Old blokes, bikes and injuries

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Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:14 pm

G'day all
Facts: I'm 67 and have just started riding again after 20+ years..
I've been riding my Trek hybrid for about 3 months in a bid to regain some health and shed some kilos and I'm finding I'm starting to suffer some minor injuries.
So far I've lost almost 20kg and I still have a way to go.
I'm currently doing about 25km per ride about 3 - 5 times per week.

The first injury is, and I'm not certain it's a cycling injury, Plantar Faciitis (Heel). It's been crook for some weeks now and although I'm getting physio it's still damn sore. It doesn't worry me at all when I'm riding but gets sore later.

The second thing that worries me is numb hands!!! Is there a way around this? Is there something I can do to take the pressure off them or will this issue resolve itself in time?
I'm finding that after about 5km or so my hands start to get sore and numb. It continues during the whole ride but I've found that my left hand in particular starts to get pins and needles and is quite uncomfortable.
Now though I'm finding that on the rear of my left shoulder blade I'm suffering quite intense pain, a burning sharp pain that seems (I think) to coincide with the pins and needles in my hands.
The sharp burning pain comes and goes all day now well after my ride has finished and the pain seems to be getting worse.
So far I've spent about $400 on physio trying to fix my heel and the last thing I want is to start spending more on my shoulder and hands.

Can anyone shed some light on my problems so that I can have a clear cut plan to resolve them?
Thanks guys
Tony
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by BNA » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:06 pm

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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby grimbo » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:06 pm

Nicely done on the 20kg!

In regard to numb hands, some gel-padded gloves fixed that for me. I assume you are wearing gloves?

I was instructed to ride with arms slightly bent and with a light grip on the bars. When I concentrate on doing this, it really eases my shoulders and reduces fatigue. You could also try different positions to grip the bars (eg, get some bar ends), just to give your hands a different position.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Nobody » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:39 pm

For the heel injury (which I think is usually caused from injury to muscles on bottom of the feet) try moving your feet more forward on the pedals (cleats further back if you have them).

In addition to what Grimbo said above, try moving your saddle back a bit on the seatpost. As counter-intuitive as it appears, this should take more weight off your hands.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:05 pm

Thanks
No, I'm not using gloves and maybe I should but it's hard to imaging gloves helping my hands when they get as numb as they do. I'll have a look around for padded gloves though.

"In addition to what Grimbo said above, try moving your saddle back a bit on the seatpost. As counter-intuitive as it appears, this should take more weight off your hands."
It's funny but I somehow felt the seat was too far forward for my liking but (my logic) said that if I move it back I'll make it worse. I'll try it.
The shoulder thing is an issue. It doesn't feel like a muscular thing somehow. The pain is way too sharp, like a hot needle being stuck into the rear of my shoulder. It might be a nerve thing and that's why I wondered is the pins and needles in the hands had anything to do with it. Has anyone else experienced this?

"For the heel injury (which I think is usually caused from injury to muscles on bottom of the feet) try moving your feet more forward on the pedals (cleats further back if you have them).""
I wear runners and just ride where the pedal feels comfortable under foot. Hmmmm! Is it likely that the injury is a result of my cycling? Because I ride without any discomfort in my feet I would have suspected not, but the reality is that all this stuff seems to have reared its ugly head since I started riding so the coincidences are just too great.
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Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby gabrielle260 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:39 pm

Sounds like a classic case of poor bike fit! If you want to DIY, go on cyclingnews.com and look at Steve Hogg's posts on the training and fitness section or check out his own website. Alternatively book a session with a cycling coach or a shop good on bike fit.
Not addressing poor bike fit can cause serious long term problems and lots of discomfort!
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:15 pm

The heel pain might be a result of overuse, especially if it increases during the day. If so, adequate rest & recovery might be the starting point.

Has your physio recommended any stretching or warm up exercises? These could help if tight calves are a contributing factor.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby trailgumby » Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:38 pm

This is where the regular recovery week becomes important as prevention.

I've just ramped up my efforts to get ready for the Mont 24 and had a real scorcher of a run into the CBD on Tuesday which i was happy with, but tweaked my knee during the course of the day getting up from my chair.

