The president and founder of Julstro, Julie Donnelly, was the personal massage therapist for Marko Baloh during his 2005 Race Across America (RAAM). As such, she was with some amazing cyclists during RAAM 2005 and definitely learned a lot about ultracycling. Julie went on to help cyclists prevent injuries that have taken other cyclists totally out of the sport.
Cycling, especially any type of endurance cycling, will repetitively strain all of your muscles from your neck to your ankles. There are so many muscles being repetitively strained as you ride. Let’s talk about a few.
While you are in the aerodynamic position your body is leaning forward until you are almost horizontal to the road, curving your low back and shortening your Psoas and Iliacus muscles as short as they can get. This will cause low back and hip pain when you stop for a break and try to stand up straight. The muscles have rotated your pelvis down, and shortened one of your quadriceps muscles (Rectus Femoris) which is then causing knee pain.If you ever experience the pain of sciatica, I suggest you read the Back section to understand how leaning forward in the aerodynamic position can cause your pelvis to be pressing up onto your sciatic nerve.
Have you heard of Shermer Neck? This is a painful condition where the muscles of your neck have given out and you can’t hold your head up any longer. It’s also the condition that ended Allen Larsen’s cycling career. It is vital that you learn how to self-treat the muscles of your posterior neck so you can prevent this situation from happening to you. By knowing how to self-treat you can work on your neck at every rest stop, and any other time you can rub the back of your neck (i.e. at home, at work, and even while leisurely riding).
There are four quadriceps muscles, three of them originate on your thigh bone (femur) and one of them originates on the tip of your pelvis (rectus femoris). All four of them insert into your patella tendon, which crosses over your kneecap and inserts into your shin bone (tibia). When they contract you straighten your leg, but when they are shortened by repetitive movements you are prevented from bending your knee. If you think about your legs while you are riding you’ll realize they are never totally straight, so the quadriceps muscles, which are contracting with every down stroke, are definitely tightening and getting shorter, putting a strain on your knee.
When you are on extended rides it’s easy for the muscles of your forearm to contract, causing wrist and hand pain, and even causing numbness in your fingers.The numbness can also be coming from your biceps because as you bend your arm to rest on your aerobars, your biceps are held in the shortened position.The short head of your biceps originates on a small bone (coracoid process) that crosses directly over the nerves to your arm and hand, so when the muscle is tight it can pull down on the bone and you feel numbness in your fingers.The numbness in your fingers, and also pain in the front of your shoulder, can also be coming from your Pectoralis Minor muscle. This muscle inserts into the same shoulder bone (coracoid process) as your biceps, so when it is tight it can be pulling the bone down into the nerves that go to your fingers.
While you are riding your Hamstrings are contracted the entire time because your hamstrings bend your knee. Muscle memory actually shortens the muscle fibers and then you try to stand up when you stop for a break, but you can’t straighten your legs. You try to stretch your hamstrings, and it may feel good for a bit, but you could actually tear them if you don’t first release the tension in your Quadriceps, which will then release most of the tension in your Hamstrings. It’s a bit complicated, but if you go to the back pain page it will be more logical.
Fortunately every one of these muscles mentioned above are easy to self-treat, it just takes a little understanding of the body and knowledge of how to do the Julstro self-treatments. Julstro works!