How Can You Prevent Injury While Cycling

More and more people are starting to get into cycling- and it’s easy to see why. Whether the reason behind it is for cheaper transportation, to better the environment, or to start a healthier lifestyle, there are many benefits that come from cycling on a regular basis. It’s an activity we all become familiar with when we are children (ah, learning to ride a bike) and a skill we carry for most of our lives. If you cycle regularly or are looking to make it a regular activity, you should become aware of certain injuries associated with cycling and how to best avoid them. We put together a list of the most common injuries experienced by cyclists and listed prevention tips so you can feel more confident in your ability to protect your body while riding.

Lower back pain

If you experience lower back pain after riding, you may be riding with improper form. Cycling develops a lot of strength in the leg muscles but it is a challenge for many cyclists to maintain proper form in the neck and torso. The best way to remedy back pain is to incorporate proper posture (back straight) while riding and standing.

Tendonitis

It is common for cyclists to experience tendonitis. More specific to the cyclist, Achilles tendonitis and patellar tendonitis. Typically, Achilles tendonitis is caused by overuse, however, it can also be caused by an improper fit to your bike or shoe cleats that are positioned improperly (this adds stress to the feet and lower legs). Achilles tendonitis is caused by inflammation. Use ice after cycling to lessen the inflammation. Ibuprofen also assists in lessening inflammation but is only successful after being in the system for a couple days. If you feel like you aren’t overworking your muscles, try lowering your bike seat and pushing your cleats forward and see if that helps alleviate the pain. You want your foot to have enough room to be both plantar flexed and dorsi flexed (full range of motion). Patellar tendonitis (the patellar tendon is right below the kneecap) is commonly caused by pressure put on the knee from riding in higher gears for long periods of time. It could also be caused by a seat that is too low. You can simply raise your seat to remedy this issue or increase variation in your peddling cadence.

Burning feet

A burning or numbing sensation in the toes is caused by nerves being squished in the feet while riding. You may experience this if your shoes are too tight or you climb too much in your riding. It can also be caused by constant vibration from the roads you’re cycling on. Try adjusting your shoes, straps, and cleats. Sometimes you could just have a strap that’s putting to much pressure on your foot (cutting off circulation). The adjustment may eliminate the sensation altogether. Assess your riding session and figure out at what part of your routine you experience the numbness. If it happens during a climb, consider giving yourself more time for rest and recovery.

Numbness in the hands or fingers

If you are gripping the handlebars too tightly, you may experience numbness in the hands and fingers. Your grip should be firm (enough to maintain control) but relaxed enough to still allow for blood circulation. Change positions frequently, keep your wrists straight, and consider using gloves to lessen the vibrations from the road.

Neck and shoulder pain

Both the neck and shoulders can become fatigued during long rides from working hard to hold up the head. The pain is most often felt in the upper parts of the trapezius muscle which runs from the base of the skull, along the sides of the neck, to the shoulders. Placing too much weight on your hands can also add stress to the shoulders leading to the upper back and neck trying to overcompensate and becoming fatigued. If you notice your neck and shoulders hurting frequently, try relaxing your grip on the handlebars. Also, become aware of how tight your shoulders are during your ride. You may simply need to make a more conscious effort to keep them relaxed. If you make these adjustments and don’t see any improvement, you may want to take your bike to an expert and make sure it is fitted properly.

Conclusion

Cycling is a wonderful activity for the mind, body, and environment. Take the right precautions in order to protect your body from injury and enjoy your ride! If you’ve been searching for how can you prevent injury while cycling, hopefully, now things are a little clearer and you can ride a little happier knowing how to keep injuries at bay.

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