It looks like it is going to be a summer of cycling. The Tour de France has started and the Commonwealth Games cycling events begin in a couple of weeks. So many of us may be feeling the need for speed. There may be intentions to dust the cobwebs off our neglected bicycles. Or ramp it up a gear by attempting a long distance cycle ride.
As a chiropractor, I actively encourage my patients to take regular exercise. I would also, however, urge cycling fans to prepare appropriately before embarking on a cycle ride, especially if you haven’t ridden a bicycle for several years. Cyclists need to take the necessary precautions or they place themselves at greater risk of injury.
Where does it go wrong?
Overstretching to reach the handlebars and backwards-sloping seats. Wrong seat heights and soft tyres. Just some of the factors that can contribute to neck and back pain in cyclists. According to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), a staggering 73% of cyclists weren’t fitted for their bicycles last year* and one in five (22%) have experienced back or neck pain whilst or as a result of cycling**.
It’s great to see more and more people taking up cycling as it’s an excellent way to keep fit. However it’s really important to take the time to ensure you’re sitting comfortably. Ensuring you’re properly ‘fitted’ to your bicycle, to avoid injuring your neck or back.
For beginners, a hybrid bike is regarded as a good all-rounder. This is because it is not as heavy as a mountain bike, as it has thicker tyres than a road bike, making it more stable. The frame of a hybrid bike also allows for a ‘relaxed’ cycling position. You won’t get this with a racing bike, for example. As chiropractors we can always advise you on how to approach cycling safely. Advise you what signs to look for if you’re overdoing it.
To help budding cyclists mind their backs, the BCA has developed the following top tips to allow you to enjoy your summer of cycling:
- Don’t strain – make sure you can reach the handlebars comfortably without having to overreach or strain your back, neck, shoulders or wrists. Adjust the height of the handlebars so that you can sit in a more upright position.
- Change your posture – Try standing up to cycle at some stages and sitting down at others (but make sure you do this safely!). You might think that you’re limited to one position when cycling but it’s important to try and change your posture.
- Seat checker – the seat should be ideally flat or sloping slightly forwards to try and minimise strain on the lower back. Try a variety of saddle shapes to find the one most comfortable for your general, size and cycling position.
- Height test – when the pedal is at the bottom, cyclists should be able to sit on the seat with their leg almost straight with only a slight bend at the knee. This should allow maximum pedalling efficiency.
- Pump it up – keep tyres pumped up to minimise impact on the spine and consider investing in a floor standing pump.
- Keep it loose – make sure clothing isn’t too restrictive and provides cushioning and support where required.
- Warm up & cool down – warm up slowly ahead of a cycle and stretch afterwards to help loosen up tight muscles.
Why not make an appointment for an assessment here at Shrewsbury Chiropractic Clinic? Perhaps you are in pain or maybe you have just taken up cycling. Or you’re embarking on a long distance cycle ride or race. Then you can enjoy your summer of cycling
*Research conducted on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association in March 2013 of 485 UK adults.
**Research conducted on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association in March 2013 of
432 UK adults.