While the bike wasn't the immediate cause, it needs to be understood that training does make you less fit and weaker in the immediate post-training window, until the body's mechanisms kick in to repair and prepare over the next 24-48 hours. So in my case the increased training load was the root cause rather than the immediate cause.

I'm nursing the knee at the moment by staying offf it where possible and using anti-inflamatory cream, but next week I have a recovery week scheduled which i am looking forward to.

iMad, it would be worth going to see a physio to look at yoru heel and suggest a program, and then getting someone with expertise to cast an eye over how yo look when pedalling on your steed and seeing what they think neds to be done to get your fit right.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:39 pm

It would also be worth dropping down a gear or two. Spinning at a higher cadence in a lower gear normally takes the load off and reduces the wear & tear on the ankles & calves. It also benefits circulation.

Also check that you're not overworking your ankle joint with each pedal stroke though. I'm no expert, but I imagine that anything which strains your calves & tendons could also contribute to fasciitis.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:14 am

A couple of other points: Fasciitis can be aggravated by shoes that are too soft or provide incorrect arch support. A good pair of cycling shoes could be a worthwhile investment. Correct padding on the heel can help, too. Maybe even try a couple of thick pairs of socks for extra cushioning.

I've also heard that rolling a frozen bottle of water backwards and forwards under the affected foot can help. Medications that help to reduce inflammation (e.g. Ibuprofen) might also help. Either way, check with your physio or GP first to see if these options are suitable in your case!
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Sat Feb 04, 2012 1:05 am

iMad wrote:It's funny but I somehow felt the seat was too far forward for my liking but (my logic) said that if I move it back I'll make it worse. I'll try it.
The shoulder thing is an issue. It doesn't feel like a muscular thing somehow. The pain is way too sharp, like a hot needle being stuck into the rear of my shoulder. It might be a nerve thing and that's why I wondered is the pins and needles in the hands had anything to do with it. Has anyone else experienced this?


The pins and needles in the hands and the pain in the shoulder might have a common cause. My guess is that you could be supporting too much weight on your hands, which transfers the load to your arms & shoulders as well. As the others have pointed out, getting a good "bike fit" done will probably solve a lot of the issues. The correct seat position will allow some of the load to be transferred from your wrists and arms to your lower back muscles.

If the seat feels that it's too far forward, seat height might be an issue too. You can't get the proper leg extension if the seat is too low. Sometimes people try to address this by pushing their seat too far back. This allows them to straighten their legs a little more, but it can create other problems.

If your seat is at the right height, then you should be able to (just) place the heel of your bike shoe on the pedal with your leg straight, when the pedal is at the bottom of the down stroke. That way, when you place your foot in the correct position for pedalling, your leg will be just slightly bent.

With the seat at the right height you can then slide the seat forwards or backwards so that it's comfortably under your "sit bones" when you're grasping the 'bars. The correct position will make it easier to ride with "light hands".
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:09 am

grimbo wrote:In regard to numb hands, some gel-padded gloves fixed that for me. I assume you are wearing gloves?

I was instructed to ride with arms slightly bent and with a light grip on the bars. When I concentrate on doing this, it really eases my shoulders and reduces fatigue. You could also try different positions to grip the bars (eg, get some bar ends), just to give your hands a different position.


I got some gel-padded gloves and have tried your suggestions and I'm happy to say it seems to have helped my hands and the pins and needles.
Unfortunately it hasn't helped the 'burn' in the rear of my shoulder.
We'll see and thanks everyone for your contributions.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Herby » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:47 am

Hi Imad, For anyone to lose 20 kg is a good achievement and not surprising that if you have decided
to get fit again, you may get a few niggling aches and pains. If I have a bit of a layoff and then restart
then my body feels it a bit.
My age is 75 years and I find that it helps if I do about 30 minutes of exercize (mainly stretching) every morning,
before my daily ride (weather permitting). You can find plenty of suggestions for exercize online or books from library.
Try to stretch every muscle in your body.
A while back I seemed to often suffer from lower back pain, but after raising the handlebars on my Malvern Star
Suburban a bit, things seem better. I think we should wear gloves just in case we fall off.
Good luck and keep up the riding.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:12 pm

