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A Bicyclist’s Guide to Chiropractic Care

chiropractor in Wilmington NCThere’s no doubt about it—biking can take a real toll on the body, whether you’re a recreational or competitive cyclist.  A burning sensation in the shoulders, numbness in the arms and hands, and tightness in the neck are just a few of the common “aches and pains” that many riders deal with.  Not to mention frequent upper and lower back pain.  While it might be tempting to ignore these types of symptoms and “pedal through it” when they first appear, they often recur and can eventually lead to chronic musculoskeletal pain.  This in turn can seriously interfere with both training and enjoyment of the sport.

Can a chiropractic physician help cyclists with these kinds of problems?  Absolutely!  In addition, chiropractors can also help prevent future injuries and even enhance performance—speed, strength and stamina—for healthy cyclists.  In fact, athletes of all kinds can benefit from the advice and treatment of a well-trained, experienced chiropractor—especially one who specializes in sports and understands the importance of biomechanics in a real-world athletic setting.

In addition to being experts at diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems, chiropractors have unique knowledge and skills that are particularly useful in working with cyclists.  In fact, a combination of general and specialized training and experience are essential to successful treatment because everything in cycling is interconnected: the nerves, the bones, the muscles, and the joints.  In most cases, all of these elements must be addressed in a holistic way by a systematic treatment plan in order to get good, lasting results.  This is one reason why a chiropractor who specializes in sports medicine will probably have the most to offer you as a cyclist.  They will also work with adjunct professionals such as sports trainers or physical therapists as needed to address your particular needs.

Solutions to problems cyclists commonly experience will likely be multi-dimensional.  That is, they may involve a combination of adjustments, deep tissue massage, exercises, and stretches. will likely be required.  For example, if a cyclist is suffering from lower back pain, it may be due to hip rotation.  An adjustment of the sacroiliac joints will be quite helpful, but appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises will also be needed to address the weakness and tightness in the muscles that affect the hip joints.  Strengthening exercises will contribute stability to the joint, while stretching will help to lengthen the muscles in the region, thus preventing them from contracting when stressed.

While a qualified chiropractor can be a valuable partner in helping patients recover from cycling-related injuries and pain, the cyclist must also do his or her part to make a treatment plan successful.  In the same way that the athlete needs to actually execute a training program for it to be effective, he or she must also take responsibility for the at-home aspects of any treatment plan for it to achieve results.  If you do not complete the prescribed stretching and strengthening exercises at home, you may not get the relief you expect.

Finally, a sports chiropractor will also likely be able to help you professionally fit your bicycle to maximize your efficiency and to minimize the unnecessary strain on your body.  Bicycle size, seat placement, handlebar height, and cycling posture all have a significant impact on both performance and stress on the body.  In much the same way that runners benefit from gait analysis, cyclists benefit from an insightful analysis of riding mechanics.

Contact Southeastern Healthcare for a Chiropractor in Wilmington NC!

If you or someone you know is an avid cyclist who wants to ride healthier, perform better and enjoy the sport longer, our chiropractor in Wilmington NC can help!  Call or visit our office today!

Which Sports Pose the Greatest Risk of Back and Neck Injuries?

back painParticipating in sports is fun. Sports provide healthy exercise, comradeship, a sense of competition, and the opportunity to build and improve athletic skills. However, all sports also involve some risk of injury. In 2006, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported over half a million injuries, and that figure is only for basketball. The same agency recorded another two million sports injuries associated with bicycling, football, and other sports. And it’s not just adults who risk injury—the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics report that 3.5 million kids age 14 and younger are injured every year playing sports.

It’s important to keep numbers like these in perspective. The truth is that most of these injuries are relatively minor. “Pulled muscles,” meaning muscles and tendons damaged as the result of not warming up and stretching properly, are probably the most common type of injury, but they are not consistently reported to doctors, so no accurate statistics exist on their prevalence. The most prevalent sports-related injuries reported—in order from most common to least—are runner’s knee (55%), shoulder injuries (20%) sprained ankles (15%), and tennis or golf elbow (7%).

Serious Injuries

Next in line come a number of potentially more serious injuries involving the neck, back and spinal cord. These injuries often fit the description of “catastrophic” injuries used by sports physicians, and their number is sadly on the rise. To provide more information for sports enthusiasts hoping to minimize their likelihood of injury (not to mention parents worried about their children becoming injured), we’ve identified a few sports that cause the most neck, back and spinal cord injuries.

Sports that Cause Injuries

Naturally, any kind of “contact sport” (like football, ice hockey, and rugby) involves a higher risk of injury to the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones of the neck and back. Any time a body moving at several miles an hour runs into another one, the laws of physics dictate that there is a certain likelihood of damage, and that the damage may be serious. Even when wearing proper protective equipment (including helmets and pads), there is always a possibility of injury involved in playing these sports.

Interestingly, however, neck strain and injuries are prevalent even among practitioners of non-contact sports. For example, tennis players often put stress on their necks while straining upwards to hit overhead smashes. And cyclists who use racing handlebars and bend low over them put severe repetitive strain on their necks, because they literally have to tilt their head up into an over-extended position to see where they’re going.

Any sport (or strength-training exercise to prepare for participating in a sport) that involves lifting weights increases your risk of injuring your back and spinal cord. Most weight-lifting-related injuries are caused by either not warming up properly, by attempting to lift too much weight, or both. These types of injuries are common not only among weightlifters, but also among martial artists, tennis players and golfers, because these athletes tend to rotate their spines only in one direction. Skiers and swimmers also have a greater number of lower back injuries than other athletes. Even running can cause chronic back pain, because running improperly or with the wrong type of footwear can cause arch pain or Achilles tendonitis, which then throws the athlete’s posture off and can put strain on the back and neck even when they are no longer running.

Which Sport is the “Safest”?

So the “bottom line” is that no sport is entirely “safe” in the sense that it is completely free from the possibility of injury. There have even been cases of people spraining their thumbs from playing tiddley-winks. But if you practice “safe sports” by always warming up and stretching properly, wearing the proper equipment, knowing your limits and not exceeding them, you can avoid many potential injuries.

Contact Us at Southeastern Healthcare Today!

If you become injured—or even if you just want advice about how to avoid injury—your chiropractor can be a very valuable resource. Many chiropractors specialize in the field of sports medicine. They can measure your gait while walking or running, or watch how your body moves when performing the movements required by a certain sport, and offer advice on both how to make your movements more efficient and how to avoid injury while making them. Call or visit our office to learn more!