Cycling and Spine Health [Video]

Summit Orthopedics + YMCA Community Partnership Video Series

Summit Orthopedics Spine Physician Erik Ekstrom, M.D., and YMCA Senior Director of Wellness Jennifer Menk discuss how building strong core muscles is helpful for cycling, types of back pain that commonly affect cyclists, and the benefits of having an established workout program.

Meet Erik Ekstrom, M.D.

Dr. Ekstrom’s approach: “I believe in listening to patients and making them feel comfortable. For me, the most gratifying part of the work is finding the problem and fixing it so patients can return to their usual activities.”

Dr. Ekstrom’s education: Dr. Ekstrom studied at Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota as an undergraduate student, and after graduating he earned a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology degree at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud. Later he completed his medical degree and residency at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise

Summit Orthopedics’ Spinecare program is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.

Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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Video Transcription

Now, I’m a big believer in establishing a good core workout program. And what I’m referring to is your abdominals and your back extensors for the most part, okay? Biking does not specifically train that group of muscles. And that being said, they’re important to help you be successful in cycling. Those core muscles help your power, they help your bike control, and plus, they prevent pain and injury to the spine. In cycling, you’re in a very forward placed posture, or your flexion biased kind of activity, you could say. At least half of us cyclists are gonna have some back pain. The neck, about 30 percent of the cyclist population gets some kind of a neck injury and that kind of falls into other injuries that can occur with cycling, like knee or shoulder and so forth. The biggest one with the back is what I would just simply describe as mechanical back pain. And that could be an overuse injury, it could be just a muscle strain and again that could be for the back and or for the neck. The other thing is more specific for the aged cyclist is arthritis. Cycling is a very static activity to both the neck and the back. And those joints want movement, so if you lose that movement, they can start to be a source of pain. For me personally, is that window between when I’m doing my cross-country ski season and cycling, there’s just that time where you can’t do either. So I’ll either hit my trainer, I also go do some classes. It’s just nice to be with people, what I love about classes is they bring all the parts of what we need to be doing for cycling, all in one hour or so. – It’s important not only to be able to go at your top speed all the time, but also to be able to have the endurance and last at the lower levels as well. So it really gives you that spectrum of training and the different levels. Because even a performance cyclist, if they’re out on the road or doing many, many miles in a day, they can’t go sprinting the whole time. So they really need to learn how to work on that endurance and that sustainability, so that they can train for longer races and for potentially harder races. – You know I have my days when I do this specific interval training, or this particular long ride and this lactate training moment and so forth. And classes bring it all together and besides being good for yourself to be a better cyclist, be in better condition and all those health benefits, your great knowledge base on what have you got to think about when you cycle? How can you train this way or that way to improve your performance, for example? And so that’s what I really enjoy about being in a class and actually just hanging out with a bunch of other sweaty people.

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  • Erik J. Ekstrom, M.D.

    “I believe in listening to patients and making them feel comfortable. For me, the most gratifying part of the work is finding the problem and fixing it so patients can return to their usual activities.”

    More about this expert

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