Herby wrote:Hi Imad, For anyone to lose 20 kg is a good achievement and not surprising that if you have decided
to get fit again, you may get a few niggling aches and pains. If I have a bit of a layoff and then restart
then my body feels it a bit.
My age is 75 years and I find that it helps if I do about 30 minutes of exercize (mainly stretching) every morning,
before my daily ride (weather permitting). You can find plenty of suggestions for exercize online or books from library.
Try to stretch every muscle in your body.
A while back I seemed to often suffer from lower back pain, but after raising the handlebars on my Malvern Star
Suburban a bit, things seem better. I think we should wear gloves just in case we fall off.
Good luck and keep up the riding.


Hey thanks Herby
It's been suggested to me that I raise my handlebars on my Trek to overcome the hand issue. I haven't investigated this yet because I'm trying other remedies first.
Stretching... it makes a whole lot of sense and I do stretch AFTER my ride.
I haven't always been a sedentary old fat bastard and for many years achieved an extremely high level of fitness.
I've always been an early morning exerciser and have never stretched prior to. Perhaps as I age I might feel the need as you've discovered.
Congratulations to you for doing it all at 75. I'd like to think I'd be still riding in 8 years time.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Tony
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby waramatt » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:48 pm

Hi Tony

Great work on the weight loss to date. It really is an awesome effort so you must be doing a lot right. :D

First up, I'm 51 so you can decide whether that's old enough to offer advice :lol:

Reading the thread, I'd agree with just about every bit of advice offered so far. The people offering it do a lot of miles on a bike so have probably experienced much of what you are going through. Bike fit - yep I'd check that with a reputable LBS.

Plantar fasciitis - I've had it 2-3 times. Last time I spent about $40 on a decent pair of orthotics that I wore in all street shoes and it did the trick with pain disappearing after a few days (I took break from cycling until the pain disappeared). Maybe talk to a chemist about it? That's what I did.

I wear padded cycling gloves and reckon they definitely help. You might also consider ergonomic grips and bar ends. But when the numbness strikes me I can always tell I've put too much weight forward and down onto the handlebars, and/or I'm guilty of the death grip.

One thing I've learned is that when something goes wrong it helps to take a step back and try a holistic view. Making any one change may help in one area but create another issue somewhere else.

Best of luck!

PS: I reckon you should also consider a pair of decent bike shoes, cleats and clipless SPD pedals. I was scared of the idea to begin with but it becomes second nature very quickly.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:56 pm

Hey iMad,

Talk to your GP about the shoulder pain. It's probably a combination of several factors, e.g. fair wear & tear, bike set up, technique, training regime, etc. He / she should be able to identify the causes and formulate a suitable course of treatment and / or management.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:35 am

Thanks Waramatt and Downhill (and everyone else)
I'm working on a few things at the moment and the gloves do seem to help a bit.
I'm seeing my GP in the next couple of days on Blood Pressure issues (I'm on medication and mine has been as low as 96/45) and I'll talk about the shoulder too.
At the moment I'm most concerned with my fluctuating blood pressure.
Getting old sucks (as the youngsters say)
Cheers
Tony
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:18 pm

Yeah, getting old sucks. But at least we've lived long enough for it to get that way!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Johndec » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:56 pm

Hi iMad. I'm younger than you but no spring chicken at 50.. Like you, I've lost 20kg since I started riding 8 months ago. Also like you, I started on a Trek hybrid and suffered terribly from numb hands and shoulder pain. I believe that a lot of the problem was the fact that your hands are stuck in the one position riding a flat bar bike. I tried buying some end bars to get a different position but Trek in its' dubious wisdom has those foam inserts in the handlebars which make fitting end bars impossible.

Anyway, I ended up buying a drop bar road bike in November and really haven't looked back. The ability to move your hands to three different positions (drops,hoods,bar) mean that when the tingles start you can move to a different position and alleviate it. Good gel gloves help too. I use pearl izumi brand and recommend them (get them off amazon, much cheaper than local prices).

