Physical Therapy for biking pain

Bike stores have increased the selling point of the proper fit of a bike.  They are correct in this; a bike needs to properly fit your body and your biking style to give you the most pleasant ride.  Whether you ride mountain bike, road bike or a trail bike, there is a chance that you will develop some pain throughout the summer season.  Bikers can get pain in a lot of different areas of the body.  A few examples of hot spots that tend to be problematic are neck, shoulders, hands, low back, hip, knee and ankle.  Bike shops will claim to be able to fix these problems, but the more appropriate solution would be getting input from the bike shop in addition to that of a doctor of physical therapyPhysical therapists are musculoskeletal specialists and are experts in movement.  They have a complete understanding of the body’s muscles and bones and how they work together.  They also have extensive education to help them identify when something more serious is going on.  Keep reading to get a better understanding of what can go wrong and cause the pain you may be experiencing.

What causes the pain

The short answer is; there are a lot of contributing factors.  Some of the more general problems are muscle weakness, or overuse.  Starting off the season too hard can start the pain.  This can often cause ankle, knee or hip pain.  The overuse causes a higher level of tissue damage to the point where it can cause a tendonitis.  Neck and low back pain are often the products of poor core strength and poor posture.  Core strength includes the muscles that support the spine.  Icing the areas while taking over the counter anti-inflammatory can help reduce the pain but they are not fixing the problem.  Bike riders will occasionally experience numbness and/or tingling in their hands.  This tends to originate from problems at the wrist, and could be a symptom of compression of the ulnar nerve.  The numbness and tingling are most commonly caused by the wrist position and the weight applied through them.  These causes are general descriptions to give some understanding, but each injury is specific to each individual and the exact causes can be determined following a physical therapy evaluation.

Signs and Symptoms of common bike pain

  • Neck pain; pain with looking over your shoulder
  • Shoulder pain
  • Wrist pain; numbness and tingling in the hand
  • Low back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Knee pain
  • Ankle or foot pain; also foot numbness and tingling

Physical Therapy

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Physical therapy will begin by performing a complete and comprehensive evaluation.  They will incorporate the information you provide with the findings of your physical examination.  They will assess your muscular strength, skeletal alignment and tissue condition.  The physical therapist will use their hands to examine specific and separate tissues at the painful site and around it.  After gathering all of the information they will identify the source of the problem and develop a personalized plan of care to treat your pain and to get you back riding as soon as possible.

Physical therapy treatments can be expected to include strengthening and stretching.  It will also likely utilize some modalities like moist heat, electric stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound to reduce pain and increase the rate of healing.  Depending on your diagnosis you may also receive postural education.  The physical therapist can perform a tissue mobilization, similar to massage, to tissues that can be contributing to your problems.  A physical therapist who has an interest in biking may be able to make suggestions with regards to the way you are positioned on your bike and the bike set up.

Physical therapists are experts with muscles, bones and how the body moves.  They will treat your individual situation, they will help you recover at a faster rate and they will help you prevent future issues from ever arising.  If you, or someone you know, is riding bike and having pain with it, then schedule a visit with a doctor of physical therapy.  Biking is something to enjoy, not something to cause you discomfort.  Get back to enjoying going out for a ride.

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