Cycling World Magazine July 2017 - Page 40

40 | Cycling World Healthy Cycling Preventing Back Injury Written by Denise Kesson – BackCare Trustee, The Charity for Back and Neck Pain O ver recent years, there has been significant growth in cycling as a hobby and sport. Inevitably, this has resulted in increased injuries, including back and neck pain issues. BackCare, the national charity for supporting people in managing and avoiding back and neck pain, is keen to raise awareness of the many factors that contribute to the frequency and severity of cyclists’ injuries as it has been estimated that between - percent of cyclists will get back pain when carrying out the activity. Many of these injuries can be prevented with careful management, which can contribute to ensuring that cyclists have an enjoyable and healthy experience whether or not they are taking the sport up on a competitive basis or as a leisure activity. Back pain from cycling can be caused by a number of issues such as a poor riding position; the wrong size or type of bike; wrongly positioned handle bars or saddle; weak muscles; prolonged cycling; or riding rough terrain. The simplest of things can have a large impact on performance levels and avoiding in uries. The factors that contribute to both in ury and the effects of over- training can be body type or size, the use of inappropriate equipment or a combination of both. Within the cycling population, big sprinters experience very different complaints compared with small hill climbers purely due to their body type, hereditary conditions and the type of discipline-specific training they undertake. On the other hand, poor equipment choice will have an impact on back or neck pain. For example, we commonly see very small female cyclists using frame sizes designed for much larger people, with some extremely detrimental results not only regarding injury level, but also on performance. There are a number of simple measures that can be taken to avoid injuries from cycling through education and in respect of the more complex and long-standing issues, interventions from professional experts, such as physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors are desirable. edalling technique can be a significant factor in the development of the most common cycling in uries. The motion of the pedal stroke needs to look and sound smooth and continuous. When the cyclist tries to create an up-stroke this can become in urious. The use of cleats on the pedals will aid proprioception, stopping the foot falling off the pedal. The up-stroke phase of pedalling will bring the psoas and hamstring muscles into play, while in a less-than-optimal length-tension ratio, creating the effect of destabilising the pelvis, reducing the rider s ability to efficiently produce power. On Bike Posture’, showing the need for the cyclist to disassociate their hips to generate leg power. While cycling, a sustained, exed posture can lead to mechanical low back pain. Many cyclists are prone to this as the position places pressure on the front of the spinal discs and keeps posterior sacral ligaments in a lengthened position. It has been shown that adjusting the inclination of the seat as an anterior tilt of between 10 and 15 degrees reduces low back pain in cyclists. Changes to the set up of bikes, along with advice from professional practitioners to identify early signs of low back pain, can help manage this condition. The adoption of pre- habilitation and post-habilitation plans developed by your physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor can be effective in preventing mechanical low back pain becoming an acute or chronic issue. Furthermore, practitioners can advise on how to develop a pedal stroke that is more gluteal dominant during the drive phase, which leads to better performance and injury prevention than the more common ‘hamstring drag’ pedal stroke. A number of cyclists tend to develop pain on the outside aspect of their knee around the knee cap and over the oint line. This is caused by a friction effect of the iliotibial band (a strong connective tissue) rubbing the bursal structures small uid-filled sacs that sit between the iliotibial band and the bone. The pain is the result of the knee being at the wrong angle. The knee needs to be positioned with no less t