Those of you who are cycling enthusiasts were aware that our wonderful city of Greenville has played host to the United States Professional Cycling Championships for a number of years now. For a cycling enthusiast like me, it is the equivalent of having the Superbowl in my home town. I have had the opportunity to evaluate and treat many elite athletes through the years, and the sport of cycling has become my passion as well as a wonderful way for me to help maintain my health.
I have been involved with professional cycling since 1991 which was when I was invited to be the local chiropractic provider for the powerhouse Coors Light Cycling Team during their stay in Greenville for the Michelin Classic cycling event. The Michelin Classic was the culmination of the Subaru National Cycling Series, and as such, the media coverage was huge. ESPN was on hand to broadcast the race, and Coors had a powerhouse team on hand to garner as much media exposure as possible for their brewery sponsor. The team leader was Davis Phinney, who I was to discover was the first American to win a stage in the Tour de France, and was an Olympic Bronze medalist. I struck up an easy friendship with many of the team members, and Davis was especially approachable and an all around nice guy. I subsequently joined Davis and his Olympic Gold Medal winning wife Connie Carpenter-Phinney for many summers in the mountains of Colorado at their memorable Carpenter-Phinney Cycling Camps. (www.bikecamp.com)
My cycling world came full circle in a manner of speaking prior to this past USPRO weekend. George Hincapie who was the reining USPRO road race champion came to my office for a check up on the Wednesday before the event. He brought with him a 20 year old upstart racer who was staying with him for the week prior to the event. The young man was none other than Taylor Phinney, a 6’6″ 170# prodigy who I had last seen as a child in Colorado. To say I was thrilled to see Taylor (again) was an understatement. I had been following his short and profoundly successful career as an under 23 junior racer, and knew that he was the “next big thing” for cycle racing in our country. I performed my check out proceedures for both George and Taylor, and wished both of them the best for the upcoming weekend races.
On Saturday, Taylor was slated to compete in the individual time trial event at the ICAR center. He was matched against other much more seasoned professionals, but his greatest competition would come from a former USPRO time trial champion and former 3rd place Tour de France finisher named Levi Leipheimer. Taylor blazed out of the start house and after 1 lap of the course, put his stamp of authority on the event by setting a new 1 lap course record time. The rolling terrain of ICAR would not be much of a challenge to either racer, however, the wind picked up with significant gusts as the racers coursed along. I wondered if Taylor would find disadvantage versus Levi with his almost foot taller frame catching more of the wind as he rode the course. Levi did gain time, but by the end of the event, Taylor had added yet another race win to his palmarès. The winning margin? .14 seconds!
I know that in competitions where the margins of victory are sometimes inches or fractions of a second, every legal advantage is important to competitors. This is why so many elite cyclists, runners and triathletes include chiropractic care as a part of their healthcare team. From the days of Coors Light racing to the present, I have heard from so many that chiropractic helps them maintain their winning edge. By the way…I didn’t work on Levi prior to the weekend races. See you next year Levi?;-)
Taylor Phinney, Pain Killers and Tips for Handling Cycling Injuries
The use of legal pain killers by professional cyclists became a hot news item this week when 2nd year professional Taylor Phinney tweeted about his teammates’ stage win and respect for those not using pain killers or caffeine. Many cyclists will gladly endure some pain in exchange for better performance or faster speeds. However, there are warning signs of pain that shouldn’t be ignored! The following is a grading scale for measuring the discomfort from overuse-type injuries which can occur in cyclists:
- Pain comes on after the ride, but does not affect time and/or distance.
- Pain occurs during the ride, but does not affect time and/or distance.
- Pain occurs during the ride and affects time and/or distance.
- Pain is severe enough so that the cyclist cannot ride.
- Pain is severe enough so that it affects all daily activities.
Many novice cyclists believe that taking a few days off or even reducing their training program will adversely affect their performance. However, the body needs rest time to heal and recover from an injury. Without time off for recovery, chronic or more serious cycling injuries can develop. These chronic conditions can begin to affect not only performance, but also common daily activities.
As a chiropractic physician, I consider a number of factors when assessing a cyclist with a level 3, 4, or 5 complaint.
Foremost, I have to review the relationship between rider and bicycle. No matter how successful I am as a health care provider when resolving an injury, if the causation of the injury comes from poor bike fit, I will find a problem that continually re-occurs every time the cyclist resumes training. For many cycling positional challenges, a few minor tweaks of saddle position, handlebar reach or height or cleat and pedal position will resolve the problem. There are a number of positional challenges which I will address with an in office bike fit assessment. Since I am a full-time chiropractor, scheduling a bike fit can sometimes present time challenges. When this occurs, I will refer the athlete to one of the best bike fit experts in the region, Jim Cunningham.
The result of an expert bike fit is the optimal integration of the relationship between a perfectly symmetrical machine (the bike) with an oftentimes less than perfectly symmetrical human being. When this occurs, the athlete is protected from overuse injuries, and oftentimes the optimized position results in a significant increase in power and speed.
You can contact Dr. David Mruz for a no-cost telephone consultation about your bike injury questions at 864-292-6777.