Cycling is an incredibly popular sport in the world today. It’s also one of the most physically demanding sports there are, so it only makes sense that cyclists would need physical therapy to help them recover from injuries and stay healthy. Physical therapy has been shown to improve cyclists’ performance by helping with post-injury rehabilitation and easing pain caused by cycling-related overuse injuries. To learn more about physical therapy and how cyclists get the most out of their PT regimens, read on!
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a form of rehabilitation that helps people recover from injuries and improve their physical abilities. Physical therapists use various techniques, including exercises, stretches, and massage, to help their patients regain strength and movement. Typically, it involves a combination of exercises and treatments that are specifically tailored to the individual patient.
Why Do Cyclists Need Physical Therapy?
Cyclists need physical therapy for a few different reasons. First, cycling is a very physically demanding sport, and it can cause overuse injuries in the muscles, joints, and ligaments. Second, cyclists often suffer from injuries that they won’t be able to ride through. These may include road rash, broken bones, and serious muscle injuries from either falling or overusing muscles. Finally, physical therapy can help cyclists recover from surgery so they can get back on the bike as soon as possible.
Additionally, a cyclist may need PT in order to regain mobility after an unrelated injury. For example, if they have a car accident or get hurt playing another sport, they will need to practice exercises that not only give them the mobility to perform daily tasks but also the mobility to get back on their bikes.
Treatment for Overuse Injuries
Overuse injuries are often the most common injuries that cyclists face, and these can be particularly debilitating because they tend to interfere with training schedules. The two main overuse injuries that affect cyclists are iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) and patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).
Iliotibial band syndrome is the inflammation of the iliotibial band, which runs down the outside of each leg. This condition usually occurs when cyclists have increased their mileage or intensity too quickly without properly stretching beforehand. The symptoms include thigh pain, knee pain, and general knee weakness.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is another common overuse injury in cyclists that typically occurs when there’s too much pressure on the kneecap. Symptoms include pain around or near the bottom front of the knee cap (the patella). The best way to prevent this kind of injury is with proper training, using a gradual increase in mileage, and by strengthening the quadriceps muscles.
What Types of Physical Therapy Can Help Cyclists?
There are many different types of treatments for cycling-related overuse injuries. These may include:
- Stretching exercises that can help to loosen tight muscles and improve range of motion
- Strengthening exercises to build up the muscles around the injured area
- Massage therapy to relieve tension and pain in the muscles
- Ice or heat therapy to reduce inflammation or swelling
- Acupuncture to improve blood circulation and reduce pain
- Orthotics or braces to support the injured area
- Electrical stimulation to the impacted area for faster recovery
What Can Cyclists Expect from Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy can vary depending on the severity of an injury. Some cyclists may only need a few visits before they are able to resume their training, while others will have long-term regimens for overcoming major injuries. For example, if someone has surgery or an extreme road rash and bone break after falling off their bike at a high speed, they might have a lengthy rehab process to go through. Other less serious instances may only require a few visits or basic exercise recommendations.
Some of the benefits that cyclists can expect from physical therapy include improved range of motion and blood circulation in their muscles, increased flexibility around affected areas, improved strength and endurance for both short-term cycling events as well as long-distance training rides. Cyclists can also expect to learn techniques on how they can stretch and strengthen their muscles for improved cycling performance.
When Should Cyclists See a Physical Therapist?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of an overuse injury, it’s best to see a physical therapist. Waiting too long can not only delay your recovery but also increase the risk of causing more damage. It’s also helpful to see a physical therapist if you want to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. A physical therapist can assess your current fitness level and give recommendations on how many miles or hours per week are recommended for someone at that level, as well as what types of stretches, strengthening exercises, etc., you should be doing on a regular basis.
If you’re not currently experiencing any symptoms but want to improve your cycling performance, see a physical therapist for an evaluation. PTs can help identify muscle weaknesses or imbalances that may be causing problems and preventing you from getting the most out of your rides.
How Can Cyclists Get the Most Out of Physical Therapy?
There are several ways cyclists can get the most out of their physical therapy sessions. The first step in getting the most out of physical therapy is not running away from it! Athletes often feel that PT sessions are a waste of time. However, those who take this time to improve their strength and flexibility usually notice a difference in the long run.
The second step is by being honest with your physical therapist about what you can or cannot do during treatment sessions. It’s not always easy for athletes to admit that they’re struggling, but it will help PTs understand where more of their focus should be on each visit.
The third step is to be patient and diligent with your exercises between visits. PTs will give you a set of exercises to do at home, and it’s important that you complete them as instructed. This may mean sacrificing some of your free time, but the payoff will be worth it.
The final step involves following up with your PT after each visit. And also following all of the instructions you are given. This involves a healthy sleeping and eating schedule in addition to your PT training. You may have to make some adjustments or sacrifices in your training. But it will all be worth it when you’re back on the bike and feeling better!
No matter what level of cyclist you are, there’s a physical therapist out there who can help. Whether it’s to strengthen your muscles before an event or recover from an injury after one, finding the right PT for you is just a call away!
[…] How Cyclists Can Get the Most Out Of Physical Therapy […]
[…] Cycling is an incredibly popular sport in the world today. It's also one of the most physically demanding sports there are, so it only makes sense that cyclist […]