Triathletes routinely put themselves through rigorous exercise and activities that put extreme stress on their bodies. When muscles are overly tired or not properly rested between workouts, especially long bike rides, they can become stressed or strained causing painful spasms or strains. Muscle pain is typically localized to a specific part of the body and does not cause radiating pain as seen with a pinched nerve. The muscles that run along both sides of the spine are common sites for localized muscle pain for athletes.
The best way to treat this muscle pain is to prevent it. Make sure that your body is well rested and that your muscles are stretched and loose prior to your work out. Alternate your workouts so that some muscle groups get rested and use proper body positioning, especially while cycling. Certain stretches may help to loosen muscles and help you avoid injury or keep slight injuries from worsening. Stretches such as shoulder shrugs, stretching the head down toward each shoulder and tilting the head back and looking toward the ceiling in reps of 10 will help keep your neck and shoulders loose.
If you already have a neck sprain, there are several management techniques to help heal the muscle. Rest the injured muscle group to prevent worsening of the sprain. Try an over the counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen as directed to help decrease swelling and pain. A professional massage may significantly help with pain and to release the tightness in the affected and surrounding muscles.
While rest, OTC medications, stretching and massage are great places to start, if there is no improvement or if the pain is worsening, you should meet with your doctor for examination and recommendations for treatment. A sprain or stressed muscle should heal in about two weeks with proper rest and treatment. If your symptoms are prolonged NewSouth NeuroSpine can help you move toward a more pain-free lifestyle.