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Cycopaths, get Massage for your Cycling Injuries
Cyclists, give yourself that competitive edge through massage
Cyclists, do your muscles ache or feel stiff, tired and heavy? Do your legs feel like lead after a long ride leading to fatigue and severe muscle stiffness? Does your back feel like it could give in at any minute? Don't worry, the answer could be just a phone call away.
If you're crazy about cycling, then I bet you will have had your fair share of sprains, strains and injuries over the years of training. And, if you are serious about your sport, as well as having the best equipment, you'll want to keep yourself in the peak of physical condition, to train ever more efficiently, and hone your body into an athletic cycling machine. Like you call yourselves, cycopaths, or cyclopaths brilliant!
Well it seems that more and more of you are taking the decision to give massage a try and looking to discover the benefits of hands on physical therapy to keep you on track with your training whether endurance, or speed, or both.
What will sports massage do for me?
It will help in keeping your muscles in good condition. Damage, strain, sprain and micro-tearing can build up over time without you noticing, until you push a little too hard one day and sustain ligament damage, tendon pulling off a bone, or a muscle tearing across, or along its length. Because you probably stop exercising quite suddenly after injury, the build up of waste products which are stored within the muscles can become quite high, and this coupled with inflammation can slow down the muscles ability to recover. All of these things combined can be very painful after the event, because you can often not even feel them straight away. Why?
Your body is full of adrenalin, your oxygen is low, your muscles can be full of lactic acid and metabolic debris, you may be tired, your senses are dulled, nerve conductivity is slow and your reaction time reduced. So when an accident occurs you may not even notice it straight away, or you can be unaware of the severity of the damage, and maybe even tempted to carry on, thinking it's not that bad. It's not until after that the reality of the injury sets in and you realize you are in for a long recovery time.
This is when you need to find a good therapist who can help with your rehabilitation and to advise on the best course of action. This will involve, laying the groundwork for improving your 'inner terrain' so that healing can occur in the shortest time. Carrying on with exercises in the rest of your body that will not antagonize, or damage further, the injured or painful area. Using massage, trigger point therapy, positional release techniques and/or neuro-muscular therapy appropriately, to help rebuild the damaged tissue, improve your suppleness and core strength.
How often should I have a sports massage?
That will depend on how much training you are putting in, what events you have coming up and, of course, the financial consideration. A maintenance program for remedial work and to catch potential injuries early, maybe once a month would suffice. But as your training hits the 00's or 000's of miles you will begin to see the toll this is taking on your body and then weekly, or fortnightly may be more appropriate. If you have a big injury to recover from, then look on this as an investment in yourself and make a deal with your therapist to come more regularly for a discount. (Details of my own discount plan are on the appointments page linked below.)
What are some of the cycling injuries that you see in your practice?
Mainly quads, hams, lower back, wrists, shoulders, hips and knee joints are the most susceptible and so should be assessed after every major training session or event.
Cramp happens to every athlete at some time or other. Cramps are caused by a muscle repeating the same motion over and over and then not being able to relax. Regular cramping usually means a cyclist is not drinking enough water, or eating enough of the right foods to keep a good sugar balance. Cramp in the quadriceps, hamstrings or calves are the usual nightmare for cyclists. Stretching, massage and continued exercise are the best solutions at the time.
Iliotibial band syndrome is often referred to as runners knee and Iliotibial band friction syndrome, sometimes shortened to ITBS or ITBFS. The iliotibial band is a strong, thick band of fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of the leg as a stabilizer, which can become inflammed during cycling or running and may become irritated from overuse. Pain is typically felt on the lateral (outside) aspect of the knee or lower thigh, but may also be felt near the hip.
Meniscal Injuries can occur during cycling, often when the knee is twisted, perhaps during a fall, or through degenerative changes with overuse and aging. Symptoms include pain along the inner or outer side of the knee, stiffness, swelling, and sometimes “locking” of the knee. A piece of torn cartilage may 'float' between moving parts of the knee joint and limit motion or lock the joint.
