Cycling and low back pain

Cycling in Calgary, Alberta has seen a spike in popularity, trading in the car for a bicycle has become the newest trend whether it be for exercise, enjoyment, training for a race, cross training or simply a way to protect the environment from unnecessary emissions.

A recent article in the European Journal of Sports Science indicated an association of sport activities and low back pain. They found that people who engage in running or cycling have less low back pain. So why then, do many cyclists complain of low back symptoms?

Lower Back pain (LBP) can cause problem for cyclists for a number of reasons. The easiest explanation is the prolonged bending of the back. Most cyclists spend long periods of time in a fixed position. A poorly fit bike or bad body position on the bike can lead to lower back pain due to abnormal wear to the joints along the spine and a number of muscular imbalances.

How to prevent LBP – There are a few tools you can use to help fight lower back pain while you hit the road on your bike.


  • As with anything to do with the spine, posture is important.  Always maintain a neutral spine by bending at the hips and avoid hunching your mid-back.  Your spine naturally has a curve to it; this should be maintained while riding but not overemphasized or flattened. It is often difficult to evaluate your own posture so it is worth having someone look at your body position on your bike or use a trainer in front of a mirror.


  • A poorly fit bike may also be the cause of your lower back pain; being either too stretched out or compacted by your bike can result in abnormal stresses to your back.
  • ALWAYS wear a helmet
  • Adjust the saddle so that in the bottom pedal position there is a 10 degree bend in your knee
  • Choose the right bike – in straddle position and with a proper aligned bike a 1 inch clearance will be left between the groin and the top of the frame
  • The stem height should be somewhere between parallel and 1 inch lower then the top of the saddle
  • Padded shorts can provide comfort on longer rides
  • Use UV sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Most local bike shops have trained staff that can assist you with ensuring your bike is the correct size for you as well as any minor adjustments required to fit the bike to your body.

Muscle imbalance and Overtraining

  • With any activity this is quite common, in cyclists certain muscles will be strengthened while other supporting musculature may not. Adding in resistance training as a cross training exercise is beneficial as it can strengthen the stabilizing muscles. Increase muscle mass equals increase endurance capacity. As you ease your way back into the sport, it is important to start out slow and not seek massive gains in distance, speed, time or effort too quickly. Your body will need time to adjust to a change in a new activity.

If you are experiencing pain, numbness or tingling or other MSK problems while riding, come visit one of the chiropractors at Centennial Wellness for an assessment. We will be able to provide treatment and education to treat these problems to help reduce injury.


  • Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors website:
  • Cross Sectional associations between the diversity of sport activities and the type of low back pain in adulthood – European Journal of Sports Science – Dec 19, 2019: 1-9.

Do you have a chronic injury that is not getting better from treatment?

Muscle pain is something that everyone suffers from at some point during their life from the weekend warrior, office worker to the high-end athletes. Muscle pain is caused when fibrosis occurs due to trauma caused to the tissue. Trauma can be as little as holding a posture to long, slouching, or trauma from a sport. The fibrosis in the tissue prevents blood flow and thus proper oxygen supply to the tissue. As a result of this, the muscle is getting starved from nutrients and you get pain. A highly effective treatment for anyone suffering from pain, stiffness or muscle tightness, used by many chiropractors and physiotherapists in Calgary is called Active Release Technique. A.R.T.® is a soft tissue system that is used in the treatment of soft tissue injuries. Any injury whether it is an acute tear or a chronic injury can benefit from active release. Active release works by breaking up this scar tissue and fibrosis and restoring proper blood flow/oxygen to the tissue. When this occurs the pain dissipates and the normal biomechanics of the muscle and joint return too normal.

How it works? The practitioner manually applies tension and pressure into a muscle very similar to massage and then moves the body part through a motion to get the muscle into a stretched position. Most practitioners use it in combination with other manual therapies to provide effective treatment and increase prognosis of patient injuries.

If you suffer from any of the following ailments, ART may be the solution for you:

  • Headache
  • Low Back or upper back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Neck pain
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Tendonitis
  • Shin splints
  • Hand pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Sciatica
  • Hamstring pain
  • TMJ
  • Plantar fasciitis/osis
  • Knee pain/discomfort
  • Wrist pain
  • Tennis elbow

Post Workout Massage Benefits

Did you know that implementing sports massage after vigorous workouts can improve workout performance? Running, biking, swimming and lifting weights, can leave the body sore, a deep tissue massage gets deep into the muscles to help make them more pliable and alleviate pain.  When our bodies get tight this can cause muscle restrictions and decrease our range of motion during our daily workouts. Sports massage works to loosen connective tissue, breaks up adhesions, increases blood flow and oxygen to the tissues, and provides a decrease to the stress caused to the tissues, which enviably helps improve the fluidity. Getting massage immediately after working out can reduce muscle soreness post workout. It does this by agitating tissues and forcing blood to repair any micro tears within the muscle fiber that your workout just destroyed.

Other benefits of massage include:

1. Reduction in Stress – Not only does sport or therapeutic massage help reduce stress from a hectic lifestyle, but it can also boost an individual’s energy levels to allow them to move back into a more active lifestyle.

2. Promotes Healing – Studies have shown that when a body is in a tensed state or under stress, it can produce unhealthy levels of a stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is medically linked to rapid weight gain, digestive issues, sleeplessness, headaches, and other chronic conditions. Regular massage can decrease cortisol levels.

