Cycling is a great, low-impact way to build strength, endurance, and overall cardiovascular health. It’s imperative, though, especially if you are an amateur cyclist, that you educate yourself on proper cycling techniques and things to look out for while working out to prevent injuries from occurring. Oftentimes, cyclists complain about their knees and backs hurting and think that there is no way to prevent these injuries from occurring.
If you fit into that category, here are some common injuries that cyclists deal with and how you can prevent this from occurring:
Evaluate your training program to ensure you are not “overdoing” it. Oftentimes, individuals will cycle too many miles which irritates the connective tissues in their knees leading to pain and inflammation.
Another source of knee pain can stem from improper bike fit and/or position. Not all bikes are made the same, and there are specific bike frames to fit people of all different heights. Many employees at bike shops are experienced in fitting bikes to cyclists and can help ensure your bike fits your body and the handles, seat, and pedals are at the right heights to fit your specific riding style.
Stretch the muscles around your IT bands, specifically the TFL and glutes. While there has been much debate about whether to stretch your IT bands or not, it will definitely be helpful to stretch out all of the muscles surrounding your IT band to keep them functioning properly so as to not put too much stress on the IT band while cycling.
Ensure the bike fits your body properly, so you are not straining your lower back while riding; many times if cyclists are suffering from back pain, their bikes are too big.
Work on strengthening your core. Many times, athletes will only focus on cycling and neglect cross-training. Having a strong core is essential for maintaining proper posture while cycling and for relieving stress from your back while pedaling.
Analyze your riding style to see if you’re putting undue stress on your body, especially while climbing. The angle of your back while cycling can help to reduce the stress on your body. If you’re suffering from back pain while cycling, consider switching up the angle of your back over the duration of your ride, especially if you’re doing a longer ride or lots of climbing.
Use a cream to help treat and prevent saddle sores. Most every cyclist has suffered from saddle sores, which occur due to friction between the bike seat and the skin. These rashes can be extremely uncomfortable and can make cycling miserable.
Invest in a pair of padded bike shorts to provide an extra layer of padding and cushion between the bike seat and your skin. Bike shorts are a great way to help prevent saddle sores and are sold at most cycling shops.
Check that your shoes fit and are positioned properly on the bike. Make sure to prevent your shoes from being too large, so that your feet are sliding around in your cycling shoes. If pain persists, consider getting inserts to provide more support in your shoes
Don’t neglect strengthening and stretching your Achilles tendon regularly to help prevent tendonitis and keep the Achilles functioning optimally.
While some injuries cannot be avoided while cycling, there are many nagging injuries that can be prevented through educating yourself on proper training techniques and ways to prevent the most common injuries.