As exercise, cycling is excellent aerobic exercise for overall health and well being. As transportation, cycling is efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly. However, as with any exercise, there is some risk of injury. Cycling is demanding and repetitive, requiring stamina to keep going long enough to see benefits. The most common injuries in cyclists affect the muscles and joints in the legs and lower back. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk of the most common injuries so you can keep riding.
Common Causes of Leg Pain
Treating leg pain effectively depends on accurate diagnosis. Pain that occurs as a result of sudden injury is easy to diagnose, but pain that comes on more gradually, or without apparent injury, can be more difficult to diagnose, but the precise location of pain can help narrow down the possibilities. Here are some of the most common cycling related causes of pain.
Cycling doesn’t feel like a high impact sport, especially when compared with an activity like running, but appearances can be deceiving. The truth is, cycling places a great deal of stress on the knees, and knee pain is one of the most common complaints chiropractors hear from cyclists.
The most common cause of knee pain is having the saddle improperly positioned. Having the saddle too high, too far forward, or too far back can all lead to overstretching when pedalling. If you use cleats, be sure they are positioned properly, as poor cleat positioning can also increase strain on knees.
Another cause of knee pain is patellar tendonitis, which is simply inflammation of the tendon below the knee. This is most often the result of having the saddle too low and/or spending too much time in higher gears, inhibiting the gluteal muscles from working as they should, and increasing the load on the quads. Raising a too low saddle can engage the hamstrings and gluteal muscles, reducing the strain on quads and the patellar tendon. Changing pedalling speed periodically will also help prevent any one muscle group from being overworked during the course of your ride.
Even when the seat is positioned perfectly, cycling can still place significant stress on the knees. Chiropractic care can help loosen the muscles around the knee joint and improve blood flow, keeping the knee joints healthy.
During cycling, the calf muscles support both the ankles and the knees from strain during pedalling and can easily be pulled or strained. One of the most common causes of calf injury in cyclists is a saddle that is positioned too high, causing continuous muscle contraction. Having cleats positioned too close to the ball of the foot can also contribute to this problem.
The achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel and can become inflamed and sore from overuse or when the calf muscle becomes overextended, such as when the saddle is positioned too high, or when cleats are not properly positioned.
Treating and Preventing Leg Pain
Sports chiropractic is not just good for treating injuries after they occur, but can also help with preventing injuries from occurring in the first place, and can even help improve performance of athletes at all levels, from amateur to professional.
Minor imbalances in the body may not cause any noticeable symptoms, but they can increase strain on the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons during physical activity, preventing optimal function and increasing risk of injury. Chiropractic care can restore balance, improving function, minimizing injury, and reducing inflammation.
In one study involving 59 members of two Australian football clubs were divided randomly into two groups. Both groups received normal training, including massage and physiotherapy, while one group also received chiropractic care once a week for six weeks, then less often except as needed for injury. By the end of the season, the control group experienced more than four times as many hamstring injuries and about seven times as many muscle strains as the group that received chiropractic care. The participants in the chiropractic group also missed significantly fewer games than the control group.
Acupuncture and naturopathic care can both be used alongside chiropractic to improve performance and treat and prevent injury. Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to an area, speeding healing, while some research suggests that acupuncture can immediately improve strength power, and flexibility. With the help of a naturopath, you can ensure you are getting the right kind of fuel for your body to help you meet the demands of your ride, and to help you recover afterward.
Call your Sydney Chiropractor at the NeuroBalance Chiropractic Clinic now on 02 9938 5456 (Brookvale) or 02 9420 1474 to find out how we can help you recover from injury, prevent future injury, and improve your performance.