... A sport I’ve tried my best to wrap my head around for a long time, but for the life of me I just can’t understand the appeal.
It’s a culture unto its own.
From getting up at ungodly hours in the dark, squeezing into some brightly coloured Lycra (often leaving little to the imagination) and punching out a few hours on the road dodging cars, all before breakfast.
I’ve tried my best but just can’t get into it, hats off to you mob that genuinely enjoy it. The only thing I can relate to is the post ride latte.
But hey, I’m all for exercise and getting people moving so if you fit the mould go for gold.
That being said, cyclists tend to get a fair few injuries, and not just from the bastard neighbourhood magpie/plover.
Any cyclical activity (cycling, swimming, running) has the potential for things to creep up slowly like compound interest.
Little niggles can build and build until merely the thought of your 1kg carbon fibre frame with wheels makes your knee ache. So to keep you on the road longer (much to the annoyance of local territorial birds) here are some tips to staying healthy.
Zipties in the helmet – magpie repellent. I really don’t know the effectiveness of this, or if there’s actually any data to back it up, but I’ll be damned if you don’t look stylish in those helmets.
Make sure the bike fits you; have a PhysioBikeFit – Each person has a “window of function” regarding the shape and size of the bike, meaning there are no exact measurements. Some riders will need to change their set-up during a season as they get fitter and stronger. If the body fits the bike, and is well conditioned, there is less pain, overload, and need for recovery. With direction from your physio’s assessment, your body can be adapted and changed for the better.
Have a great pedalling technique – Efficient pedalling not only allows you to go faster for longer, but also shares the load, preventing specific overload of any one joint or area of tissue and minimising discomfort. Which means less energy spent, stronger and quicker rides and a reduced risk of injury. Win, win, win.
Vary your riding – There’s no need to ‘go hard or go home’ every day – There is a tendency for Australian cyclists to compete and ride hard all the time. Not even pros ride hard every day, nor should you. The day after a long, hard riding session should be easy, with high cadence, low resistance pedalling. Even at the end of a hard ride you should have 15-30 minutes of easy pedalling to recover your legs and flush out the lactic acid build-up.
Warm it up – If you are suffering from stiffness or soreness, your technique may suffer. Especially those chilly winter morning rides. Also, cold muscle is more likely to be injured. The best warm-up is to allow your blood to circulate, warming the tissues. Build easy into your cycle by pedalling easy to begin with.
Strength and Conditioning – having a great well rounded strength program will compliment your riding immensely. Talk to your physio about a good program that includes both upper and lower body exercises, targeting any specific weaknesses identified
Lifestyle - Target sleep, stress, diet and alcohol, general health can really affect your ability to perform and recover. A lack of sleep increases the risk of stress fractures by 300%; stress makes you more likely to be injured, and slows recovery from injury and also those tough rides.
Diet – Eat to fuel performance. Our bodies can probably handle one hour without food, but from the second hour onwards it requires 50-100mg of carbohydrate per hour. Protein after a ride is a great idea for recovery.
Have a strong and consistent recovery routine – Muscles can become sore due to inflammation and tightening of the fibres, with lactic acid build up a by-product of exercise. Gentle stretching and self-massage helps to remedy this, a spikey ball and foam roller are essential. Using cold or hot-cold therapy, like walking in the sea or hot-cold showers.
Physio and Massage – Along with a good recovery routine, checking in regularly with your physio/massage therapist is a great way to keep on top of any niggles, aches and pains. And to make sure the body is functioning as it’s meant to.
If you or someone you know loves to punch out kilometres like Cadell Evans, be sure to take note of these tips. It could be the difference to being on the road or watching your bike collecting dust in the garage. With any sport it’s essential to stay as healthy and injury free as possible, otherwise what’s the point right? So take care on the road you crazy cyclists.
Stay tuned for another article from the Queen Street Physiotherapy team soon
In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding this interview, treatment of cycling injuries or other health issues please do not hesitate to contact Donovan and the rest of the team by visiting the Queen Street Physiotherapy website.
Queen St Physiotherapy offers ergonomic advice, custom made orthotics, running assessment, hydrotherapy, dry needling, remedial massage, exercise and stretching programs.