Although it can be a relatively low impact sport, sore knees, aching shins, and back pain are all common complaints among seasoned cyclists. Add in the pressure on hip joints and shoulder muscles accumulated after a lifetime on the saddle, and it’s probably fair to say that most regular cyclists’ bodies are in need of some relief – especially if they’re planning on keeping up their hobby for years to come.
For many of these ailments, an effective way to ease the various pressures and demands being placed upon the body could be hydrotherapy, a physio treatment that uses a combination of water to heal and condition the body, pressure to remedy muscle pain and posture and temperature for circulatory and muscular issues.
How it’s done
When underwater, the body is positioned in a state of almost-weightlessness and the hydrostatic effects of the water’s movement can create a kneading effect on the skin and muscles. By increasing the speed at which the water is moving, therapists can amplify the pressure on muscles, increasing the effectiveness and the relief provided by the therapy.
Hot water treatment causes sweating and vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels) and can be very effective for treating sore muscles, arthritis and poor circulation. Cold water will stimulate vasoconstriction (the tightening of the blood vessels) and help to work underlying muscles that are hard for masseuses to reach.
Added Health Benefits
As well as aiding cycling injuries and complaints there are other added health benefits to hydrotherapy: it can increase your metabolic rate and hydrate cells, helping with skin and muscle production. It can also increase blood flow to vital organs and boost the immune system. Saunas and steam rooms are also a natural and effective way to increase the amount of waste your body produces (detoxification).
What to consider when looking for hydrotherapy
Before trying hydrotherapy, it is advisable to visit a physician to seek advice on any muscular or skeletal issues you may be experiencing. Once you have an understanding of your problems and are able to describe them, most clinics will provide a specialised programme for your treatment. It is also possible to find clinics that offer drop-in sessions, which can be a great way to trial hydrotherapy before you spend a lot of money on a full course.
For a cyclist recovering from a serious injury there is now the option of the underwater bike or spa-bike facility. This is an ideal way for cyclists with injuries to regain their strength, as it works most of the major muscle groups used for cycling. It also uses the water jets to focus and massage the muscles as the workout continues, targeting particular muscle groups if necessary and helping towards a full and speedy recovery.
Where to find hydrotherapy
Most GPs will be able to provide advice on gaining access to hydrotherapy and some treatments are even available on the NHS. However if you’d like to look into a private course it shouldn’t take more than a quick Google search to find a clinic in your area. Be sure to check customer reviews and testimonials and perhaps try a taster session before committing to a full course.
John Woosey is a content writer for Cycleplan