Cycling- Friend or Foe?

Hey guys I’m back again continuing on from my last post on hip flexor tightness. This week I’m concentrating on all of you who are keen cyclists.

While cycling is a really great way of exercising, that keeps you fit while being kind to your joints, you still need to counteract the hours you spend in the saddle. What I’ve noticed from treating cyclists is that you are a bunch that is not too fond of stretching afterwards!!! Sound familiar? And also the people who I see most in the clinic are cyclists who work sedentary jobs and have may have a long commute to work. So what does this mean?

Take an accountant who likes to cycle up to 100km during the week and one long cycle at the weekend (100km). We’ll call him Bob. Bob drives 1 hour to work works 8 hours a day, spending at least 6 of these sitting in one position, then he drives an hour home and then cycles for 1.5 hours. So that is a total of 9.5 hours in a seated position, 5 days a week. Not great for flexibility. The number of hours spent sitting will shorten his quads and hip flexors and these muscles can be massive contributors to low back pain, and so must be paid attention to. To add insult to injury his quads get a good work out during a cycle as they are in a shortened position as he is sitting in the saddle. Because of this they need to be stretched post cycle or he risks them shortening further.

I see this very often when I see patients who come in complaining of back pain. They have massive quads but very little gluteal muscle bulk (also known as flat bum syndrome!!). This muscle becomes important when you run or walk, because we need our gluts to help us do that well. So I’ve included a gluteal strengthening exercise for all you flat bummers :0).

 

Ok so what can you do to combat this? Basically you need to do is stretch the tight muscles, strengthen the weak ones, and get a bike fit with a professional if you are doing high mileage.  

Below is a list of exercises you can do to combat some of these issues. 

http://www.eastcoastphysio.ie/client-exercises/gastroc-stretch

http://www.eastcoastphysio.ie/client-exercises/groin-stretch

http://www.eastcoastphysio.ie/client-exercises/hip-flexor-stretch

http://www.eastcoastphysio.ie/client-exercises/quad-stretch

http://www.eastcoastphysio.ie/client-exercises/bridge (Glut strengthening)

TIP’s

Hold stretches for 20 seconds each side- DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH- you should be able to breathe normally

Hip flexor stretch- keep abdominals pulled in and do not arch lower back

Quad stretch- Keep abdominals pulled - do not arch lower back and contract your Glutes if you are able to.

 

For those of you who are may be keen to try some off road biking check out http://fatbikeadventures.ie/fit-enough-to-ride-a-bicycle-on-a-beach/.

We had our staff day out with Ian as our guide and we had a ball. Great day out and fun way to see parts of Wicklow you otherwise mightn’t get to. 

I would like to say that you cured a persistent and painful shoulder in the 6 sessions you said it would take. 9 months or so on no reoccurrence of the problem. Best regards.

Andy Harding
Roundwood, Wicklow