Working as a Cycopath..... (Cycling Osteopath)
By silsdenosteopathy, Dec 4 2014 04:04PM
This year I had the privilege of working with Tour de France cycling team NetApp Endura at numerous high profile international races in Europe. Being a cyclist myself, it has always been a dream to combine my two passions in this way and I learnt a lot from the experience.
Cycling is a gruelling sport and it's not only the legs that can take a lot of strain. When you ride a bike you are also using your arms to stabilise your upper body, and give yourself more power going up the hills or sprinting bu using them as a counter force to the pedal stroke. Necks and shoulders suffer from the position and also due to the accessory muscles of respiration being over used and chronically tightening up. Being in the same position on a bike for hours every day also leads to muscular imbalances, the pectorals and hip flexors in particular become shortened leading to long, weak muscles in the back that can cause postural problems and back pain. Lower back muscles in particular work hard to stabilise the pelvis when you are cycling and any imbalances in the pelvis can lead to one side of the lower back and abdominal muscles doing more work than they should, leading once again to aches and pains. Heavy breathing and the flexed posture also affect the thoracic spine and rib cage. If you have been unlucky enough to crash, as a LOT of the professionals have, then there are always imbalances and residual complications even when the injury is supposedly healed, that can cause long term issues if not treated.
Treatment during a race differs massively from treatment that you would receive outside a race situation. The riders often need gentle massage, articulation and manipulation to their spinal muscles and joints as well as their legs in order to keep stiffness and pain on the bike at bay. Deep tissue work and strong treatment techniques are not suitable for this situation, as this type of treatment can leave you sore for a day or two and when you have to get back on your bike and race the next day you still have to be able to perform at your best. Bike racing is very mentally, emotionally and physically draining. The big teams now all use osteopaths as part of their staff to be able to look after the riders more effectivelly and holistically.
Amateur and novice cyclists can also benefit very much from osteopathic treatment, as your bodies are still in the same position, doing the same movements and putting out effort just as the professionals do. You may not ride as often (or as fast!) but cycling can be pretty tough on your body and it's important to make sure you look after it. Why pay hundreds or thousands on a bike, wheels,, kit, race entries etc if you don't address any issues with your body that can have a detrimental affect on performance, power output or even just being comfortable on the bike?