For those of us becoming more active now that nice weather is here, riding a bicycle can be a good form of exercise.  An average person biking at 12-14 mph. will burn 633 calories an hour!!  This is a higher  amount of calories burned than walking, golfing, canoeing or mowing the lawn!  The only common activity that will burn more calories is running.

The muscles most used when riding a bike are the large quadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh and the large muscle in your butt – the gluteus maximus.

If we are just starting out on our bikes for the first time this year, or especially if it has been even longer, these muscles may complain (in the form of “burning” while riding +/or soreness the next day or two).  If you build up their strength, they are less likely to “complain.”  For both of these muscles, you can stand sideways to a stair, put the closer leg/foot up on the step and keep it there.  Then raise your body up to that level and down repeatedly (30-50 repetitions is a good goal!).

It is also good to stretch the quad muscle, especially AFTER riding.  To do this, reach behind you when you are standing, grab your foot (or shoe or pant leg) and pull it up toward your butt while standing up tall.  You want to hold this stretch for at least 10 seconds and do it 2-3 times.

Another good stretch after biking is the standing backbend.   Since you will have been bent over for an extended period, you want to reverse that by leaning backwards, with your hands on your hips for leverage and repeat it 5-10 times. This will reduce lower back strain.

Of course, these exercises could be modified if you are unable to do them. If that is necessary, contact your favorite Certified Personal Trainer or Physical Therapist!

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are many common causes of this problem.  Fooling some people, it often causes pain down the side of the upper arm.  The neck can also radiate pain to the shoulder and/or arm, so it is important to rule that out. Shoulder pain is one of the most commom problems affecting the joints and muscles, after back pain and neck pain. In addition, shoulder pain tends to persist.  50% of people still have problems up to a year after it begins. 

 To help determine if the neck is contributing to your pain, one sign is the exact lcation of the pain.  If the pain is between neck and shoulder (including the shoulder blade), it is more often coming from the neck.  Another symptom that is more likely from the neck is numbness and tingling in the arm or hand.  If the pain or tingling is below the shoulder it could be from the shoulder or from the neck.  In most cases, shoulder pain will be reproduced by moving the shoulder and arm (lifting it to the front or side, or putting your hand behind your back pocket).  If it mainly aches when your are sitting and not with arm use, it is more likely from the neck.

As you may have noticed, Brewer Physical Therapy now has a new website. Courtesy of the folks at Pulse Marketing Bangor, it includes the blog you are now reading - expect to hear more from us!

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