Just like any other sport cycling comes with its share of injuries. I recently talked with Dr. Alexis Racheotes about what she has seen in her chiropractic practice and what her personal experiences have been on the bike.
Ali is a super talented cyclist. A regular on the WHF Saturday ride and even shows up for some Tuesday Night World Championships abuse. She can hold her own with the boys and pretty much owns every STRAVA Queen of the Mountain (QOM) segment around Fayetteville. I brought this up on a ride recently and she quickly replied, "I don’t care about that, I want to beat you guys (us dudes) up the hills" bazinga...and she does, quite often. Ali was the perfect fit for this first installment of Cycling: Pain & Injury.
WHF: What inspires you to ride?
Dr. R: I started cycling as mountain biker in my early 20's. So, I guess, I have been riding 20 odd years - I love that cycling puts you in motion and lets you explore the world - it’s the challenge, the camaraderie, the way it makes me feel happy, free and alive that keeps me cycling.
WHF: Why did you choose chiropractic?
Dr. R: After completing a bachelor's of science, I attended and graduated from Texas Chiropractic College, where I had the opportunity to learn acupuncture and participate in hospital spinal orthopedic rotations at UTMB-Galveston. I chose chiropractic because I had always been fascinated with the human body and I believed that the general public should have an alternative to medication. At the birth of my chiropractic education, I had no idea what chiropractic had to offer in athletic performance. That I learned from Dr. John Downes while working with the indoor arena Georgia Force football team.
WHF: What are some of the most common cycling related injuries you see?
Dr. R: Cycling doesn't have to be painful or uncomfortable. For the person new to the sport, injuries/complaints usually arise from all the areas that are in touch with the bicycle: hands (i.e., "handlebar palsy”), feet (i.e., Morton's neuroma) and bottom (saddle sores). Proper bike fit, glove wear, shoe fit, saddle, shorts and chami cream usually help these issues resolve. For the experienced cyclist, it’s a different story: overuse injuries, over training "syndrome", muscle imbalances and compensation issues. There are also the injuries resulting from a crash - concussion, abrasions (otherwise known as the dreaded "road rash"), broken bones, etc. Without preventative care, overtime any cyclist can experience neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, etc.
WHF: What ways are you treating these injuries?
Dr. R: In addition to recommending a professional bike fit and purchasing proper cycling equipment, I analyze a cyclists muscle resting length and muscle movement patterns, assess nutritional habits and inform the patient how to take preventative care of his/her body. With acute muscular related injuries, I use dry needling technique and cold laser therapy. I use chiropractic care and acupuncture to help cyclists get out of chronic pain and move better, so the ride is more enjoyable or in some cases possible.
WHF: Do you have any tips for folks getting into cycling?
Dr. R: Bike fit is HUGE - and you cannot go wrong with improving core muscle strength and stretching - the biggest obstacle for most people is not forming a healthy stretching and strengthening routine. Including chiropractic care and sticking to it to prevent a chronic problem.
WHF: Have you experienced any cycling related injuries?
Dr.R: Road rash - ouch!!!!...stitches!!! Improper hydration leading to dehydration!!! Improper nutrition leading to BONKING!!! Missing chiropractic care, neck pain, back pain and soreness!!! Improper shoe wear and hot spots!! The wrong chamois and wrong chami butter…well, we all know what that leads to…
WHF: Are there any women specific injuries/issues?
Dr.R: Mature females have a bigger Q angle than most males -- which means the angle from hips to the knee is larger which leads to different pressure on the hips, knees, ankles and all the muscles in between. Again a proper bike fit and chiropractic care. Seat comfort seems to be a chief complaint among females - I recommend a bike fit and a great pair of bike shorts.Spend the extra money on the shorts and the bike fit!! Fear is a big issue for females over the age of 12. Hopefully with the trail system development in our town that will go away. Exposing girls to riding bikes (dirt and road) at a young age is a great gift to give. And for those of us over 12, reassurance from experienced cyclists and participation in one or all of the great number of organized group rides in this community helps immensely. The cycling community here in Northwest Arkansas is really unique. Cyclists here are quick to help other riders.
A big thanks to Ali for interviewing! Stay tuned...I'll focus on saddles in the next installment of Cycling: Pain & Injury. The more you enjoy something the more you will do it. Like Ali said it doesn't have to be painful or uncomfortable. Cycling has a ton of return on investment. To contact Ali about services that she provides see her contact information below. Thanks for following!
Ali Racheotes, DC
3538 Hwy 112
Fayetteville, AR 72704
3538 Hwy 112
Fayetteville, AR 72704