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Motorcycles

Motorcycles (1)

01 Nov

Although, for some, riding a motorcycle is the epitome of summer fun (or spring or autumn), for others, it can be a pain – literally. From the muscle cramps and fatigue to the back aches, neck pain and wrist stiffness, pain can oftentimes ruin this quintessential warm-weather activity. But, fortunately, there are some steps you can take that will keep you going strong for the rest of the season.

Sitting Position

Your motorcycle type will go a long way toward helping – or harming – your pain levels. The best motorcycles to help prevent pain are standard ones that allow you to sit with your back straight, your feet directly below your body and your arms and hands straight in front of you.

Cruisers are the second best option for your body. On many of these bikes, your body will still be able to maintain a pretty straight posture, although your legs will be in a less favorable position, putting more of your weight on your butt and back – and therefore on your spine. Also, try to avoid bikes with “extreme ape” handlebars, which can both strain your shoulders and cause hand and arm pain.

In the least favorable category are sport bikes, on which you lean forward and oftentimes curve your back outward, putting your spine in a very unnatural position. These bikes also require you to have your feet behind you and your hands lower than your arms, creating more stress – and pain – in your arms and legs.

Core Strengthening

Even on bikes that allow for straight posture, many – if not most – riders still find themselves slouching. In this position, your shoulders will be arched forward, as will your back, putting increased stress on your spine, causing pain and leaving you more prone to injuries. The goal is to straighten your back and keep it that way throughout the ride. This takes core strength.

To achieve core strength, core strengthening exercises should be included as part of a regular exercise schedule. (Aerobic exercise is a critical element since it will help with weight loss, which will take excess weight off the spine.) A plank and modified plank (where you’re resting on your knees instead of your feet) are two good core exercises, as are lunges and squats. Other exercises include:

  • Abdominal Brace with Leg Extension: Lie on your back with your knees bent and abs tightened. Kick one leg out while keeping your back straight, then slowly lower it. Repeat this 10 times with each leg.
  • Superman on Bed: Lie face down with your arms at your sides and your head hanging off the bed. With your chin tucked, lift your head up until your back is straight. Pull your shoulder blades together and lift your arms off the bed. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 times. Do this 2-3 times per day.
  • 4-Point Hip Extension: Start on your hands and knees with your abs tightened. Extend one leg behind you for a few seconds, then bring it back down. Repeat with the other leg.

Stretching

Sitting in a single position while riding causes joints and muscles to stiffen. Stretching and movement – which relax the muscles and lubricate the joints – are therefore important components of a comfortable ride.

While it may not be possible to get off your bike to stretch and walk around every 30 minutes, try to do it as much as possible. Take advantage of rest stop breaks to do some simple arm, leg, back and neck exercises. You can also try to work movement into your ride: Raise and drop your shoulders, straighten your legs out for a few seconds (one at a time), or even move your elbows around briefly. If you have cruise control, use it on long stretches and take the opportunity to move your wrists and hands around.

Simple Adjustments

There are some other simple things you can do to reduce pain while on the road.

  • Hydration matters – no matter the temperature. Dehydration can cause slower reaction times and even cognitive impairment
  • Adjust your bike where possible. If your seat or handlebars are adjustable, take the time to make them as ergonomic as possible. Even a slight tweak could save you from pain in the future.

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