Cycling has been considered as one of the best ways to enhance the overall health of a person. It an intense cardio workout wherein the whole body is involved. In fact, for some of us, cycling is a mode of daily transportation. Everything's good about cycling other than common cycling injuries that can put the cyclist in a lot of pain.
If you have been riding the bike for some time, you are ought to find yourself injured at some point or the other. Most people, in fact, often wonder as to how you can prevent injury while cycling. A few common issues can be avoided and treated easily with proper care. We understand that a few injuries can be very hard to avoid but you can still safeguard yourself in order to minimize the damage.
Keep reading to know the most common cycling injuries along with the tips to avoid them easily.
Common Cycling Injuries
Most of these common cycling injuries are unavoidable but you can surely prevent them or bring down injury possibilities as much as possible. Along with information on cycling injuries, we also have tips on how to prevent them.
Lower Back Pain
One of the most common cycling injuries is the lower back pain. This is because when you are sitting on a bike, a lot of stress is put on the spine. You would be bent over the handlebar and that position is far from being good for the spine. You must be aware of the fact that remaining in the same position for a prolonged period of time would cause pain in the specific joint and muscles. The upset lower back muscles would gradually lead to a change in the posture and that can slowly have an effect on the other areas of the body.
Get more details on lower back pain from cycling.
If not taken care of, this biking injury can develop into serious conditions involving sciatica and nerve entrapment.
Tips to Prevent
- Make core-strengthening regimen a part of your workout routine.
- You could even do the foam roller back exercises.
- Another option would be to get a customized bike fit done. You can do bike customization all by yourself. Your position both on and off the bike is crucial, so make sure that you do not ignore that.
Another common cycling injury is the knee pain. This happens mostly because cyclists fasten their feet onto the pedal with cleats present on the shoe’s bottom. But, if they aren’t positioned in a proper way, you would experience pain in the knees. The first thing to do here is to position those cleats in a proper way. By doing so, riding would be much more comfortable and additionally, pedal strokes would be powerful. You could even consider getting cycling soles. Pain experienced in front of the knee (posterior knee pain) occurs because of a saddle positioned way too low and would put stress on the patella. Pain experienced behind the knee (anterior knee pain) occurs when the saddle is positioned too high and can stretch the attachments of the hamstrings.
Tips to Prevent
- To treat cycling injuries related to the knee, taking rest, massages, using ice-pack or anti-inflammatory medicine.
- Foam rolling exercises might also be beneficial.
The saddle sore is a common cycling injury of the hip that happens when a cyclist spends a lot of time on the saddle. No matter how many jokes you make about the discomfort that cycling causes to the buttocks, it can become quite severe. It might exceed to an extent that you might not even be able to ride.
Tips to Prevent
The friction between the skin and the saddle can cause extremely painful rashes.
- Always wear the right kind of cycling shorts.
- Make sure that the saddle isn’t too high.
- If you get a saddle sore, keep the area absolutely clean and dry. Wash it at regular intervals with un-perfumed soap.
- If you feel that sitting on the saddle isn’t comfortable and is hurting you, taking a few days off would be a good idea.
Hand and Foot Numbness
If you cannot feel your foot or hand, you might get worried. In fact, according to the cycling injuries statistics, hand and feet numbness is very among cyclists. Numb hands are a result of gripping the handlebar in the same position for a prolonged period of time. This way, there is also a very high risk of compressing the ulnar nerve.
Numbness in feet happens because of improper fit of the shoes. The pressure around the ball of the foot would be increased if the cleats are positioned too far away. Riding uphill a lot can also be a major cause as it involves pushing up a lot and that puts a lot of stress on the foot. You need to make sure that your shoes aren’t too tight or too loose. Neither they should be squeezing your feet nor should they be way too narrow.
Tips to Prevent
- For hand numbness, keep moving your hands around the handlebar every few minutes.
- For foot numbness, invest in a good pair of cycling shoes would prove to be beneficial.
Achilles Tendonitis is an overuse injury usually caused due to inflammation. Most people often confuse it with rupture of the Achilles Tendonitis but that is a more painful injury. Other than inflammation, improper shoe cleats position and a poor fit of the bike might be the apparent causes of this kind of injury. If you feel severe pain, it would be best to rest for a few days. To cure the swelling, you could try applying ice-pack on it.
