Common Cycling Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Competitive cyclist racing uphillHow we sit on our bikes, how we move on them and how our bikes are set up will have a big impact on how much fun we can have when getting out and riding.

Cycling is one of those interesting sports where you are ‘locked in’ to the bike (by the hands, feet and bums). With so many points of contact, little things, such as seat height, how far we have to reach to the handlebars, riding posture and individual physical strengths and weaknesses, can affect the enjoyment and can potentially relate to injury.

Common cycling related injuries.

A lot of cycling injuries are what we call ‘overuse’ or ‘overload’ injuries. Acute injuries are common, like falling off the bike (of which I am no stranger), but here we are going to focus on the grumbly and niggling type of injuries that get ignored—often for so long that they require time off the bike to recover.

Whether you ride on the road, paths or dirt, cycling is repetitive activity. Your legs move in repetitive motions and knees and hips flex and extend to get you where you want to go and hopefully back again.

Knee Pain

Pain at the front of the knee around your kneecap is a very common occurrence. This tends to occur gradually and is worse at the end of a ride. There are many factors that can influence knee pain. For example, knee control—do you have ‘wobbly knees’ when you ride? This looks like excessive sideways wobbling or inward twisting of the knee through the pedal stroke. Ideally, your hip, knee and ankle are all in alignment through the pedal stroke.

Checking out your muscle strengths and weaknesses with your physio and checking your pedaling technique can be very helpful in identifying the factors causing the problem.

Other areas you can look at with your physio are measuring and adjusting seat height, positioning of the seat, and even the positioning of the foot on the pedal.

Low Back Pain

Long duration of rides, fatigue, and poor positioning or posture can lead to pain in your low back. This can occur as you start to get tired and your beautiful riding posture can change to look more like a slump.

Soon, we can find ourselves bending our backs more and rotating through the spine with every pedal stroke. You might get away with riding like this for a while but overall it is a good recipe for aggravating pre existing lower back injuries.

Core strengthening exercises are a good strategy to help strengthen the body from the inside out and improve your trunk stability when riding.

Neck Pain

Stiffness in the neck and mid back can occur after long rides, riding in aerodynamic positions, riding with your hands ‘in the drops’, poor shoulder and arm posture or a bike set up that isn’t right for you.

Stretches for the neck and mid-back can help reduce some of this stiffness. Your physio can help tailor a stretching program to suit you.

Discovering your strengths and weakness as well as adjusting your bike set up to suit your body (rather than the other way around) is a good place to start for injury rehabilitation and prevention.

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About the Author

Ashley has completed Level 1 course for the treatment and management of lymphoedema through Lymphoedema Training and Education in 2014 and has completed Level 2 Lymphoedema training including the treatment of complex lymphoedema patients through Lymphoedema Education Solutions in 2016. Ashley is also a member of the Australasian Lymphology Association and on the National Lymphoedema Practitioner Register.

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