Competitive cyclists and runners are notorious for having a ‘train through the pain’ attitude.
After all, conventional wisdom says “no pain, no gain” — right?
We tend to ignore that lingering soreness in our feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders or neck thinking that our next bike or run session will ‘work out the kinks’ and make the aches feel better.
Instead of backing off on workouts and trying to identify the ‘root cause’ problems that led to these nagging injuries, we usually turn to pain medications such as ibuprofen to give us short-term relief.
Many athletes, however, are discovering that physical therapists can both evaluate and treat chronic sports injuries and are a great resource related to the detection and correction of biomechanical issues that cause those injuries.
Kim Martin, the director of Therapy Services at Community Hospital, says that the most common cause of non-trauma injuries to cyclists and runners is overuse (doing more than the body will tolerate).
“Training is important for success,” says Martin. “However, too much too often can lead to overuse issues that can become chronic in nature if not addressed.”
“The keys to injury prevention are warming up, stretching and not over-training.”
Martin suggests warming up for at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to strenuous activity with either light jogging/cycling and dynamic stretching to get the muscles warmed up with good blood flow to prepare the muscles for the activity.
He also recommends an easy cool-down period after the workout followed by static stretching to allow the muscles to return to pre-activity length and condition.
Dr. Kelly Moore, Assistant Clinical Professor of Physical Therapy at Angelo State University, says the most common running injuries he encounters are to the plantar fascia, hamstrings and back.
“A physical therapist can help identify the root cause of the injury, provide rehabilitation therapy and mitigate the risk of future injuries,” says Moore.
“Information such as the wear pattern on a runner’s shoe, data from a gait analysis and identification of abnormal movement patterns can all be used to develop a corrective treatment plan that might include specific stretching and strengthening exercises.”
Curtis Cramblett, a physical therapist, experienced cyclist and the founder of Revolutions in Fitness (revolutionsinfitness.com), says that cyclists can also benefit from a thorough musculoskeletal evaluation by an experienced physical therapist to identify physical limitations or weaknesses that may cause biomechanical issues and pain while cycling.
Cramblett and his associates provide evaluations and bike fitting services for top cyclists and cycling teams nation-wide.
In his 2013 University of California video presentation ‘Bike Fit: It’s All About the Bike,’ Cramblett explains that posture and body mechanics, both on and off the bike, play a significant role in identifying an optimal position on the bike to allow for efficient and pain-free cycling.
The video is almost an hour in length, but if you’re a serious cyclist who wants a professional explanation of bike fit and related injury issues it’s a must watch. You can view the video at
One difficulty related to accessing physical therapy services is that many insurance companies and medical organizations may require a referral from a medical doctor.
If you find that’s the case, start with a visit to your primary care physician and ask for both a PT recommendation and a referral.
Remember — physical therapy might be the solution to nagging injuries.
Dec. 7: Bike Through the Lights: conchochristmascelebration.com/additional-activities
Dec. 13: Run Rudolph Run: conchochristmascelebration.com/additional-activities
Now-Jan. 4: Texas Cup cyclocross series: http://txbra.org/events
Jan. 7-11: Cyclocross National Championships: usacycling.org/2015/cyclo-cross-nationals