The elite athletes who ride in the Tour Down Under have at least one thing in common with the recreational cyclist: they all need to protect their health and in particular their backs for long hours of leaning over the handlebars. Knee pain, neck and shoulder stiffness, low back pain and stiffness and numbness in hands and feet all threaten the cyclist's performance.
A long-time advocate of chiropractic, South Australian cycle champion Stuart O'Grady says that the hilly, scenic terrain that makes the Tour Down Under such a popular television event can also put extreme stress on the spine.
Faced with these issues and more over the course of his career, O’Grady attributes his longevity on the European circuit to chiropractic care.
"I’ve been a professional bike rider on the European circuit for more than 15 years, and some would say I’ve been lucky to last that length of time,” O'Grady says. “But it hasn’t all been luck, it’s well documented I’ve been involved in several accidents during my riding career.
“I’ve always been treated around the world by and utilised the services of chiropractors - not just to heal but to minimise the risk all year around.”
Vice President of the Chiropractors Association of Australia SA (CAASA) Dr Billy Chow says the problems and injuries cyclists face often stem from bio-mechanical dysfunction of the spine and pelvis. A keen cyclist himself, Dr Chow has taken care of many professional cyclists at the Tour Down Under, including Stuart O'Grady.
"Chiropractors assist with maintenance of spinal function and we are proud to be playing an integral role in keeping our elite cyclists fit and well," Dr Chow said. "However it is important that all cyclists also seek professional advice when it comes to proper bike fit and set-up."
Stuart O'Grady says that he has noted a change in chiropractic services over the years.
"Chiropractors offer so much more, from newborns and children to sports people and seniors. The modern chiropractor has a wealth of knowledge and could assist you in becoming a healthier and wiser person when it comes to looking after yourself. Take it from me.”
Lance Armstrong is another high-profile example of a professional cyclist who has regular chiropractic care to keep his body fine-tuned and performing at its best. In his book ‘Every Second Counts’, Lance Armstrong says of his chiropractor: “while he fixed us physically, he also fixed us mentally...without him, we knew we’d never make it to Paris”. Armstrong was checked by his chiropractor twice a day during every one of his seven Tour De France wins.
HOW CYCLISTS CAN MIND THEIR BACKS
Chiropractor Dr Billy Chow, Vice President of the Chiropractors Association of Australia SA, has these tips for new cyclists:
1. Determine your correct bike frame size.
2. Determine your correct seat height.
3. Determine your correct fore/aft seat position.
4. Take time to build up your mileage. Jumping on your bike for the first time and trying to chase Lance up Norton Summit is a sure fire way to cause injuries.
5. Remember to take time to warm up prior to a ride and to do a post ride stretch.
6. Get your spine checked by chiropractor to help improve your overall health and performance and to stave off injury.
Leila Henderson, 0414 69 70 71, 08 8121 5264
The Chiropractors Association of Australia, South Australia (CAASA)
Members of the Chiropractors Association of Australia SA (CAASA) are registered, primary contact health professionals who undertake a minimum of five years of university training across three government universities in Australia.
Chiropractors usually work in their own private practice or in clinics with other healthcare professionals. They may also act as allied health consultants in areas including occupational health and safety, sport, rehabilitation, health insurance assessment and medico-legal advising.
Their tenet is that "Wellness is a lifelong process of assuming personal responsibility that empowers the individual to exercise choice, make informed decisions and take action towards a more balanced, dynamically sustainable and fulfilling existence in all dimensions of life."
About the Tour Down Under
Six days of competitive racing will see riders traverse over 800km across South Australia, with crowds of more than 500,000 expected to cheer the riders on along the routes, which take in the heart of Adelaide, the city surrounds, the Adelaide Hills, the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Barossa.
Organisers say new routes this year include Norwood to Mawson Lakes and Burnside Village to Angaston – and the new finish at Mawson Lakes is only the second time that a Tour stage finish has been held in the Adelaide metropolitan area.
Another new feature of the 2009 race will be additional Škoda King of the Mountain climbs, to further test the riders and add to the event’s excitement.
The dates of the 2009 Tour Down Under UCI ProTour event are: Sunday, 18 January - Sunday, 25 January.
P: 08 8121 5264
M: 0414 69 70 71