This week is national bicycle ‘Bike Week’ 6-13th June with Cycling UK.
Often these yearly event would bring people together (click here to read about it’s origins), however, this year they have decided to inspired us to complete some online challenges.
Especially as we have been advised to not use public transport as much as possible, and to cycle and work more for health and wellbeing, I thought I would write a blog on my musings around cycling.
The health benefits are indisputable, and I would whole heartedly encourage the majority of the population to do some form of cycling, especially for anyone who suffers from knee conditions (please do talk to a healthcare professional about this before undertaking any new form of exercise if you have some sort of injury)
- Cycling to work can mean you have a 45% lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- If you cycle regularly in adulthood, you will enjoy a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger
However, as with most good things, there are some common pitfalls to watch out for when using you bicycle. Some are more when when using a mountain bike, others are more prevalent when using a road bike.
- having your knees lower than your hips throughout the whole leg cycle will help reduce many types of knee pain, put the pelvis and low back in a safer position, and ultimately allow your quadriceps (the front thigh muscle), to generate more power and strength. This could be achieved by elevating your seat.
- we do not love having your back rounded like an angry cat. The pros often do this to maximise air flow and reduce wind resistance. Most of us are not professionals, nor have access to daily physical therapists to help push their bodies to the limit. To help stop rounding and crouching position, try to raise your handle bars up slightly. The result can be that you get less back pain when cycling.
- as chiropractors and osteopaths, we get to see plenty of people with neck pain and shoulder tension. Wearing a helmet, whilst absolutely essential when you are out biking, does produce more weight on your head. Keep your head and chin tucked in and as close to your shoulders as possible. This will create less muscular force, and ultimately less tension for your neck and shoulders. We want to reduce, what we in the medical industry call, anterior head carriage.
- the ankle and foot positioning is next to be examined! It can be so easy to put your weight and pressure through the toe rather than leading with the heel. Just a little change like that can reduce the chance of tight calves and achilles problems whilst riding on your bicycle.
- the other typical concern we get is ulnar nerve compression at the wrists. When you use your bicycle, you can rest the back of your hands in an upwards position, putting undue pressure on the front of your wrists. This can then irritate and compress one of the nerves that run through the wrist, and annoy the little joints and muscles in that area. Some gloves have extra padding to help reduce the chance of getting this. We recommend that you keep mindful of keeping the wrists straight rather than any cocking or bending.
- Our last neuro-musculo-skeletal piece of advice is to avoid locking out of your elbows. Much the same as when driving, or most other activities, the joints of your body tend to have more strength and stability when not quite locked out. So focus on having a subtle bend in the elbows at all times. This will give you some bounce within the body rather than a rigid frame.
We haven’t even touched on the chaffage on your perineum and inner thighs, which we will leave to your imagination. Suffice to say, investing in a gel seat and padded shorts, together with vaseline can do wonders!
If you have any worries or concerns that your bicycle could be the cause of your pains, please do contact one of the team, request a call back, or ping us an email. We are here to help keep you moving and enjoying life.