3. Reduction in Blood Pressure – it should come as little surprise that massage therapy can also assist in lowering blood pressure. Because your stress levels are reduced after a massage your body is in a position to promote healing and lower blood pressure.

Most insurance companies accept sports massage as a treatment modality to reduce stress, relieve tension, relax muscles, improve circulation, and so much more. Come see a health care practitioner for an assessment and inquire if this treatment therapy is right for you.

Benefits of Using Graston Therapy

Have you ever had a chronically nagging injury that is stressful and painful to deal with?

When you engage in active sports the possibility of getting soft injuries is relatively high. Although most people recover quickly, at times, you may develop a chronic injury in the soft tissues known as scar tissue; overall this affects the recovery process. Scar tissue usually does not present with pain in the early stages but limits range of motion due its negative impact on sensory motor firing rates and frequencies. Abnormal sensory inputs perpetuate a dysfunctional cycle of nervous system sensitization, pain and dysfunctional movement/motor output. Graston technique offers a positive method of manual therapy that interrupts and breaks this cycle of pain and dysfunctional movement. There are various soft tissue techniques available to address these injuries, but Graston Technique has been the most effective in breaking up scar tissue and breaking the cycle of pain.

What is Graston Therapy? 

Graston technique is a patented Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization that uses six specialized stainless steel instruments that enables clinicians to effectively and efficiently address soft tissue lesions and fascial restrictions resulting in improved patient outcomes. Graston technique breaks down the scar tissue, increases blood flow to promote healing, increases cellular activity and histamine response, facilitates reflex change, stretches the connective tissues to reduce restriction and ultimately reduces the pain felt by the vicious inflammatory cycle.

At Centennial Wellness, we combine Graston Therapy with appropriate exercises and stretches to restore movement and function.


  • Helps to detect muscle restriction 
    With the specifically designed instruments, our practitioners can detect and treat areas that have restrictions in movement. These instruments glide through your muscles, ligaments, or tendons with the right amount of pressure to detect the location of the scar tissue and restriction. Once detected a gentle pressure is applied to break the tissue and ease the restriction.
  • Reduction in treatment time 
    The therapy requires two treatments a week for a maximum of five weeks, although most patients report pain relief within two to three treatments. You can easily resume your normal activities after the second treatment.
  • Reduction in the use of anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID’s)
    Inflammation is important to the healing process of an injury without it, healing will be impaired. Inflammation is evidenced by swelling, pain, redness, and heat. Although using Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs can ease the pain, it does disrupt the inflammatory phase, which is important to the healing process. Inflammation also facilitates soft tissue repair and regeneration. With Graston Therapy, you can reduce your dependence on these drugs to ease the pain.

What to Expect After the Graston Therapy?

After the treatment, the therapist will give you certain exercises and stretches to do at home. These exercises can help release scar tissue restriction and hasten the treatment.

However, the therapy has some side effects such as:

  • Bruising due to skin manipulation, but you can ease the pain with ice therapy
  • Soreness and discomfort are also common, especially after the first treatment. However, don’t be alarmed; this is an indication that the restrictions have been released. The soreness clears after 48 to 72 hours can be helped with stretching and ice therapy.

During the treatment, it is recommended you take enough water to promote hydration and proper healing.

Don’t Stay in Pain 

Soft tissue injuries are common and can occur at any time, and when they do, getting proper treatment is crucial to prevent any further complications. Our goal at Centennial Wellness is to get you moving faster and pain free.

Signs That You Should Visit a Chiropractor

Pain is our body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong. Although there are many types of pain, there are several forms that respond well to chiropractic care. Different treatment methods will mask pain and discomfort, but a chiropractor can correct the root cause.

4 Reasons to Seek Chiropractic Care

  • Migraines or Headaches: Some chiropractors believe that migraines are often the result of subluxation in the spine, which can irritate the spinal nerves that travel to the brain. This type of vertebrae misalignment can make a person more susceptible to unbalanced brain chemistry. Readjusting the misalignments is said to
    discharge the stress on aggravated nerves and in turn, alleviate headache pain.
  • Bad Ergonomic Habits: Having a job filled with repetitive tasks or living a sedentary lifestyle can take a bad toll on the body. Repetitive movements contribute to poor posture and unnatural muscle utilization. As opposed to laying down, sitting for long stretches can place stress on different areas of the body.
    The best solution is to stay active. But, if it is difficult for you to change your sedentary ways, keep up with regular chiropractic adjustments.
  • Muscle or Joint Pain: One of the first things people do when they experience pain is to take medication. But, when the aspirin stops working they visit their practitioner. If the doctor can’t uncover the cause of the pain, it is back to taking meds and continuing to suffer. Over the long-run, this cycle can cause damage to the body. In most cases, muscle and joint pain are caused by musculoskeletal misalignment. The body is designed to function as a single unit with many contributing parts. Like any machine, when one component is out of place, the entire system is out of whack. A trained chiropractor is skilled at putting displaced body parts back where they are supposed to be for optimum function and performance.
  • Too Much Activity: Just like being too idle is bad for the body, so is too much activity. If you are beating your body with excessive exercise, you are creating undue stress. Hardcore activities can subject the body to trauma, jarring, extra strain and pressure. All these things can cause spine misalignment. After years of aggressive workouts and regular sports play, you grow more prone to slipped discs, pinched nerves, and other spinal problems. But with routine chiropractic care, you can maintain a healthy spine and nerve system and remain fit for life.

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