This was an article I produced for the Orange County Wheelmen’s newsletter:
There is a common thread between some low back pain, Iliotibial band and thumb pain. When the large intestine is not functioning optimally pain, weakness and/or spasm can manifest in the thumb, the flank (quadratus lumborum) muscles of the low back or in the iliotibial band of the outer leg. IT Band Syndrome can produce pain in the outer knee or outer hip which effects many cyclists and runners alike. The good news is the problem is readily eliminated when appropriate lifestyle changes are instituted. Often the challenge is identifying the true cause. Is it bike fit, a food intolerance, or a nutrient deficiency?
For this article and group it will be assumed that you have already addressed bike fit. A saddle height that is to high may cause outer knee pain or flank area pain as one sways back and forth to compete the peddle stroke. Not to mention robbing valuable energy and power.
If any of these areas have given you grief chronically chances are pretty good that there is a food that you are eating which is causing the large intestine to dysfunction. A simple place to start might be to log your diet and note when the pain flairs. Did you eat whole wheat products, corn or possibly beef shortly before experiencing the pain? The food possibilities are diverse and different for many, but with determination and diligence can be identified.
Maybe the intestine has not been functioning properly since being sick or on an antibiotic regimen? If this is the case a good probiotic supplement may be in store. I typically find that probiotic supplements are best taken at bed time. Start with a high dose like six capsules for 1-2 weeks to initially repopulate the colon (intestine) then reducing to three at bed for another 1-2 weeks. Another supplement consideration for the colon is chlorophyll. Are you eating enough green leafy vegetables? They are one of the best preventers of colon cancer. Additional benefits for us aerobic athletes come from all the iron we derive from foods like spinach, kale and beets. Iron helps us carry that vital oxygen in the blood for enhanced stamina.
Got fiber? If you are not having 2-3 well formed bowel movements per day the colon is likely sluggish. You might benefit by consuming a good, not wheat based fiber product as well as increasing your veggie consumption. If there is also bloating experienced, digestive enzymes could well be the “Holy Grail” for you. The great news here is that digestive enzymes are also very anti-inflammatory.
There are some therapeutic points that may give you some relief while trying to ID the true cause. There is a very common acupuncture point named LI4 (pictured) on the thumb web which will be tender when active. Firm rubbing on the side of pain will often give some temporary relief of flank area low back pain, IT band pain or even head band pattern headaches. The popular rolling of the hip (pictured) also is a reflex area that helps to relax the colon.
I pray that this information is helpful in empowering you in the pursuit of optimal health. Follow me at https://www.facebook.com/drscott.vrzal for regular health pearls like these.
[May 2011 Archives] Got a proper bike fit this week. Today I rode 1 mile per hour faster at a heart rate that averaged 2 beats per minute lower than the next closest exactly matched ride. This means that I am 6.25% more efficient with my seat a mere 1 mm higher and 2 mm forward. Yes, I fanatically track everything, so that I can learn and help you all