Pain Free Pedaling!
Author: Craig Camidge, D.C.
On occasion, I bump into patients and people who enjoy the sport of cycling. In fact, some of my more fond memories include my first century ride with my father. We did 114 miles when I was 12 years old. I rode it on a Raleigh mountain bike and it took almost 12 hours. My dad is a saint for staying with me!
While prolonged time on a bicycle can be quite therapeutic in regards to the stresses of life, it can also be quite demanding on the muscles and joints – especially of the back and neck. Hopefully, I can give you a few tips that will make your rides more comfortable and enjoyable.
Check Your Fit!
If you have never had your bicycle professionally fitted to your body, that is the first step!
Common issues with bicycle fit include top-tube length and handlebar height. If your effective top tube length is too long (stem length included), your lower back will be likely to hyperextend during long rides. This causes lower back pain, excessive joint strain, and can lead to issues with saddle contact on sensitive areas. Using a shorter stem (your LBS can find you an inexpensive “swap-out”) can decrease distance between your seat and the handlebars – relieving lower back issues.
Handlebars that are positioned too low will necessitate increased upper back and neck extension. This will lead to sore upper back muscles, neck pain and perhaps headaches if severe enough. Raising your handlebars even half an inch or so can help these issues.
Check Your Fitness!
After proper bicycle fit, the most important thing is taking care of your body. Proper core exercises and effective stretches for the neck and upper back are essential. Spinal adjustments can make all the difference between a pleasant spin or a painful slog. A Tuck Chiropractor can provide you stretches, exercises, and adjustments to keep you in the saddle.
One more thing:
I can hear a few of you now, “But I need to be in an aggressive position to go faster!” If that’s your worry, it really is your choice. My advice? Unless you’re going to make money riding your bicycle, get in a comfortable position and just enjoy the ride!