With the sort of kilometres you are doing, you will really enjoy a proper road bike. Just make sure you buy from somewhere that will take the time to fit you to the bike properly.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:52 am

Downhill wrote:Yeah, getting old sucks. But at least we've lived long enough for it to get that way!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Yeah, I remember my dear old Mum saying "Never complain about getting old, so many never make it." :lol:
Johndec wrote:Hi iMad. I'm younger than you but no spring chicken at 50.. Like you, I've lost 20kg since I started riding 8 months ago. Also like you, I started on a Trek hybrid and suffered terribly from numb hands and shoulder pain. I believe that a lot of the problem was the fact that your hands are stuck in the one position riding a flat bar bike. I tried buying some end bars to get a different position but Trek in its' dubious wisdom has those foam inserts in the handlebars which make fitting end bars impossible.

Anyway, I ended up buying a drop bar road bike in November and really haven't looked back. The ability to move your hands to three different positions (drops,hoods,bar) mean that when the tingles start you can move to a different position and alleviate it. Good gel gloves help too. I use pearl izumi brand and recommend them (get them off <a class="vglnk" title="Link added by VigLink" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.amazon.com/">amazon</a>, much cheaper than local prices).

With the sort of kilometres you are doing, you will really enjoy a proper road bike. Just make sure you buy from somewhere that will take the time to fit you to the bike properly.

I guess the reason I didn't buy a roadie in the beginning was that, at my size, I'd have looked like an elephant on a toothpick :lol:
I've slimmed down a bit now but still have a lot of work to do, like another 15kg at least.
I've spoken to my LBS, where I bought the Trek 8.5 DS and they didn't think there'd be an issue with fitting bar ends? I hope they're right.
Cheers guys.

EDIT: I went to my GP yesterday and he's stoked at my progress. All he said about my shoulder was "you get into some strange positions for long periods riding a bike, so it's probably a neck issue. Go see a good physiotherapist."
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:39 pm

iMad wrote:EDIT: I went to my GP yesterday and he's stoked at my progress. All he said about my shoulder was "you get into some strange positions for long periods riding a bike, so it's probably a neck issue. Go see a good physiotherapist."


Sounds about right. I read somewhere that pain around the scapula is usually linked to neck problems. Neck problems on bikes are often linked to supporting too much load on the hands / wrists / arms, which in turn is linked to bike set up.

Riding with your arms too straight can cause problems too, because it transfers the road shock straight up your arms to your shoulders & neck. If your arms are slightly bent they act like a leaf-spring and dampen the shock. Your grip should be light, but firm, and your forearms & shoulders should be relaxed. Of course, you can't relax your arms if you weight is too far forward.

You mentioned that you experienced tingling in your left hand and pain in your left shoulder. Could you be carrying more of the load through your left side? Are the 'bars centered and aligned with the front wheel? Is the seat aligned to the frame? Do you carry a back pack at all, and if so, are the shoulder straps tensioned correctly?

Don't forget what happens when you're off the bike too. I used to have neck problems on the same day every week until I realised that it was caused by the shoulder strap on my gym bag! Even things like carrying a heavy bag in your left hand while fumbling for your door key with your right, or leaning on your left elbow while reading forums like these can contribute to uneven loading.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:17 am

Downhill wrote:Sounds about right. I read somewhere that pain around the scapula is usually linked to neck problems. Neck problems on bikes are often linked to supporting too much load on the hands / wrists / arms, which in turn is linked to bike set up.

Riding with your arms too straight can cause problems too, because it transfers the road shock straight up your arms to your shoulders & neck. If your arms are slightly bent they act like a leaf-spring and dampen the shock. Your grip should be light, but firm, and your forearms & shoulders should be relaxed. Of course, you can't relax your arms if you weight is too far forward.

You mentioned that you experienced tingling in your left hand and pain in your left shoulder. Could you be carrying more of the load through your left side? Are the 'bars centered and aligned with the front wheel? Is the seat aligned to the frame? Do you carry a back pack at all, and if so, are the shoulder straps tensioned correctly?

