When I give talks on injury prevention to cyclists, we focus on preventing neck pain and numbness while cycling. Preventing neck pain and numbness are the top goals of many cyclists early in the season. As the season trudges on, those of us who have put a lot of miles on are starting to feel the weak and plainly old parts of our bodies.
If your neck tends to give you trouble on the bike, there are several factors to play with. First, please make sure you have a good bike fitting. There are two bike fitters in the area that consistently get awesome reviews from my patients. Chris Balser at Penn Cycle in Minnetonka and Maple Grove Cycling both have bike fitters that are worth their weight in gold. Simple changes like changing out a stem, raising your handlebars or lowering your seat can make a world of difference in how much you enjoy cycling and how far you can ride without pain and numbness. It is worth it to spend a little money with a bike fit expert to focus on preventing neck pain and numbness while cycling. It will save you from creating larger problems later that will require more time and money to fix.
If you are having neck pain, I have a couple simple form tips. First, make sure your shoulder blades are engaged and that you are holding them back and down (away from your ears). Not only will you have more neck pain by cycling in an extreme forward position, if you have a rotator cuff or shoulder problem, rounded shoulders don’t make it better. Also, think about whether or not you have your head cocked back too far. I am all for looking forward versus down, however, there is a happy medium when it comes to extreme extension of your neck. Odds are, by engaging your shoulder blades, you have already helped your neck be in a better posture and this won’t be an issue.
As for hand numbness, equipment changes such as making sure your bike gloves have padding built for the bike you are riding is important. This is especially the case for the gear junkies like me who have multiple bikes. Different bikes need different gloves to take the pressure off. If you are riding a road bike, also make sure you have good tape on your handle bars. If you have just started to noticed the numbness, it might be because your gloves or tape are breaking down. If you have more recreational style bikes, I can’t say enough for the figure 8 handle bars I have seen on the bike trail. I’m sure it takes a lot to get used to them however, it has to help people with upper extremity pain so much by letting them vary their hand position on the handlebars.
There are definitely other things that can cause neck pain and numbness while cycling. To prevent that means to correct the problem causing the pain. Frequently, those of us who are involved in adult athletics but have sedentary jobs during the day have a lot of neck pain and stiff shoulder problems. If you log plenty of screen time at work, you know what I am talking about.
Problems with the alignment or movement patterns of your spine can set you up to have problems that other cyclists don’t. The common attitude is that if I just ignore it or back off on my miles, it will go away. Often this makes it take longer to heal and costs more money to treat. On top of this, sometimes neck pain and numbness can be a cervical disc problem that needs more intensive treatment. Only a licensed doctor can know for sure. Chiropractors are specially trained to diagnose and treat conditions such as these. If you want to live an active and healthy life, it is important to stay on top of potential problems before they get to be big looming problems. If you have questions about your neck pain and numbness and how it is affecting your cycling or anything else, call me. I would be happy to help.
Those who love the sport are familiar with back pain from golf. As you can see in the picture, with the extreme rotation, a lot of stress is placed on your spine. Even a casual golfer on a par 3 is taking at least 27 swings, plus practice swings plus warm up swings on the range. You can easily put your spine through 150 high speed extreme ranges of motion on the golf course. Considering that, it is no wonder why you have back pain from golf.
There are several things you can do to avoid back pain from golf. The best advice I have is that the healthier you go into the season, the healthier you will come out of the season. If you have an extra 20 or even 40 lbs hanging of the front of your belly, that isn’t a good way to start the season. It intensifies the pressure placed on your spine during your swing. Though I don’t want to minimize the effort it takes to lose weight, its often the easiest and best way to make your back feel better.
Secondly, to avoid back pain from golf, keep your body loose and limber when you play. While I hate walking a course when it is super hot out, walking the course is much better for your back than driving in a cart. It keeps your muscles warm and active. If you ride in a cart for 18 holes, your body doesn’t ever limber up before your swing and once you are back in the cart, it’s another opportunity for it to stiffen up.
Third, stretch when you are done playing. I know that most people like to have a beer with their buddies when they finish their round. However, spending 3-5 minutes stretching after your round will save you a lot of pain later.