This cycling injury can be counted among one of the most common bike injuries and therefore you need to take appropriate steps to cure it.
Tips to Prevent
- The bike size must be right for you.
- Ensure that the shoe cleats have been positioned appropriately.
- The saddle shouldn't be too high or otherwise, your toes would point downwards. Because of it, there would be a continuous contraction of the calf muscles.
Check out these top 10 strength training exercises for cyclists.
Neck pain is also a common cycling injury wherein you would usually experience pain that begins from the base of the skull and runs along the sides of the neck up towards the shoulders. Tightness is usually experienced because the muscles of the neck get exhausted by carrying the weight of the head that remains in the same position while riding.
The other major causes are tensing the muscles of the shoulders while riding and the fit of the bike. If the bike isn’t appropriately sized according to your body, it is quite natural for you to experience pain.
Tips to Prevent
- To avoid neck pain, shorten the stem of the bike so that you remain in a more upright position.
- Avoid gripping your handlebars too firmly and that would help you in relaxing your shoulder muscles.
- Include neck and shoulder exercises like rows and chin tucks, shoulder-shrugs etc in your regimen.
Other than foot numbness, the hot foot is also a common cycling injury. But, what exactly is hot foot? It is numbness, a burning sensation or pain on the underside of the foot. It usually happens because of the excessive pressure on the nerves which travel from the ball of the foot towards the toe. To avoid it, you would need to redistribute or soften the pressure. If you experience something like this during summer, your feet would most likely be swollen up. The best solution would be to look for shoes that provide room for breathing.
However, if you experience hot foot during the winter, your socks might be too thick. Thick socks do not provide enough space for the blood supply required for the feet.
Tips to Prevent
- Look for socks that aren’t too thick and are still warm.
- Avoid wearing too tight shoes.
Just like every other part of your body, the quads become too tired when being used repeatedly. This is why they require time to recover. If not, muscle fatigue might occur which can be very painful. As a result of very long rides, lactic acid builds up there and then they begin to hurt. This is also one of the most common bicycle accident injuries but can be prevented with appropriate care.
Tips to Prevent
- A kinesiology tape can be used which you can put on before getting on the bike.
- Keep on switching the pedal in and out from the saddle so as to allow a few muscles to relax while the other muscles are employed.
- Massaging the area would be the most beneficial solution.
Additional Tips to Avoid Cycling Injuries
Cycling injuries do not restrict to physical exhaustion and painful conditions. Road accidents and crashes also form an unfortunate part of cycling hazards. Impact injuries can lead to severe bone damage and muscle strains. From grazing your skin to breaking of collarbones, cycling accidents can keep you bed-ridden for a good period of time, in worst cases, they might finish your cycling career altogether. Hence, to prevent such grave losses, riding within your limits and abiding by the safe lines can help.
Wear A Helmet
This is the most obvious way to prevent some serious injuries. Considering that it’s the easiest solution, still, a lot of people choose to ride without wearing a helmet. Invest in a good quality helmet and it would save you from any serious head injury.
A Good Quality Saddle
If you feel that the saddle that came with your bike isn’t too comfortable, replacing it would be the best solution. There are various saddles that have a wider back so that you can comfortable ride. Talk to someone in the bike shop and explain them the issue. They would be able to suggest you the best seat.
Stretching can help you in preventing a lot of cramping and common cycling injuries. While riding, if you feel tightness in a certain area, take a break and massage the area to give it some relief.
A Right-sized Bike
If the bike isn’t sized according to your body, there are high chances that you would face certain injuries. If you aren’t too sure of the size of the bike frame, take suggestions before you make a purchase. The right sized bike is one where when you are seated on it, your legs fully extended. You should be able to reach the handlebars easily without straining yourself. Your elbows should remain slightly bent.
Cycling can sure be a great stress buster and by following all of the above-mentioned tips, you would be able to keep any kind of injuries at bay. Make sure that you are stretching regularly, keeping yourself hydrated and have a bike of the right size. If you follow all of that, you would succeed in avoiding the common cycling injuries. Also, if the pain is way too much to bear and you have done everything to cure it yourself, consulting a doctor would be the best solution.
We hope that this guide will prove to be helpful. If you have any additional tips, please feel free to share them with us in the comment section below.
Have a safe and injury-free ride!