Don't forget what happens when you're off the bike too. I used to have neck problems on the same day every week until I realised that it was caused by the shoulder strap on my gym bag! Even things like carrying a heavy bag in your left hand while fumbling for your door key with your right, or leaning on your left elbow while reading forums like these can contribute to uneven loading.

Thanks for your feedback Downhill. I'm finding that the bike riding thing is now beginning to create a bunch of niggling injuries. I don't know if that's the usual or if I've over-trained or indeed if it's poor bike fit? I generally feel very comfortable on the bike until my hands and shoulder kick in :cry:

Yes, this shoulder thing is really starting to annoy me. Sometimes (like now) it's a deep burn on the rear of my shoulder. At other times it's like a strong itch. Either way it's a nuisance.
I'm seeing my physio on Monday for my Plantar Faciitis problem so I'm going to nail her to look at my neck and shoulder.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby ming » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:58 pm

From my experience, you might find that the cause of your numbness problem could be attributed to possible neck problems.
get your neck/back checked out ,especially if you have returned to physical exercise after a long lay off. It could be that your body has stiffened up due to the sudden increase in physical activity. As well get your LBS to set your bike up properly, its well worth it.
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:43 pm

iMad wrote:Thanks for your feedback Downhill. I'm finding that the bike riding thing is now beginning to create a bunch of niggling injuries. I don't know if that's the usual or if I've over-trained or indeed if it's poor bike fit? I generally feel very comfortable on the bike until my hands and shoulder kick in :cry: .


Keep in mind that your body will put on muscle mass quite quickly. In contrast, in can take months or years to acquire the appropriate skills & knowledge (which includes setting up the bike correctly to suit your riding style). Meanwhile the mismatch between strength & skill causes the niggles.

The niggles are part of the normal progression of things. They show you where the current limits are, and things start to hurt when you exceed them. As you identify and eliminate each of the causes, it will automatically allow you to push the limits further and further. If some of the causes relate to poor bike fit, then correcting the fit will lead to rapid results.

Over training is definitely a possibility. The body needs time to recover. The older we get the longer it takes, so prevention is way better than cure.

You indicated that the pain kicks after a certain distance. I suggest scaling back the distance until the symptoms disappear. Give the body a chance to heal, then slowly increase the training again. With your GP and Physio's permission of course!
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby iMad » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:22 pm

Downhill wrote:Over training is definitely a possibility. The body needs time to recover. The older we get the longer it takes, so prevention is way better than cure.

You indicated that the pain kicks after a certain distance. I suggest scaling back the distance until the symptoms disappear. Give the body a chance to heal, then slowly increase the training again. With your GP and Physio's permission of course!

Only the pain in my shoulder (burning pain in left shoulder blade) and discomfort and numbness in my hands. They kick in around 5km into my rides. The rest is 'all good'.
I'm doing 27km without too much problem otherwise (except last Thursday where I bonked big time). I've been completely wasted for the past 4 days since with some sort of viral infection I think. :(
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Re: Old blokes, bikes and injuries

Postby Downhill » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:46 am

iMad wrote:Only the pain in my shoulder (burning pain in left shoulder blade) and discomfort and numbness in my hands. They kick in around 5km into my rides.


I'm no expert, but it sounds like a "bike fit" problem.

I used to get a lot of neck pain after only 2 km or so. It disappeared virtually overnight when I shortened the stem from 150mm to 100mm.

Last week my back was so stiff after only 30 km that I could hardly take my shoes off. (For the record my riding partner was in his mid 60's and I got absolutely flogged). During the week I adjusted my seat height and fore / aft position. Yesterday I was able to do over 100 km with no back pain at all. Tweaking the seat position made a big difference.

It might be worth moving your seat closer to the bars by a centimetre or so. That way you won't have to reach forward as far, which means you'd be more upright, which in turn means less of a load on your wrists, arms, shoulders & neck. If you do move the seat forward, you might have to increase the height by a couple of millimetres also. Mark the current positions on your seat post & rails before you make any changes so that you can change it back again if you need to.

Try riding a couple of k's with the new seat position. If the "pain free" limit changes at all then you will have identified one of the causes.
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