How to Prevent Injuries While Cycling

  • A young woman, who is clearly in pain, clutches her knee.
Cycling is good for the mind and the body. You’re working your muscles, getting fresh air, and seeing new sights. It’s all good—until you start feeling a tightness in your Achilles or a pain in your back.

Common Cycling Injuries

Unlike tennis or basketball, you won’t suffer the kind of injuries that happen from jumping or sudden changes in direction. Rather, your injuries are likely to be from sitting in pretty much the exact same position—and working the exact same muscles—for extended periods of time. Here are five of the more common injuries that cyclists face.

Achilles Tendonitis

If your saddle is too high, it can cause you to point your toe, which results in stress on the Achilles. But this injury is more commonly caused by simple overuse. Back off your training a bit, and use ice and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain.

Knee Pain

Knee pain is often the result of an improper bike fit, according to Cycling Weekly. Pain at the front of the knee often comes from a saddle that’s too low, whereas pain behind the knee can be caused by a saddle that’s too high. Pain on the sides of the knee can be caused by an improper cleat set up, which will cause your knee to track incorrectly.

A fair amount of knee pain is also caused by tight muscles. Cycling Weekly strongly suggests both stretching and foam rolling, which releases tension from muscles much like a good sports massage would.

Lower Back Pain

This is more common when riding a rode bike due to the hunched over position. