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TRIA is a leader in orthopaedic treatment, providing comprehensive care from diagnosis, to treatment, to rehabilitation, even surgery at one convenient location in Bloomington, Minnesota.
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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

Ask The TRIA Orthopaedic Surgeon

May 4, 2009

As cyclists, we often experience pains that seem to come out of nowhere. Since the majority of us are not sports medicine or orthopaedic experts, we typically will either ride with the pain or stop riding altogether. Neither does any good for our cycling psyche, but, as untrained medical professionals, our options seem limited.

We are proud to offer the devoted readers a forum for these specific issues. Today, we’ll get the ball rolling with one popular question that plagues cyclists of all ages and skill levels. In the future, feel free to leave a comment and ask a question that we can answer here on the blog.

Our first question deals with lower back pain (LBP) and long-distance rides. So often, on rides longer than twenty miles, we experience some lower back pain. It’s troubling, but most of us can’t figure out why it’s there or where it’s coming from.

Thankfully, we have a TRIA Orthopaedic surgeon on board to answer this question, as well as all our questions in the future. For this particular question, Marc Swiontkowski, M.D. has provided us an answer to the question that has plagued us all, at one time or another, during our cycling career. Here’s what Dr. Swiontkowski has to say:

The way to avoid LBP on longer distance rides has several components. The first is to make sure you are set up on your bike correctly. A frame that fits accompanied by appropriate seat height adjustment, correct crank arm lengths, a well fit stem (the part that the handle bars attach to) with an aero bar extension will provide the best biomechanical situation for your back. Your local bike shop can help you be sure that your fittings and equipment are correct for you. Frequent rotation of hand positions around the handlebars and aero extensions will help take the strain off the back as well. Finally, standing out of the saddle for 60 seconds or so, 4-5 times an hour will help your back from becoming sore. Nothing can substitute for training miles though, and an available hot tub after the ride will fix what ails you.

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Get Strong, Ride Stronger

April 18, 2009

Strength Training
Dr. Josh Sandell
Spine and Sports Institute

The risk of injury is an ever-present aspect of cycling, but almost every great performance follows a long period of relatively uninterrupted training. Though many athletes believe either that an injury is just a normal part of training or an unfortunate random event, the frequency of injuries may be dramatically reduced by an injury prevention program that develops strength, flexibility, and elasticity in tissues that are at high risk for injuries. Use this program to prepare your body fully for the high-volume/high-intensity training that will come later in the season.

Strength Training

Strength training is a critical aspect of injury prevention, affecting the connective tissues and the muscles. Since cycling actions occur primarily in a single plane, the tissues that act in that plane become disproportionately strong while those that act side-to-side atrophy.

Programs developed only for performance enhancement usually neglect tissues that act laterally, therefore increasing the risk of injury. Several muscles that are neglected in strength training programs are the hip abductors, hip adductors, and the ankle dorsiflexors. When performing the weight training exercises, use relatively heavy weights and slow movements. Keep the duration of each set between 40 and 60 seconds.

Strength training can be accomplished by simply using your own body weight with the use of physio balls and balance trainers. These exercises should be performed slow and controlled with the use of rotational movement and frontal plane movements.

We’ll have some more information down the road about ability-appropriate workouts geared toward both the recreational and the racing cyclist, so stay tuned!

GET ON YOUR BIKES AND RIDE!

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Nipping Injury in the Bud

April 9, 2009

Injury Prevention 101 – Flexibility
By Dr. Josh Sandell
Spine and Sports Institute

Flexibility

The Australian triathlon team was screened in November 2003 prior to the World Championships in New Zealand, and found two main predisposing factors to injury: thoracic spine stiffness and tight hip flexors.

This pattern is extremely common in cyclists. Cycling training is one potential cause of thoracic stiffness because of the time spent in the time-trial position. If good spinal posture is not maintained on the bike, the thoracic spine can become excessively hunched when the cyclist becomes fatigued. If this posture is not corrected and the mid-spine is not regularly stretched, stiffness can develop and a drop in cycling performance may follow as a result of the athlete adopting a less efficient aerodynamic position.

The thoracic spine’s mobility can be improved with lying on your back over a physioball or lying on one’s back with a towel on the floor.

Tight hip flexors are a major injury risk factor and are a common problem because of the length of time cyclists spend with the hip bent in the time-trial position while cycling. Low back injuries, hamstring strains, hip flexor strains and lower limb overuse injuries can be linked to tight hip flexors. Hip flexor and quadriceps stretching are essential to prevent this pattern from developing.

The muscle groups should be stretched daily, before and after activity (especially after cycling). Stretches should be held for approximately 30 seconds to one minute without bouncing, performed gently and slowly to the point of tension but never pain.
While an effective stretching program may reduce injuries, many athletes look to stretching as the answer to injuries. Athletes do become injured because of over flexibility. Be consistent with your stretching, but don’t go to extremes and don’t look to it as the injury cure-all.

Our next post will deal with strength training and injury prevention

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