Being cooped up due to COVID-19 with summer and warm weather upon us makes this prime bicycling weather to get out of the house while maintaining social distancing. Many Americans take to the roads and sidewalks each year to go biking for leisure and exercise. Approximately 467,000 Americans end up in the ER each year due to injuries that occur while biking. Most of these injuries can be prevented with the help of a Physical Therapist!
As Doctors of Physical Therapy, we strive to lower injury rates by providing preventative measures so cyclists can enjoy bicycling as well as being safe and pain free on their rides. Cycling requires dynamic bursts of strength and speed which sometimes throw the body out of balance, creating strain of the muscles and injuries. The most common biking associated injuries include cervical and back pain, knee pain, sprains and tendonitis of the ankle and knees, sprains of the calf muscles and concussions. Part of building stronger athletes is introducing behavioral changes to help the athlete sustain their own health, including stretching, strength conditioning and making sure their bike is appropriately fitted.
A Doctor of Physical Therapy can help with one of the most common biking injuries, back pain, by assessing the level of your bike seat, the position of the handlebars and extension in the knees. Often bikes are too big for the rider which causes back pain from poor alignment of the spine or changing gears when climbing hills. The angle of your back in relation to the bike can increase or decrease the strain on your back. A DPT can assess for proper flexibility of hamstrings and core strength weakness, as both are common with back pain in cycling. Another thing DPT’s can assess and provide is alternative climbing positions when going up hills such as standing up or changing the angle of the back to decrease stress and decrease pain during long bike rides.
Poor spinal health is often due to poor posture, both on and off the bike, and can cause increased injury. Much of cycling is hunching forward and so is most of our day to day lives: working on the computer, eating dinner, watching TV and looking at our phones, which all contribute to poor posture! A Doctor of Physical Therapy will create a custom program to meet your needs including strengthening of the back, core, and neck muscles and stretching of the back, shoulders and legs.
When you get on your bike to enjoy this summer weather, remember to be safe and stretch to avoid injuries. If you get off your bike in more pain rather than a feeling of a good workout, consider contacting a physical therapist at In Touch Physical Therapy to get you back in gear!