• Common Cycling Injuries and How to Prevent Them

    Common Cycling Injuries and How to Prevent Them

    Cycling can be an amazing form of exercise. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it also is a great workout. Like all forms of exercise a number of common injuries are also associated with the sport.

    Here are the common injuries along with how to prevent these injuries. If you have been experiencing pain that has lasted for more than two weeks it’s a good idea to see a medical professional to get treatment. Having your bike professionally fit by a physical therapist can go a long way to helping treat and prevent cycling related aches and pains.

    Knee Pain

    Over 40% of recreational riders will experience knee pain from cycling. Knee pain is a very common issue for riders of all skill levels. Most knee problems experienced on the bike involve an issue with bike fit. Pain experienced at the front of your knee can mean that you have your bike seat positioned too low. If you are experiencing pain behind the knee that usually means that your bike seat is adjusted too high. Those are just a few of the many examples of how a bike fit problem can cause pain.

    Knee pain can also be triggered by over training. This happens when you ride too far too soon or add in a lot of climbs. This pain can also be triggered when you don’t give yourself any rest days in between bike rides. If your bike does not have a proper gear ratio, including a good low gear this can also cause knee pain.

    A great knee pain prevention measure is to stretch before a ride. Stretching will improve your range of motion and help your kneecap to track properly while you are pedaling the bike. Having a strong core is very important to prevent knee pain. The more fatigued you get the sloppier your riding technique gets.

    Foot Pain

    Foot pain is another common issue encountered by cyclists. That is because even though cycling is a low impact sport the feet are doing the most work. The most common foot problems are hot foot and plantar fasciitis.

    Hot foot is when you experience a burning sensation, pain, or numbness on the bottom of the foot. The foot is susceptible to this condition because all of the nerves running along the bottom of the foot. Those nerves can have a lot of pressure put on them while peddling the bike. This is especially true if you have an improper bike fit or poor fitting shoes.

    The time of year you are riding in can affect the fit of your shoe and the bike shoe not fitting right can cause hot foot. In the summer feet can swell making your shoe much tighter creating conditions where getting hot foot is more likely. A good remedy to this problem is to make sure that your shoe is loosened up and to also make sure to buy a shoe with extra room to accommodate foot swelling. If you experience hot foot in the winter you could be wearing socks that are too tick and hinder getting proper blood flow to the foot. Finding thin and warm socks is the key to not getting hot foot in the winter.

    Plantar fasciitis is another common issue that can happen to cyclists. This condition happens with the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your forefoot. If this condition is left untreated it can cause bone spurs to form. If you have plantar fasciitis make sure you have the proper shoe fit, it can really help. Custom foot orthotics for your cycling shoes can help to prevent or treat the condition. Another issue that can contribute to plantar fasciitis is riding the bike with your seat too low. While cycling your legs should be nearly straight at the fullest extension.

    Low Back Pain

    Low back pain is a problem that is frequently experienced while cycling. This problem can be caused by poor posture while on the bike and during your daily life such as hunching over a computer all day at work. Another big issue can be not moving around enough during the day. Lack of daily movement can trigger back pain on your bike. If you are at work all day do your best to get up and move around as much as you can, possibly even getting a desk that allows you to alternate between sitting or standing.

    Core muscle strength is very important for cycling, because not having a strong core can cause low back pain. Hip immobility can also result in back pain during your ride. Riding too far too fast can cause back pain. Never increase your weekly mileage more than 20% to 25%.

    There are a few preventative measures that you can take to help prevent low back pain while on your ride. Staying in one position for too long during your ride can cause back pain. The best way to help with this is to change positions as often as possible during your ride such as standing up while riding downhill. Another very important step to take is to make sure when you buy a bike that the frame is the correct size for your body. The experts at the bike shop should be able to help you with sizing. A bike frame that is too big for you will cause back pain. A bike fit can also work wonders for preventing or stopping low back pain.

    Hand and Wrist Pain

    Cyclists experience pain in the wrist and hands commonly. At least 31% of all cyclists will have hand or wrist pain at some point while enjoying their sport. With some simple modifications pain in this area can usually be avoided. Wearing padded bike gloves is a very important step to help prevent hand and wrist pain. During the ride keep moving your hands around, leaving your hands in one spot for too long can cause pain. Sitting in a more upright position on the bike will help take a lot of the pressure off of your hands. While going over bumps keep your elbows bent for better shock absorption.

    A common condition of the hand that is caused by cycling is called handlebar palsy. With this condition you will experience a tingling or numb sensation in the ring finger and the little finger. Handlebar palsy happens when too much pressure is applied to the ulnar nerve for an extended period of time. This condition can last weeks or even months and can be attributed to a bike fit problem in most cases.

    Carpal Tunnel can happen from cycling. This condition is when there is an overall weakness of the hand. The weakness is accompanied by a tingling sensation along the thumb, pointer, middle, and ring fingers. Carpal tunnel happens because of too much pressure on the median nerve. In cycling it happens when the handlebars are griped tightly for a long period of time. Rising up your handlebars is one possible way to better adjust your bike to prevent this problem.

    If you are experiencing pain or simply not comfortable while bike riding make an appointment to come in for a bike fit. If you are in pain your insurance may cover some of the visit. Find out more about how to get a bike fit at IMPACT here.

    Photo Courtesy of David Rickard
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Impact Physical Medicine And Aquatic Center

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