It’s the Cycling Stupid?


Despite what I said in my last post about feeling great, a number of my years-old aches and pains have returned–and it frustrates the hell out of me!!  I can spend several weeks feeling great.  I can run, lift and bike however much I want and everything feels top-notch.  Then the symptoms come back.  My left heel and Achilles starts to ache.  My left glute feels weak.  Parts of my left hamstring often hurt.  (Maybe I should amputate my left side?)  And I’m right back where I’ve been for way too long.  It’s all of these things that have led me to continue to investigate pain, injury, nervous system dysfunction, and how to overcome these issues. 

Giving up is not an option!

Cycling-related issues

Bicycling has been one of the constants over the course of my pain.  It’s been one activity that I’ve largely been able to do pain free.  But now I’m wondering if the bicycling is setting me up for the pain and dysfunction I’ve been experiencing.  Beyond that, it may be sitting in general that’s an issue for me.

It’s probably no surprise to you that spending a lot of time on a bike saddle isn’t always the healthiest thing a man can do.  Various nerves and blood vessels can be mashed which can result in a variety of problems including erectile dysfunction, numbness, prostate issues.  Here’s a decent rundown of potential men’s health issues related to cycling.

Cycling may also have implications beyond that most sensitive of areas.  If we look at the hip flexion and extension in cycling vs. hip flexion/extension in running, then we see that that cycling keeps the hips in a very closed type of position.  We go from lots of flexion to slightly less flexion as we pedal.  We never get full hip extension.  Thus we may create glutes that are overly stretched out and weak while simultaneously restricting various other nerves in the low back and pelvis.  Add this to the fact that we all wind up sitting a lot during the day no matter how active we are, and you might see how we can quickly create problems in the hips that may filter out to other areas of the body.

Nerve flossing

This is your wiring.

Something else I’ve started recently is a bit of nerve flossing. “What?!” you say? If you look at the chart on right, you’ll notice that the nerves run out from the spinal cord and out through the limbs all the way out to the fingers and toes.  Along the way they travel through various passages.  As we move our nerves must move too–at least they should move.  They should slide back and forth smoothly as we bend, reach, sit, stand, twist, etc. But sometimes these nerves sort of become stuck.  As you might guess, nerves are somewhat sensitive.  They don’t much like being stuck, squished, pinched or otherwise messed with. We can end up with what’s known as nerve impingement or nerve entrapment.  Nerve entrapment can cause pain, numbness, weakness and/or pins-and-needles in any number of places. Someone can have an entrapped nerve for instance in their knee and they may feel symptoms down in the ankle or up in the hip.  Fortunately we can mobilize these nerves though and un-stick them. Watch the nerve flossing videos to see how.

(These are drills which we’re taught in Z-Health T-Phase.  I haven’t attended T-Phase yet but I’m dying to go.  Nerve flossing isn’t exclusive to Z-Health. It comes from the world of neurodynamics.  Good resources for neurodynamics are the NOI Group and Neurodynamic Solutions.)

I started doing some of these last week and felt better immediately.  I’m doing a lot of them every day and I’m sort of playing around with different angles and different amounts of tension as I do them.  My theory is that if I free up the nerves several good things should happen.  First, I expect reduced pain right off the bat. Second, I expect better movement as the nerves should conduct impulses from the brain out to my working parts and back again. Better movement should help resolve any deformities in soft or hard tissue.  (For more on this concept read about Wolff’s Law and Davis’ Law.  These laws describe how tissue remodels along the lines of stress. Further, these laws govern such things such as bone density, arthritis, and callouses.  Arthritis is reversible by the way! Don’t let a doctor tell you otherwise.)

So the plan is this: As much as it “pains” me, I’m laying off the bike for several weeks.  How long?  I’m not sure.  It’s the one part of the equation that I really haven’t changed so I need to investigate it.  Further, I’m going to continue with the nerve flossing and lots of to see what happens.

Further, my idea is that running is something humans have done since before the start of forever.  Bicycling meanwhile is quite a different activity from anything our ancient ancestors did, and it’s a very new activity relative to how long homo sapiens have been on earth.  Thus it may be the sort of activity that causes some weird stuff to happen to us–or me specifically. So my hope and my expectation is by reducing the cycling I’ll resolve some of these issues, and this will allow me to run.  I will eventually return to cycling and see how I feel.  This whole process, should it work, should enhance my cycling ability as well.