Injuries Caused When Cycling

With the exception of accidents, most injuries caused when cycling are caused by an ill-fitting bike or by incorrect cycling techniques.

A bike that is not fit to the cyclist can cause pain in various areas of the body, including the neck, back and knee as well as numbness in the hands or feet. The pain experienced can be distracting and might cause you to be discouraged to continue biking.

Today we will discuss the most frequently encountered causes of pain when cycling and how to avoid them. For the most part, if rest or adjustments to the fitting of your bike don’t help, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.

Pain in your knees

The first thing that you need to check if you experience knee pain is your bike’s position or height. High seats can cause pain felt at the back of the knee. On the other hand, low seats or seats that are too forward can cause pain felt in front of the knee. Now assuming that you have already adjusted your seat and you still feel pain in the knee area, the next thing you might want to check is your foot position.

If you are using pedals without clips, go to a local bike shop to have your bike and shoes checked by a professional for the correct angle. One cause of pain due to incorrect foot position is when the ITB or the iliotibial band becomes sore or tight because of wrong positioning. This can eventually cause pain outside the hip or knee.

Stretching exercises can reduce tightness of this muscle. To do a correct ITB stretch, put your right foot over your left foot and reach to the inside of your left foot as close to the floor as possible. Keep your knees slightly bent and then repeat with the other foot. The stretch should be felt in the hip.

Using a gear that is too high (ie. Using a large ring in front and a small cog at the back) will require more work from your legs, which eventually causes stress and pain to the knee. If the range of your cadence (defined as the number of times one of the legs completes a pedal stroke per minute) is less than 80 to 100 rotations per minute, then you may need to change gears in order to achieve quicker and lighter spinning, without the need to push down too hard with every pedal stroke. Poor pedaling techniques can also cause knee pain. Pulling your knee toward your bike or letting it fall from the bike while pedaling can cause pain in the knee. The best thing to do is to keep the knee in a circle that runs aligned

Pedaling in cold weather can also cause knee pain. If the weather is too cold, your muscles may not be warmed up fully and may just remain tight the entire ride. This can cause pain in the knee because the quadriceps muscles may be too tight. To prevent this, make sure to wear the correct cycling gear for cold weather conditions.

Other injuries may be experienced, like ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome) which is covered in the running section. Being familiar with the possible injuries for every sport can help you accurately identify pain that is carried over to another sport. Joint pains or muscle pains when riding is usually caused by your body form and bike fit, so don’t ignore these two things when riding.

Pain in the neck and shoulder

Aside from knee pain, cyclists may also experience neck pain, which leaves a feeling of being drained even if the rest of your body is still capable of doing more.

To relieve the pressure, lower and relax your shoulders when riding. Some cyclists just need to get used to the position on the bike and the pain soon goes away once they’re used to it. In some instances, it’s because you are in the wrong position and in others, your seat or handlebars may just need adjustment.

If you’re used to leaning forward and putting the weight on your hands, you might have the tendency to lock your elbows which in turn causes you to raise and turn and tense your shoulders to bear the weight. As always, the best thing to do is to have your bike adjusted correctly at your local bike shop.

After the adjustment, you might end up in a more upright position. While this position is less aerodynamic, this would minimize the pain caused by leaning forward and makes your ride more comfortable.

Numbness

Even if you wear padded cycling gloves, a certain amount of tingling or numbness or tingling in your hands, particularly in your fingers, may be experienced because of the weight brought from your upper body to your hands.

To relieve the pressure, change the position of your hands as often as possible. Shaking your hands out once in a while can also help in blood circulation. Relaxing your elbows and shoulders and shifting your upper-body weight to your arms can also relieve the pressure.

Also, you can utilize your lower back to help with the weight by not leaning too much on your hands on the handlebars.

Your seat in relation to your handlebars can affect the amount of weight supported on your hands. Your handlebar and seat position can affect in the relaxation of your arms and elbows, such as if the handlebars are too far forward or if the seat is positioned too far to the back or is angled downwards. Your local bike shop is your best bet when it comes to minor adjustments in the position of your handlebar or seat for a more comfortable ride.

What are saddle sores?

Saddle sores are commonly experiences by cyclists and are skin irritations that may cause infections that are painful if uncontrolled. They may sound like something really bad, but you can avoid them if you follow some standard guidelines in preventing them.

How to Prevent Saddle Sores

1  The first thing to check is your bike fit. A saddle that you feel comfortable with should be your priority. Some triathletes like skinny saddles with minimal padding, however this may not be something you would be comfortable with. Others like large saddles with gel-cushions. You can find a wide variety of seats manufactured and all you need to do is check which saddle will work best for you. There are also saddles specifically manufactured for women.

Once you have found a comfortable saddle, make sure it is positioned correctly. A high seat or a seat that is angled incorrectly can cause you to slide back and forth, causing unnecessary friction. Your local bike shop should be able to adjust your seat for you for the right level, height and position.

2  Frequent standing can help minimize saddle sores. Stand up when you can without having to wait for the next hill to stretch your legs and relieve the pressure. You can also help in blood circulation by standing up.

3  Adjust your position on the saddle as your ride, such as when you spin up and down hills. Once in a while, slide back on your saddle to shift the pressure points. Procure the best cycling shorts that you can buy, preferably the type that is seamless and with comfortable chamois. Wearing additional underwear adds to the seams which may cause discomfort. You might find this weird, but cycling shorts are supposed to be worn without underwear.

4  If you experience any irritation or chafing, you can use body lubricants that you are comfortable with. Apply it generously to irritated areas and to areas where your body makes contact with your saddle. You might feel a little awkward when you first apply it, but you don’t have to worry because it’s easy to get used to.

5  Personal hygiene is something we should all be practicing, even in sports. Wear clean and dry cycling gear every time you ride. If you happen to only have one pair of cycling shorts and you will be using them daily, you also have to wash it daily and be sure to turn it inside out for faster drying.

Good luck!

Terry

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