If you do find yourself in pain after a round of golf, call me. If we can’t get you in for an appointment right away, please at least ice to keep the inflammation down and walk to keep the mobility.
If you have been in one, you know that back and neck pain from car accidents is no joke. I actually became a chiropractor due to back and neck pain from a car accident. The biggest problem with back and neck pain from car accidents is that due to the traumatic nature of the accident causes a chemical inflammation pathway to become activated that doesn’t end quickly.
After sixteen years of being a chiropractor and treating back and neck pain from car accidents, it is my experience that you don’t know the true scope of an injury for a month. Often the patient feels much worse before they begin to feel better. That is because your body continues to produce inflammatory chemicals that make you feel horrible for the first 4-6 weeks.
Other that seeing a chiropractor, my best recommendations are to walk and ice. The ice calms the inflammation from the injury down and gives you relief from the pain. The walking stimulates your body to produce natural pain killers and also keeps you limber and flexible. It’s only natural to feel like curling up in to a ball after an injury like this and waiting for the pain to stop. This is the worst thing you can possibly do, it will only cause you to be stiffer and create more pain.
Your chiropractor will be able to decide what spinal adjustments, exercises, stretches or taping methods are best for you to heal. They will also be able to tell you what further imaging or referrals you need to feel better.
With car accidents, once you are sure that nothing is broken, get to the chiropractor. The longer you wait, the more pain you will have. As always, you are welcome to call my office with any questions about your back and neck pain from a recent (or not so recent) car accident and talk to me about the best course of action.
Unless you have medical training, it’s difficult to know what the best treatment for injuries is without going to a doctor. While this won’t apply to all possible treatment for injuries, this is the protocol I use in my Plymouth chiropractic office. Also, you should always consult a doctor to have your injury properly diagnosed before following a course of treatment for injuries.
The first question is always, how did you injure yourself? If your injury was traumatic like a car accident, fall or sudden impact, there is always a chance something is broken. At that point we recommend x-rays before and treatment. Most patients who come into my Plymouth chiropractic office for treatment for injuries aren’t in this situation. A lot of time it is something that built slowly over time or “just happened”. In these cases, we skip the imaging unless there is a clinical indicator that it is something other than a musculoskeletal problem.
In the case of your back, we need to do a thorough exam to see how your posture is influencing your problem. In today’s world where people can’t pull their eyes away from a screen, it’s important to evaluate if a forward head posture is putting pressure on your skeleton in ways that it shouldn’t. Your head weighs between 12-15 lbs so if it is sitting forward on your skeleton an inch or four inches in some circumstances, it won’t just cause neck pain. It often causes problems all the way up and down your skeleton.
When you seek treatment for injuries in my Plymouth chiropractic office, we also evaluate how your lifestyle is contributing to your back problem. Are you a mostly sedentary person? Do you sit for work, commute an hour each way and then come home and sit more? Regular exercise and movement throughout the day is critical to feeling good.
As far as actual treatment for injuries, I typically set people up on a regular adjustment program until we can make changes in how the spine moves and change how the bones articulate with each other. Once we see what changes from that, I can make better recommendations involving stretches and exercises. In the beginning phase of a back injury, I typically recommend a lot of ice and walking.
The good news, if my patients adhere to the treatment plan we set up, especially the first month of it, we see great results. If you have questions on whether or not, chiropractic can help your injuries, call my office and speak to me directly.
I am frequently asked in my clinic “my neck hurts when I wake up. Why??” Frequently my new patients often have fingers that go numb or even whole hands.
My first question to them is, “what kind of pillow are you sleeping on?” If you are sleeping on a flat pillow that is simply foam or feathers, you need a new one. Why? Flat foam pillows tend not to have the proper shape that supports your neck. Some foam pillows are molded, those are different. If your pillow has a neck roll that supports your neck and allows your head to drop back into extension, those are great if you are a back sleeper. If you are a side sleeper they can cause you issues. Feather pillows tend to bunch up in all the wrong places as you sleep and lose their support in all of the areas your neck and head need support.
