Prevention of Common Cycling Injuries

Like any activity, repetitive motion can lead to injury.  Cycling,  while fun, is a single plane motion that can

cause repetitive strain of muscles and tendons as well as joints.

The most important factor in maintaining health while working out or doing activity is to have a good balance between the muscles that are in the front, back and sides of the body.  Overpowering of one group throws our body out of “alignment” and causes tissue breakdown.

Over training itself is problematic because, with increase training, comes increased risk of tissue breakdown.  The average athlete now trains harder today than 20 years ago and the statistics show that the rate of tissue strain is up from then too on the competitive circuit.

So what are the most common form of cycling injuries?

1.  Patellofemoral Knee Pain

  • pain around and under the knee cap and is commonly due to tight quads and Tensor fascia latae
  • caused by an imbalance in the soft-tissue stabilizers of the knee cap.
  • knee cap slides and aggravates the undersurface of the knee cap.

Treatment

  • Foam rolling and stretching tight muscles
  • Strengthening of weaker muscles

2.  Upper Back/Low Back/Shoulder Pain

  • Due to the forward leaning posture associated with cycling
  • we need to remember that our day is spend bent forward and when we cycle, we are also bent

 Treatment

  • Retraction and extension neck exercises
  • bending backwards for low back
  • Strengthening of the upper back and shoulders
  • taking breaks in a ride to stretch out the neck and upper back

3.  Ulnar Nerve Paresthesias

  • “pins and needles” feeling in the hands with prolonged cycling
  • pressure on the nerve at the wrist by the handlebars

 Treatment

  • Start by padding
  • Reduce training/pressure
  • Ultrasound, laser and nerve gliding exercises

Remember:

  • First thing to look at is bike-fit, the condition can often be caused by seat or pedal position/orientation – CONTACT YOUR LOCAL BIKE SHOP
  • Then look at the movement in the entire circumference of the pedal stroke, when you think about it, it is a skilled event and all the muscles need to be working well.
  • Genetics can be your friend.  Genetically, the most elite cyclists have significantly less backward bend of the back and more forward bend.  This leads to a natural advantage.  However, those that are training hard without a genetic advantage, create a muscle imbalance between the hamstrings and hip flexors, combined with weak hip extensors, which lead to uncontrolled lower back movements. Cyclists with this problem were predisposed to overuse injuries
  • A physiotherapist familiar with Cycling will be able to identify if you have any lack of motion, strength deficits and help you address these possible sources of injury.
  • Avid cyclists should have their biomechanics checked periodically by a physiotherapist.