Thinking outside the treatment box gets keen cyclist back in the saddle

Sometimes it takes more than just one approach to unlock a full recovery and at the Wells Clinic we actively encourage our clients to keep an open mind and explore all the options.

This paid dividends for keen mountain biker Stephanie who had been experiencing such intense pain in her legs and lower back that she was considering giving up the sport she was passionate about.

When we met, she was no longer able to take part in MTB challenges and she was also concerned that she might have to abandon plans for a motorcycle holiday around Europe which would involve covering up to 200 miles a day.

Then a colleague encouraged her to explore myofascial release.

During Stephanie’s first session with me at the Wells Clinic, I established that she cycled 20 to 30 miles off-road 2 to 3 times a week and her job involved her sitting for eight to nine hours. Both of these were causing her serious problems.

We explored what would happen if she gave up cycling in the short term and although it could have delivered some benefits, it made more sense for her to carry on but to cut back on the mileage. By doing this, her body would adjust to the changes flowing from fascia release work while still moving in the way it was used to.

My approach was to address the over-compensation of Stephanie’s body and muscles with a mix of myofascial release and trigger point therapy along with a very specific self-treatment plan. One of her major challenges was muscles that didn’t know how to release! They had been held in a constant state of spasm for so long they no longer recognised being in a relaxed state.

Unravelling this involved a different approach.

Rather than ignoring Stephanie’s pain, we needed to be fully aware of it. The body always knows what it needs: it may deliver a niggle which if you ignore it becomes a pain. Ignore that and it can become a constant pain. All the while your body is shouting at you to address the underlying issue — it’s almost as if you’re being shouted at until you reach a point where you just can’t ignore it any more.

But by then the body may have become so wound up that we can only start unravelling it layer by layer — like peeling an onion. Eventually, we get to the source of the pain and we’re no longer just treating the symptoms.
The self-treatment programme she took home with her from the Wells Clinic addressed three key issues:

Deactivation of trigger points
Stretching exercises to complete before, during, and after cycling sessions
Foam roller techniques using the MELT fascia release method.

At the same time, Stephanie was working with a personal trainer who put her through her paces with specific strengthening exercises. She found that having someone checking her every move worked well — as did regular yoga classes, which included some excellent fascia-stretching routines.

Taking the multi-approach route has been hugely successful for Stephanie, and she was able to mountain bike and motorcycle throughout. Not only that, within three months of coming to the Wells Clinic, and after just five sessions, she set off on her motorcycle holiday and has since been able to actually increase her mountain bike mileage.

Her biggest takeaway? The knowledge she now has about her body, being able to listen to what it’s saying and adjust what she’s doing whenever a niggle threatens something more.

She also decided to continue having top-up sessions every few months to ensure all areas of her body stay attuned with each other during her continuing cycling endeavours.