How should you then pick a pillow? If you are one of my patients, I have a demonstration pillow in my office. Ask me to see it and explain what to look for when purchasing a new pillow.
If you are a stomach sleeper, no wonder why your neck hurts when you wake up. No pillow in the world is going to make it better. You need to learn new sleeping habits to help your neck. Lying on your belly with your head rotated to one side all night is going to cause imbalances in your neck with one side of your neck muscles growing really contracted and the other side too stretched out.
If you sleep on your side, you need a thicker pillow. A high density foam that is the same thickness as the distance between the side of your head and the outside edge of your shoulder will be the best choice. That will fully support your head so that it isn’t tilting to the side all night squeezing and pinching off your nerves.
If you are a back sleeper, you need a pillow with a neck roll built in to support the curve in your neck adequately. These pillows allow your head to remain in neutral which means your neck is a little extended. That will keep your nerves happy while you sleep and keep the tension off of them resulting in less tight muscles when you wake up.
What do I sleep on? Well, just like running shoes, pillows are very individual. What you love one week, you may detest the next. I have three that I rotate between. One is a custom measured pillow that we sell in my office. The second is a tempurpedic memory foam pillow that I purchased at Brookstone and my new favorite addition to my collection is one from the Sleep Number Store at Ridgedale. It is a cooling memory foam with a neck roll that is a little bit thicker than most and also supports side sleepers. I find that if you have a cranky difficult neck, you are well served by changing your pillow every year.
As always, if you have neck pain when you wake up, you need to have yourself evaluated by a chiropractor. Good pillows are helpful but they don’t correct the bad movement patterns, imbalances and poor alignment causing the problem in the first place. You can always call our Plymouth chiropractic office for advice at 763-553-0387
When patients come to my office with a lower back injury, they want to know, “Why is pain shooting down my leg from my back?” There are often multiple reasons this can happen and to treat a person with back and leg pain, you need to properly diagnose the problem.
The most common reason the pain or numbness or even tingling will be shooting down your leg from your back is that you are having a disc problem in your lower back. Disc problems such as, disc bulges, inflamed discs due to injury, disc herniations, disc extrusions are all very painful. The good news is that research shows that after twelve months, patient outcomes are basically the statistically the same whether the patient has conservative care such as chiropractic manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustments) or surgery. The bad news is that regardless of what option you pick for yourself, it can take a long time to heal. If you have a disc problem, it as usually a long time coming. Typically you would have weak muscles and inflexibility for a long time that went without stretching or strengthening and also poor movement patterns in your spine involving your vertebrae that placed extra stress on joints that weren’t designed to take it.
You can also have tight muscles that compress or entrap nerves. This can happen with your piriformis, hip flexors such as your psoas muscle and even your hamstrings. As muscles start to bunch up and the muscle fibers adhere together forming scar tissue it then starts to wrap up the nerve fibers and create additional compression on your nerves. A good chiropractor should be able to adequately diagnosis what is pinching on your nerve and causing you pain.
If you are having an episode of this, get an ice pack out of the freezer and call us. We will be able to diagnose your problem correctly. Do not heat your injury or you will get even more inflamed. Please remember when you visit your chiropractor to have realistic expectations. Any back problem that is extending into your leg, is not going to go away over night. You will need regular and frequent care to feel better for the long term.
This is the time of year where I get the most calls of people having back pain from yard work. If you have been a relative couch potato all winter and then got outside this weekend and dug a bunch of holes, tilled the garden and raked leaves, it is probably pretty obvious why your back hurts. Allowing yourself to become deconditioned and then doing repetitive activities you haven’t done for months hurts.
If you are relatively fit and work out regularly, working in the yard is just one of those facts of life that tend to aggravate any weak spot you already have in your spine. Unlike working out at the gym, the forces on your body in the yard are less predictable ( how much force will it take to pull that tree root out? Lots and then none as you careen backwards). The tasks involve unexpected resistance ( we have all been digging holes and hit rocks sending reverberations all the way up our skeletons). Yard projects also tend to last longer than workouts and I know that I try just to rush through them without taking breaks to stretch.
