Case Studies

Here’s an inside glimpse of some of the clients who have been treated at Breakaway Bodyworks:

Case Study: A Competitive Cyclist with Back Pain 

A male competitive cyclist in his 40s came to me with lower back pain. It was cyclocross season and he had extreme pain and could hardly lift his legs to clear the barriers. His goal was to be able to compete at Cross Nats, which were just a few months away.

He had injured his back a decade ago in an accident mountain biking. His job required him to look up quite a bit, so his neck held this posture even when he wasn’t at work. I also noticed that his right foot turned out quite a bit and his back rounded during the squat assessment. His right shoulder dropped and rounded forward. Bringing his leg toward his body was painful and he had a history of a groin pull.

Muscle testing revealed that his lumbar was performing extension with the help of the sub occipitals in his neck. His glutes, hamstrings and multifidus were under working while his low back took over, resulting in pain and decreased performance.

A tight left hip flexor was mirroring the right, rounded shoulder and the two were bracing for one another. He noted how tight his hamstrings were and his lack of flexibility. When we tested them, the hamstrings were actually weak and didn’t need to be released. Using a foam roller on them would have just made them weaker and more painful over time. When we activated his glute max and released the lumbar, the hamstrings calmed down, relaxed and began to lengthen on their own.

We worked on finding and teaching his body how to use the individual vertebrae responsible for back extension and I taught him how to activate his glutes and reinforce this through homework. We also worked on isolating neck flexion to help bring his neck out of a constant state of extension.

By the third session, he was able to race (and win!) without back pain. I provided him with a warmup that helped activate his extensors to take the load off the low back before riding at race pace.

We still needed to address the right foot, which remained turned out. Testing it revealed an overactive right side of his body. This didn’t make sense to me until he revealed that he doesn’t dismount on the left side of the bike, as is traditionally taught in cross. He dismounts on the right.

I balanced the right side of his body through massage and muscle testing and provided drills to strengthen his feet and help maintain this new position. He slowly adjusted his cleats as his body assimilated the work and found it to be a more powerful position on the bike.

He went on to compete at nationals with no pain.

Case Study: Cyclist with Back and Neck pain 

A cyclist in her 30s presented with lower back and neck pain. She also had pain on the outside of her knees.

She had valgus knees and leaned into her quads when performing a squat.

During her first session, we worked on calming down the nervous system through breathing and techniques to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This instantly helped to relax the back of her body.

We began working to bring balance to her hips, which were pulled into an anterior pelvic tilt through a tight iliacus. This, along with inhibited external rotators, were also causing an internal rotation of the femurs, setting the stage for the valgus knees.

I provided her with homework to help keep her pelvis stable. I also taught her how to relax her nervous system at home and a few quick ways to take stress off her system.

By the next session, she was learning how to engage her core and we connected the hip work to the shoulders to help provide support for her neck. We also worked on activating her lateral lines and external rotators, which were one of the reasons why she was feeling the back pain and that her femurs were internally rotated.

By the end of the session, her knees were separated and she could feel the difference. The next session she reported how people had noticed her walking differently and the changes continue to hold (with occasional tweaks) over a year later.

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