Bones, Hips & Harmony

hip bone

I’ve been long overdue for some good news. Finally, over the last couple weeks, I got some.

When my Dexa scan results showed abysmally low density in my femurs, my sports orthopaedist was alarmed. As he put it, this changed the narrative of my injury. More on that in a moment.

He referred me to my general practitioner to dictate a plan of action.

Through my GP, I had just about every test known to man just to make sure there are no underlying causes. The tests showed that everything is normal. In fact, everything looks pretty good. I’m overall a healthy guy across the board. That’s the good news.

So why are my bones so weak? We had a good talk about it. First of all, as noted by the New York Times in this interesting article, bicycling can be bad for you bones. They conducted a study of professional cyclists, and surprisingly found that a percentage of them suffered from low bone density, some of which are in osteopenia or even osteoporosis ranges. It isn’t the act of cycling that hurts you, but more the neglect of other type of bone strengthening exercises.

I later spoke with a Biology teacher about it, and she gave a good analogy with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Before he was a champion bodybuilder, he had a smaller skeleton. As he progressed with all that weight bearing, his skeleton size increased. He required a stronger skeleton in order to maintain such massive muscles. The same is true for cyclists, and I recommend everyone work in some lower body weight bearing activities into their routine.

After seeing the test results, my GP was not as alarmed. He said that it needs to come under control, but he wants to try changes in diet for now. We can try more weight bearing through physical therapy to start, and eventually through serious exercise.

Now, back to the hip. After Tour de Midlands and Assault on Mount Mitchell, I was worried that the injury had suffered a setback. Now, I think that’s not the case.

When my sports med doctor saw my bone results, he suggested that I start climbing out of the saddle to work a little weight bearing into my routine. Six months ago, he had suggested that climbing out of the saddle is how I suffered the injury in the first place. Taking his advice on these last two rides, I stood up frequently just so that I worked some variety into the ride. Not so coincidentally, both rides brought me a fair amount of pain. This past weekend I stayed in the saddle, and felt only a little bit of pain, with no lingering problems afterward.

Yep, the narrative is getting clearer. Standing up appears to be what put me down. There probably is something behind that, but the focus is becoming more narrow. Time is on our side, with France still over a year away. There is plenty of time to try and rehabilitate without surgery. I should be able to do some serious riding in the meantime.

4 responses to “Bones, Hips & Harmony

  • bgddyjim

    Ah, running (or jogging as the case probably should be after you’re cleared) builds bone density. Probably not wise right now but it would be something to look into. Glad for the good news brother.

    • aaronwest

      The docs have suggested running at some point, but that’ll be further down the road. Probably start with low impact weight bearing (probably through PT) until my hip recovers further.

  • kruzmeister

    That is great new Alex, I’m so glad you are finally getting some answers and a plan of attack to get yourself back to 100%. I’ve always been a big advocate of weight training in any sports (did so for years with my martial arts training and now with triathlon). This just goes to show the benefits of weight bearing exercise. I look forward to hearing about your progress! – Simone

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Simone. I did quite a bit of weight training last year, but that was after my bone was broken and I didn’t know it. Likely did more harm than good. This offseason should be better for weights.

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