Start the spring and summer biking season off well with a Bike Fit.

What comes to your mind when you think about getting your bike “fit”?  Most people think of when you first buy your bike and the bike shop properly sizes your bike and quickly adjusts your seat to the standard height for you.  Often this is the last time your bike gets adjusted – even though you now may have a total knee or hip replacement, recently acquired lower back pain, or developed any number of other orthopedic injuries related to being one year older while trying to maintain your active lifestyle.  Many people don’t realize that their bike should be adjusted to optimize the efficiency and comfort of their bike for their specific body – malalignment, injuries, surgeries, and all.  How your bike is adjusted can greatly impact whether or not you will be able to ride this year without pain.

Bike fitting is a crucial component to injury prevention because cycling is such a repetitive activity.   A cyclist performs 200-300 revolutions/mile while riding.  When a bike is not properly fit, cumulative trauma disorders in the foot, knee, hip, or spine become much more likely.  However, small adjustments in alignment can take pressure off injured tissue and transfer load to tissue that is better able to tolerate the stress.  For example, if your saddle is too low it will increase the strain on your knees and quadriceps and will increase the likelihood of developing patellar tendonitis or patellar femoral pain.  However, if your saddle is too high you decrease the strain on your quadriceps but increase the strain on the hamstrings and lower back.  This increasing your risk of lower back pain, hamstring tendonitis, and pes anserine bursitis.    Your own personal body alignment and range of motion constraints may require foot position adjustments, changes in saddle position, and altering the stem height and angle.  

At Great Northern Physical Therapy we are excited to offer truly customized bike fitting for every cyclist, whether you are an older cyclist trying to maintain and active lifestyle, a competitive triathlete, a mountain biking enthusiast, or a daily commuter.  Your bike will be fit to optimize your activity goals, physical strengths and limitations, unique body structure, and injuries.  When your bike fit is complete, we will have you riding more efficiently, more comfortably, and with less risk of injury.  So, do yourself a favor and call Great Northern Physical Therapy and we will help you maximize your riding experience this year.

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Breathing and Your Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is certainly a hot topic of conversation for many men and women. Specifically, people begin to focus on their pelvic floor when they are having incontinence, urgency/frequency, prolapse, or pain associated with going to the bathroom or having sex. These are all issues related to pelvic floor dysfunction. But, what many don’t realize, is that your pelvic floor is also integral in one of our most basic functions: breath.

The diaphragm, our respiratory muscle, is located at the bottom of the ribcage. At rest, the diaphragm is a domelike shape, and with inhalation the diaphragm muscle contracts and drops downward toward your pelvis. This downward motion is followed by a shifting downward of internal organs, into the pelvic bowl. The pelvic floor muscles and fascia make up the bottom of the pelvic bowl. So, with this downward force during inhalation, the pelvic floor muscles also descend or stretch slightly downward. Immediately following inhalation and pelvic floor descent, is exhalation, and similarly, the pelvic floor follows the diaphragm as it rises upward to a resting position. This synchronous rising and falling of the diaphragm and pelvic floor is often referred to as the “piston effect”.

Not to be left out, the lower abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis) also contribute to this synchronous movement pattern. Working together by relaxing and stretching with inhalation and a “belly breath”, and tightening and drawing inward slightly with exhalation. In this way, the diaphragm, abdominals, and pelvic floor make up an abdominal cylinder that modulates intra-abdominal forces and pressure changes.

When this cylinder isn’t coordinating well together, or if there is tightness or weakness within the system, we see common musculoskeletal complaints: low back pain, SIJ pain, poor stability through the back and pelvis, hip pain, pelvic pain, incontinence, urgency/frequency of urine or stool, prolapse, poor posture, balance issues, and intolerance to exercise.

Our pelvic floor physical therapists can help evaluate these movement patterns and coordination of these systems, and create a treatment approach specific to you and your individual challenges.