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Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Preventing Neck Pain and Numbness While Cycling

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016


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.

Chiropractic Treatment for IT Band Syndrome

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Many athletes come to me for chiropractic treatment for IT band syndrome. Often their pain starts on the outside of their knee but they know their back and hip mechanics aren’t good either.

First of all, what is your IT band? It’s the band of connective tissue that starts on your Ilium (the side ridge of your pelvis) and runs down the side of your leg and then attaches into the weight bearing bone of your lower leg (your tibia) near your knee.

IT band syndrome is very common in runners and cyclists. If their core stability isn’t strong to hold their pelvis in neutral as they run, they start shifting their hips to one side with every stroke.

When someone comes to my office for chiropractic treatment of IT band syndrome, I start by assessing their low back mechanics. I also check the mobility of their hips (the actual femoral heads) and then I use my especially sharp and pointy fingers to locate big pieces of scar tissue in the IT band and surrounding muscles.

Is it fun? No. Is it effective? Yes. Does it help? Absolutely.

If you are having problems with your IT band, call us today to find out what your treatment options are.

Workout Snacks by Health Guru Jina Schaefer

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Discover Health

Looking for healthy workout snacks?  More and more of my clients struggle to find more natural food choices to keep them fueled during or after an endurance event or longer training sessions (over 60 minutes) since most of the options seem pretty processed. When it comes to endurance events or longer training sessions, it’s best to stay hydrated and fueled. Think replenish instead of replace. Below are some ideas for you to stay fueled and hydrated during and right after your endurance event:
• Frozen grapes are sweet and refreshing and can easily be carried with you in a small sandwich bag. They are also easy to eat on the go. To prepare the grapes, cut them in half and then freeze. During the event or training session when you are ready for a snack, pop one in your mouth and slowly eat. It’s like a snack and a bit of water rolled into one!
• If you like to use energy gels an alternative would be some local, natural honey. Not only will it help you refuel, but it will also give your immunity a boost.
• To replace electrolytes after a longer training session or event, replenish your body with 100% natural coconut water Instead of Gatorade, Powerade or other juice. These drinks can be loaded with artificial sweeteners among other questionable things.
Your body can process about 200-300 calories into energy per hour. Think of this when determining portion sizes and how often you should eat during the event or training session.

Jina Schaefer, founder of Discover Health, has been helping people reach their wellness and weight loss goals since 2002. Check out her company’s website for more information on Jina and her programs.

Hitting the Plymouth Bike Trails?

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Most of us spend more time working on the front of our bodies than the back. Blame it on only being able to see the front of yourself in the mirror…maybe.  You see proof of this when you stand up and instead of the palms of your hand facing in front of you or even towards your legs, they face behind you. Blame it on long hours spent driving, reaching towards your computer or a big desire to build up your pecs while not spending the same amount of energy doing back exercises.

While it is very common to have upper body imbalances, it is just as common to find someone who has overactive quads and under active hamstrings. Some of these problems are caused by the hamstrings being too tight and shutting down—yes—stretching does help this. I have seen men who couldn’t bring their hands to their knees be able to reach their mid calves with consistent effort over time. Flexibility is definitely something you can recover as you age, IF you work on it.

It is really common for cyclists to have these imbalances. It is critical that if you are going on long rides, that you are using your hamstrings to pull your pedals up instead of only pushing down with your quads. This can really only happen effectively if you are clipped in to your bike. If you have been free-pedaling with your tennis shoes and that sounds too intimidating, start with cages. Eventually it’s going to be important to transition from cages to clips, especially if you are going over 25 miles. Regardless of how you are contacting your bike, make sure there is push and pull through all parts of your pedal stroke.

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