RIDING bikes can be hard on the arms and shoulders. I just finished a twelve-visit physical therapy stint for my bum left shoulder and while I would have preferred to not have the pain and mobility issues that caused me to finally go to the doctor I’m grateful in some weird way, that it did.
THANKS to my chiropractor, I got hooked up with Jason and Justin, and staff, at PT Revolution in So. Lake Tahoe. Having been to a few physical therapists in my life I found their focus on mountain athletes to be unique. They are also the only group where I received deep-tisssue work as part of the therapy. That was a bit painful (less so as I progressed through the visits) yet it was necessary to open up the muscles and tendons of the Rotator cuff to help expedite the healing process.
THAT was my first big takeaway…Massage, deep-tissue work, call it what you will, it’s a big part of rehabbing those shoulders.
COMBINE that with some exercises, most of which used the Crossover Symmetry system, and I’m on the road to recovery, with perhaps a caveat. As Justin said early on: “I think you may have some pathology going on in there…” So, an MRI is likely in my future. Still, the progress I’ve made has been surprising in that I didn’t think deep tissue massage and exercises would help at all; I was in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep on my left side, and doing household chores like shoveling snow and splitting wood wasn’t pretty.
SECOND takeaway, and I think Crossover Symmetry says it best: “Research shows that self-rehab helps to fix shoulder pain in several ways. First, movement optimizes your body’s natural healing process. Secondly, it builds a support structure around injuries that cannot heal, often restoring them back to full capacity. Lastly, by correcting the underlying movement issues it prevents the injury from progressing.”
Pain While on the Bike
THAT’S what motivated me to finally go see the doctor. I had been ignoring the problem since last summer, but once I started getting some twinges while riding, mostly when transitioning from seated to standing, I had finally had enough. After all, it is getting serious…the Deathride is coming this summer and I don’t have time for pain.
THAT will come in July!
Skeptic No More
IT’S been about two (2) months or so since I started this little adventure and I am definitely progressing. I was going to PT twice a week, and doing the exercises they gave me while there (after the deep-tissue work) and daily, on my own. Not only were my shoulders and arms getting stronger, so was my core; some of the exercises, while focused on the shoulder and arms, called for good engagement of the lower back, glutes and abs.
I’VE gotten authorization for six (6) more visits, which Jason and I thought we’d spread out over six (6) weeks, mostly so I can get that hands-on help that I think has been crucial to the healing process.
IN the meantime I’ve gotten my own Crossover Symmetry bundle (they’ve got a hip & core package too) and Mrs. California Alps Cycling and I installed the set up in our pain-cave.
THE system comes with some sweet add-ons including charts that are actually comprehendable and an online “Training Zone” with courses, a mobile app. and additional resources.
ACTIVATION is now a part of my pre-ride routine. It “prepares the muscles for activity by increasing blood flow” and it takes only minutes. When I do it I’ve noticed a difference in my pain level while riding. Yesterday I had no pain while riding at all!
RECOVERY post-ride is something I’ve also starting doing and it too has helped loosen up the shoulders and arms after they’ve been bearing the weight of my substantial upper-body. As you’ve likely noticed in the images above, pro cyclist arms and torso I do not have.
STRENGTH and mobility come next but I’ll wait until I’m cleared before I take on those aspects of the program.
THAT brings me to my third, final and most important takeaway, and yes oh clairvoyant one, you’ve guessed it already.
Strengthening those shoulders, and keeping them that way, as well as increasing flexibility, is vital to maintaining the three (3) areas of the shoulder: the scapula, clavicle and upper humerus, and the muscles and tendons that surround and support them.
SO with that said, or written in this case, I’ll sign off and see you out on the road.
YOU’LL know me as I’ll be the rider with the happy shoulders. 😉
7 thoughts on “Shoulder Pain on the Bike? Me Too! Here Are My Three Takeaways”
Just for the love of riding a bike!
Be careful with that strengthening. A lot of people do it in ways that make it worse. I have rehabbed a lot of shoulders (mine included). I have found that isometric strengthening with the arm at your side (not over head or even close to it) can be started early to prevent atrophy. A lot of therapists think you have to restore motion before you start strengthening. A lot of therapists are wrong. (But I’m not going to try to treat you from 2000 miles away.) Good luck with your rehab. If it hurts to ride, get out and walk! (Got snowshoes?)
PS: the featured picture doesn’t look a bit like you 😉
Good advice and yes, I do have snowshoes. Just need some more snow!
Oh, sorry. I thought you’d have snow up there. In that case, you don’t even need the snowshoes! Be nice to that shoulder and you will ride again.
We’ve got some leftover from December’s Snowmageddon. It’s just a bit crusty and dirty. More coming hopefully 🙏.