THE PAIN-FREE CYCLIST
Author: Matt Robin and Robert Hicks
Date: June 2015
This book focuses on the limited range of injuries to which any cyclist will be more pre-disposed than non-cyclists, and which at best will make your cycling uncomfortable, if not impossible.
The day job of one of the authors (Dr Matt Rabin) is that of chiropractor and nutritionist for a professional cycle team, so as you might expect many of the pictures and references involve racing cyclists; however, the other author (Robert Hicks) writes for the Time Inc cycling titles (such as Cycling Fitness or Cycling Weekly), including on many of the topics covered in the book, and the result is relevant to anyone who takes their cycling seriously.
In this book we get to understand more about what can go wrong with a cyclist’s body, and what to do about it. In my view as one who has suffered the occasional injury, and has no medical training, I felt that the level of information provided is generally appropriate and beneficial. There is an old adage that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ because it might lead people to believe that they were experts, but it is made clear that sometimes professional help is the best option - and there are frequent reminders for when that is the case.
The best thing to do with any pain is to prevent it happening in the first place, so the book spends a few pages reminding us why things like a good position on the bike, good core muscle strength, and a good warm up are so worthwhile for riders of any calibre.
At times the needs of the racing cyclist diverge from those of us who just want to enjoy our time in the saddle, and nowhere is this better illustrated than under the chapter of ‘preparing your mind’: one picture has the caption: “Don’t let the scenery distract you when riding”. For most of us, admiring that very scenery is precisely why we ride.
Reviewed by Richard Peploe
The best thing to do with any pain is to prevent it happening in the first place
Next up the book runs through the various treatment ‘tools’ available, from ice and heat, through medication and massage, to foam rollers and Kinesio tape. Sometimes the authors have to get involved in matters of opinion rather than fact, and the benefits of Kinesio tape is one such area. They are right to cover it because it is used so frequently, and the book shows you how to apply it properly - but sensibly advises that “if you find you’re using the tape on a regular basis just to get you through, go back through the section of the book that relates to the related injury and work through the appropriate rehab programme to get the injury fully resolved”.
When we get on to the most common aches that afflict cyclists, with a ‘top 10’ headed up by those old favourites of knee pain and lower back pain. Each chapter explains how to recognise a problem and the symptoms, what the cause might be, and of course how to treat it. This is supplemented with some helpful diagrams, and the experience of a pro cyclist who has suffered such an injury.
What becomes very apparent is just how inter-related one part of the body is with another, so a failure in one place can manifest itself in many ways – which can make diagnosis all the harder.
As you would expect from a book dedicated to cycling injuries, the fracture of a collar bone is one of the few breakages discussed, and not surprisingly there is a greater emphasis on professional help here.
In a round-up of assorted ailments, matters such as the common cold and saddle sores are discussed; sadly it has to be accepted that there is no guaranteed prevention or cure for either, and they can affect cyclists at any level – but there is plenty of sensible advice here that is worth following.
The section of the book called Rehab covers all of the stretches and exercises that you know you should do regularly, but probably won’t until trying to recover from an injury. I think that you would have to be seriously committed (and/or a full time professional) to undertake everything suggested, but almost anyone could tackle a few routines – in some cases even while watching TV or sitting at a desk.
This book would be a valuable source of information when pain is present, but most of us would benefit just as much from the advice on preventing that pain in the first place. I am sure that similar information could be found elsewhere, but here you know that everything is focussed entirely on the needs of cyclist, and is backed by two well-qualified names in the field.
Images courtesy of the publisher.
REVIEW FIRST PUBLISHED 2015