Odds are, you have already tweaked yourself and are experiencing your own back pain from yard work or you wouldn’t be reading this so call our office and schedule an appointment. Also, please start icing and don’t dare put heat on it.
To prevent future back pain from yard work, here are some tips I have learned over the years. First, if you have a big project like a great big truck of wood chips that you want to install, commit to doing it for an hour and then taking a break. I also am impatient and when I decide to do something I want it done yesterday. That personality has not served me well over the years when it comes to yard work. One hour, then take a break and kick your feet up, stretch a little, drink a lemonade and see how you feel before you go back to hour number two. Do this every hour. Six hours of doing repetitious activities that your body isn’t used to will hurt anyone.
Also, please identify your weak spots of your body and stretch them after you do your yard work. I am not suggesting a 45 minute stretch session, but 3-4 stretches on the parts that you already know will bother you the most. Don’t have a weak link on that body of yours? Yeah right, we all have one. If you really think that, you aren’t paying enough attention to your tight muscles. Those are my people who really get hurt when they hurt themselves because they don’t pay attention to the warning signs of an oncoming injury.
As always, our Plymouth Chiropractic office is here to help. If you have questions or have hurt yourself, call us.
If you have ever flown in an airplane, you have had pain while traveling. Mental and physical pain, probably. I am currently writing this from the seat of the most uncomfortable airplane seat ever built and experiencing pain while traveling first hand from my least favorite airline, United.
Traveling is painful now. The leg room has shrunk, to compensate for this, they have taken all the cushion out of the seat that would typically absorb shock before it transmits into your spine from the molded plastic. If you can sit on your jacket or find a merciful flight attendant that will give you a blanket, that is your best bet for a quick fix.
I have become a big fan of aisle seats on airplanes. Even though I am relatively short, they simply give you more room to stretch out. They also let you get up more frequently to stretch out and walk around without the dirty looks of the poor sleeping person sitting next to you.
For long haul flights, the C-shaped neck pillows are invaluable. I find it nearly impossible to sleep on a plane without it. They simply allow your head to rest. If you get stuck in a window seat, they are great for cramming up against the window so you aren’t getting the window shade jabbed into your head.
Since airports usually involve long walks with luggage trailing behind you, remember to pause before yanking it out of the car and think before you lift as well as switch it from side to side so you don’t end up with one sided pain that could be prevented. I am a big fan of packing light, it will definitely cut down on the luggage injuries!
If you have recently returned from vacation or business travels an your back is sore and you don’t know what to do, call our Plymouth chiropractic office. We are here to help.
If you find yourself waking up with neck pain and numbness, I have a few helpful tips for you.
First of all, evaluate your sleeping posture. If you prefer to sleep on your back, you need a pillow with the support (neck roll) under your neck. The bulk of the pillow should not be under your head. If your preference is to sleep on your side, you need a thicker pillow to keep your head in line with your neck. If you are sleeping on a feather pillow that flattens out during the night or a thin foam pillow, that isn’t going to work. You will spend a lot of the night with your head tilted towards the bed pinching off the nerves that exit your spine. That causes you to wake up with neck pain and numbness.
Secondly, I really like to read at night before I go to bed. It’s a nice little ritual that helps me wind down from my day and makes me tired. I found a pillow at The General Store in Minnetonka off of Highway 7 that is perfect for holding a kindle or a book. It even has a nice pocket for my reading glasses. It is shaped like a pyramid and has a little ridge around it the reader sits within. For those of you who like books, it also has a long tassel to keep your page. You can keep it on your lap, your table or take it to bed. It keeps the book at an angle so your head isn’t constantly looking down.
Thirdly, ask yourself why you have neck pain and headaches. Have you left a problem untreated for years only for your muscular imbalances to worsen? Do you spend endless hours on devices such as laptops, phone and tablets?
It’s important to ask yourself what shape you want your spine to be in 5 years from now. If the answer is better than it is right now, you need to change your device habits and also find a chiropractor so that you can correct the damage that years of looking forward and down have caused.