How Your Chiropractor Knows You’re a Cyclist

The shaved legs and disproportionately large quads aren’t the only giveaways.


Selene Yeager |

The shaved legs and disproportionately large quads aren’t the only giveaways. – By Selene Yeager

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Just as hard knocks and many miles can loosen your spokes and make your wheels wobble, the wear and tear of our sport can pull your body out of alignment—something chiropractors see quite often. “Any repetitive activity can bring you out of alignment,” says George Rhodes, DC, of Rhodes Family Chiropractic in Philadelphia, an avid endurance cyclist himself. “It also can amplify any hidden structural abnormalities—even from years or decades prior—that you already have. That’s why I go to my own chiropractor regularly to keep my ‘wheels true’ so to speak.”Here Rhodes and another avid cycling chiropractor, Bobby Livingston, DC, of LiveWell Integrated Health in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania share the common issues they see among the cyclists they treat.shutterstock_302659160

Hip Locks

Your glutes are big, powerful cycling muscles and when they get tight, your hips don’t move the way they’re meant to, says Livingston. “It’s pretty common to see the sacroiliac joint get locked up and not function properly in cyclists,” he says. “I can feel that pretty quickly on the table. You push one side of the hip and it there’s a healthy amount of give. You push the other side and it’s like pushing on a brick wall.” The stress of that travels down the kinetic chain and you get knee pain—one of the most common complaints he sees.

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Misaligned Lower Back

Hunching over a desk and then hunching over your handlebars can stretch out your back muscles, an issue when combined with the tight hamstrings and hip flexors common in cyclists can rob your spine of its natural, healthy curvature. This puts stress on your vertebrae, especially those in your lumbar (low back) region. “Low back pain is common in the cycling community, and of course the population at large,” says Rhodes, noting that along with an adjustment, proper bike fit, core strength and range of motion exercises are important to prevent the root causes.

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Your Hands Are Numb

Chiropractors see their share of riders coming in complaining of tingling, numb mitts. “It can be originating from compression in their upper back or from issues in the wrist joint itself,” says Livingston. Again, proper fit and technique to prevent overreaching and undue stress and compression are important to keep your hands comfortable.

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No Text Neck

On a positive note, cyclists are less likely to present with a modern spinal malady deemed “text neck,” or wear and tear on the cervical spine from having your head drooped over your device throughout the day all day. “Cycling requires that you hold your head in its normal upright position to look up and out,” says Rhodes. “You establish a normal neck curve.”

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