Sciatica. Posture problems are significant when riding a bike and so lumbar pain can often be inevitable for long distance cyclists. Muscle fatigue, irritation and inflammation of ligaments and tendons can result in low back pain and other problems.
Pirformis Syndrome can occur if the piriformis muscle becomes tight or cramps up. This puts pressure on the sciatic nerve which passes underneath the piriformis muscle and sciatica can result. I will be able to show you a stretch you can do yourself to eleviate this problem when you come.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), often called runner's knee, refers to pain under and around the knee cap. While the exact cause of patellofemoral pain isn't known, it's believed to be an overuse injury because the way the patella tracks along the groove of the femur can lead to irritation of the cartilage on the underside of the patella which is resolved with rest.
Achilles Tendonitis is an acute or chronic injury that occurs primarily from overuse of the calf of ankle. It can become chronic when the acute stage fails to heal properly and tends to come on gradually over time. The Achilles tendon has a very limited blood supply, which makes this injury slow to heal and is the reason massage is of benefit here.
Hamstring Strains or a pulled hamstring as it is sometimes called is a tear in one or more of the hamstring muscles. The three specific muscles that make up the hamstrings are the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus, and respond beautifully to massage at the right time in the recovery process.
Pes Anserine Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa (a slippery sac that prevents bone, joints and skin from rubbing together during physical activity) located between the shinbone, or tibia, and the hamstring tendons on the inside of the knee. Usually occurs after excessive, or repetitive physical activity. A sufferer will experience pain, swelling, tenderness and redness on the inside of the knee.
Lower Back Pain is very common in cyclists and I usually find a combination of massage and Spinal Touch (see articles page) is a rapid aid to recovery.
Handlebar Palsy is a common condition suffered by cyclists. The symptoms are caused by compression (through weight displacement) of the ulnar nerve at the wrist against the handlebar. However, nerve compression can also come from irregular posture in the neck or elbow, not just at the wrist.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, although similar to Handlebar Palsy, it is less common and comes from compression of the median nerve at the wrist, rather than the ulnar nerve. It is still sore though, and regularly changing hand position from top of the handle bar to the drop down position and back again, can delay the onset of either condition.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a phenomenon that occurs a day or two after exercise, and produces symptoms of muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness. It's not anything to be alarmed at, but a natural phenomenon of the body trying to heal itself long term. This sort of muscle soreness is not the same as the fatigue or pain you experience during exercise. Generally, it responds fantastically to sports massage of the gentler variety.
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition of the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot and heel caused by micro tearing of the fascial tissue. Pain during the first steps of the morning and pain in the heel upon weight bearing are the classic signs. This condition can be a long time in recovery, but is helped mightily by massage to the lower leg and foot.
Overtraining Syndrome occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body's ability to recover.
Remember: The most important nut on a bike is the one holding the handelbars and pushing the pedals. You maintain your bike with tender care and expensive spares. Don't forget to give yourself the same consideration. All serious cyclists should factor in Sports Massage to their training program and events diary.
My message to all cycopaths is simple; Cycling is among the best of all sporting activities because it gives you a great cardiovascular workout and strengthens your legs and other muscles all over the body. But there are times when that extra run, that ultra-intense workout, just pushes you over the edge and an internal, overuse injury shows up, or a bad fall can result in external injury and internal muscle/tendon or ligament damage. This can set you back weeks of training. By far, the best, and fastest way to recover from a cycling injury is to have regular massages throughout your training. That way, small injuries can be detected and treated early, and large injuries can be treated to enhance rapid recovery. If this idea resonates with you, I invite you to visit The Haven Healing Centre in Blagdon for a course of treatments and massages. Appointments and a treatment price list are available by clicking here. I look forward to welcoming you soon. Phil.
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Note: DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.
It's a small investment in yourself, but could be a life-changing experience you will cherish forever.
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