5 SIMPLE TIPS TO PREVENT PAINS DURING AND AFTER A LONG BICYCLE TRIP

Form follows function is a concept we greatly appreciate not only in modern architecture but also the entire anatomy of the human body. Looking at the biking, in general, we might see some flaws about the posture and being in this for an extended period of time might cause you more aches after, than you want. Most of these are easy to predict and therefore equally easy to prevent.

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Here we present 5 problems with tips to help prevent the biggest problems while bicycle riding. Of course, these do not replace proper adjustment of your equipment, they are meant to be a supplement after you took down the helmet in your hostel at night or before on you sit down on your couch to watch TV.

1. Postural balance

Looking at the posture, one of the muscles most septic to shortening is the pectoral major and minor. An anterior position of the shoulder can be complicated for many reasons including nerve compression, breathing problems and global shoulder complaints. As a cyclist, you know these tingling sensations in your fingers or occasional numbness? They can actually be caused by your shoulder position. The condition is called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and can sometimes be misinterpreted as a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

 

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Pectoralis Major/ Minor stretching, statically to prevent shortening. The muscles group shown on the left are mostly phasic style which makes them more prone to shortening over long times. Even though, the tonic-and-phasic-muscle theory has mostly been disproven in modern science as a rigid system, in most people the theory still holds true.

2. What you don’t use, you lose

 

The muscles not being used are easily being neglected by our body. If you now bike every day, your body will send most of its nutrients to the muscles being used. The last thing you want is to create a dysbalance in your body between antagonist/protagonist.

 

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Walk around, stretch, swim, climb, run, … whatever you do, do something that uses other muscles in your off-time.

 

3. Passive stretch on structures for prolonged times

What is meant is your back, yes you sit most of the day bent down forward. The posture you have on your bike even the best possible will include a spinal curve that is different from an upright position while walking. What you want to do is avoid any protrusion of your intervertebral disks. Biomechanically speaking, as you flex the back, the forces increase in the front of each vertebra. This will then create a force on the intervertebral disk towards the back and pushing its fluids out of place.

 

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Try yoga poses that concentrate on back extensions or McKenzie Style treatment poses. These poses will help maintain the fluid within the vertebral disks and ensures their integrity. 

 

4. Save your engine

Your knees are worth gold on this trip. There are many things you can do to maintain good condition. Let’s start from the beginning, biomechanically. Many people stand with a so-called hyperextension, it allows us to conserve energy while load bearing. However, this energy conservation comes at a great cost: increased friction on the joint surface and placing excess stress on the ligaments in and around the knee.

 

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Make sure your stance is active. The knee should be in a comfortable 0-30 degree flexion at times of your stance at rest. This position also requires muscle force to some extent and trains your quadriceps (especially Vastus Medialis) without stressful impacts. On the picture, the direct opposite is depicted called passive stance or knee hyperextensions which should be avoided at most times.

 

5. Motion is lotion

This catchy term is always true for the human body, but as a cyclist, we want to focus on the neural system for now. The peripheral nervous system is compiled of cords running throughout the entire human body. As one takes up certain postures for a prolonged time (as in biking) with possible pressure points (your wrist on the handlebar), risks increase for problems. The passageways become narrow due to inflammation and we get numbness, pain or hot/cold sensations.

 

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Nerve flossing is a technique that can be found all over the internet to preserve or regain mobility of the peripheral nervous system. In short, it involves a tension on the nerve to be flossed, you might feel a slight numbness during or before the exercise (never after, that’s the sign that you overdid it). Once the tension is felt, move the limb around while keeping the slight tension. Comparable to flossing the teeth with a tension, hence the name of this technique.

 

This article was written by Valentin Nerding, BSc in Physiotherapy

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