions an hour, so you can see how easy it is for small problems to turn into bigger issues over time.

Physiotherapists can use their knowledge and skills to help provide guidance on cycling posture and the set-up of your bike to help avoid developing issues.  The set-up of your bike is so essential.  Having the seat too high or low, placing your foot in the wrong position of the pedal can alter the load through your foot or having the wrong distance between the seat and handlebars can lead to excess strain on the shoulders, neck and back.  Obviously, you can have traumatic injuries as a result of falls and crashes, but most injuries occur from overuse and this article will focus on the most common, which includes knee pain, back pain, neck pain and Achilles problems.

Knee pain - this is common in cyclists due to the repetition of knee flexion as the pedal goes round.  An incorrect bike set up can alter the forces going through the knee leading to inflammation and wear and tear of various structures.  Physiotherapy can diagnose the problem and develop a suitable rehab programme to reduce the symptoms and help prevent recurrence.

Back pain - this is common in cyclists due to the flexed position being held for long periods.  This sustained position can compress the discs of the spine or place an excessive strain on muscles and ligaments over time which leads to pain.  Physiotherapy can assess your posture both on and off the bike.  Often the seat position can cause issues and slight adjustments can make a difference.  Another area to focus on is core strength, which will help the cyclist to maintain a good position and support the back for long periods of time and Pilates may well help with this.

Neck pain - this is often caused by poor posture on the bike or a poor set up of the bike.  Changes such as adjusting the seat height or handlebar position may make a difference.  Physiotherapy can assess the neck including a posture assessment and provide appropriate treatment to alleviate symptoms including manual therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises.

Achilles pain - this is pain in the Achilles tendon which runs from the calf to the heel.  It can develop irritation and other problems from overuse.  Physiotherapy can help this through icing and taping to reduce the loading.  Also specific rehab exercises to encourage repair and strengthen the calf muscle can help.  It is also important to look at the position of the foot on the pedal as this can alter the load through the foot.

This article provides a brief summary of some of the more common cycling injuries.  If you are struggling with an injury, then contact St Judes for an assessment to help you get back on your bike!  Tel: 01525 377751.