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Back pain in cyclists is relatively common, and it can be caused by a variety of factors, along with bike fit, training background, personal health conditions, riding technique, and what you do in your everyday life off the bike. Back pain is common among cyclists. Cycling has a low injury rate when compared to other sports, but riders should always take care of their backs. Cycling is an excellent form of exercise, and most cyclists with low back discomfort can overcome it if the source of their problem is identified.

Considering how difficult your legs work on the bike, it’s reasonable to believe that your knees would be the most prone to an overuse injury. Surprisingly, the study contradicts this. The most common cause of knee discomfort in cyclists appears to be lower back pain.

A Norwegian study (Clarsen et al., 2010) shows:

  • Lower back problems accounted for 45% of all injuries.
  • Knee injuries accounted for 23% of all injuries.
  • In the past 12 months, 58% of all bikers had suffered lower-back pain.
  • Back pain had caused 41% of all bikers to seek medical help.

These findings are surprising since cycling is a low-impact sport that is frequently suggested for back pain sufferers. So, why is lower-back pain so widespread among long-distance cyclists?

DON’T PUT THE BLAME ON THE BIKE !

Bike setup is critical for back health. However, since the professional cyclists in the previous research were monitored by national trainers with accessibility to advanced facilities, poor bike geometry was unlikely to be a concern. What else could it be? Muscle fatigue, according to certain studies, may play a role.

As bikers pedaled to exhaustion, their hamstrings and calf muscles become increasingly exhausted. Surprisingly, this tiredness appeared to cause unfavorable alterations in muscle activity patterns, which eventually had an impact on the back. Specifically, how the riders’ knees were spread out and how far their lumbar area was bent forward. In a word, when these riders’ legs became tired, their spinal posture worsened.

Focusing on the transverse abdominis (muscles that wrap around your belly horizontally like a corset) and multifidus (the muscles running vertically along your spine). These muscles act as guy wires to stabilize you in the saddle.

Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation released a research in 2015 investigated the strength of these muscles was compared in a group of mountain cyclists who had and didn’t have lower back pain. It shows the cyclists with pain had less developed transverse abdominals and lumbar multifidus spinae, resulting in poorer back endurance.

The pelvis, rather than the back, is frequently to blame. You should be able to sit comfortably in the saddle with your pelvis in the correct position (slight forward tilt position). So that you can keep your spine in a neutral, non-overly bent position. Many bikers are inflexible and suffer from significant muscular imbalances in general (dominant quadriceps, tight psoas, weak glutes). All of these can lead to improper pelvic alignment and discomfort in the lower back.

Do you experience any back discomfort or tightness in the lower limb during your ride?

Contact us to improve your ride journey !

www.physioclinic.sg | Call: 62244178 | WhatsApp or SMS: 91510068 | Email: info@physioclinic.sg 

Clarsen, B., Krosshaug, T., & Bahr, R. (2010, December). Overuse injuries in professional road cyclists. The American journal of sports medicine. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20847225/

Cyclist Neck syndrome

Human were not made to ride bicycles; for starters, we were designed to walk.

Cycling not only disrupts the weight distribution of your spine and muscle, but it also force your back and neck to bend in an unnatural way.

The neck must compensate in particular so that you can see where you’re going. It’s no surprise that neck muscle are fatigued and irritated in a bad riding position; it’s like standing and look up into sky for hours !

It’s not a race, it’s a journey ! Become a better cyclist with us !

Neck and back pain are frequently present among cyclists, with up to 60% of them experiencing it. Poor cycling posture or a bad bike fit are the most common causes of neck pain. This entails:

  • Helmet that hasn’t been properly adjusted: If the rider’s helmet is too low in the front, the rider must extend head upward to hold the helmet from blocking the front view.
  • Eyeglasses that don’t fit right: as eyeglasses slipping down the nose, causing rider to extend the head upward
  • low handlebars: forced to reach further when handlebars are too low. This puts excessive pressure on shoulders and causes the neck to extend more.
  • slanted saddle: putting additional weight on the upper limbs
  • fully extended elbow: The impact is not lightened up to the neck region
  • stiff thoracic spine: inducing hyperextension of the cervical spine

When neck is constantly extended, the deep neck extensors could get fatigued and unable to sustain the weight of the head during long cycle hours.

“Shermer’s neck”

Shermer’s neck is a disorder that predominantly affects ultra-endurance cyclists. It was first recognized in 1983. It was named after Michael Shermer, a competitor of a 3,000-mile nonstop bike race from The Race Across America. Shermer’s neck muscles had become so fatigue that they had simply given up. He was unable to hold his head up about 2,000 miles into the race, and he was forced to hold his chin up with his palm to keep going. His team had to build a brace out of bungee cords to keep his head in place where he could see and finish the race.

Even though Shermer’s Neck is not prevalent among average cyclists, It’s still common in ultra-distance bicycle races. Untrained cyclists or beginners who plan to compete in events longer than 300 KM should be aware of the risk of suffering Shermer’s neck. Untrained people are more likely to develop symptoms, hence preventative measures should be done.

If you’ve already had a bike fit and are still experiencing neck discomfort and pain when riding, the issue could be weak neck muscles, alignment of neck, pinched nerve or stiff joints, Maintaining the load of your head for a long time on the bike takes a lot of strength, and your shoulders typically try to compensate as you tired.

Contact us to improve your neck and shoulders for your ride journey !

www.physioclinic.sg | Call: 62244178 | WhatsApp or SMS: 91510068 | Email: info@physioclinic.sg 

How Flexible is Hyperflexible?

Many of us may consider ourselves to be flexible. But how do we differentiate between flexibility and joint hypermobility? Joint hypermobility can be determined by the Beighton Score, a simple joint flexibility score that quantifies your joint laxity.

The Beighton score is a popular screening technique for hypermobility. Component of Beighton score:

Using the Beighton Score, one point is assigned for the ability to accomplish each of the following movements:

  1. Bending your small finger back further than 90 degrees (1 point each side)
  2. Bending your elbow beyond a straight line (1 point each side)
  3. Bending your knee beyond a straight line (1 point each side)
  4. Putting your palms flat on the floor without bending your knees
  5. Bending your thumb back to touch the front of your forearm (1 point each side)

Benign Hypermobility Syndrome is diagnosed when your Beighton score is equal to or greater than 5.

Are flexible people prone to injuries?

Hypermobile joints are unstable in nature due to their increased range of movement and subsequently reduced core stability. When impact occurs, they are not able to direct the force through the joint in a stable manner.

In contact sports this causes joints to be in unstable positions due to their hypermobile nature, and when exposed to physical contact leads to injury. (Pacey V, Tofts L, Wesley A, Collins F, Singh-Grewal D, 2015)

What you should do?

However, hypermobility doesn’t have to be a problem if you train the appropriate muscles; progress your strength and movement to make sure you have the control to match your extra flexibility. Strengthen throughout each joint range of motion in order to improve the stability of the joint externally and muscles/tendon which stabilize the joint. This will help reduce the risk of joint and ligament injuries.

If your hypermobile joints are causing you trouble or you are worried about trying new or intense exercise, book an appointment with us today by 👨‍💼📊📈📁calling 6224 4178 or 9639 0509, or emailing info@physioclinic.sg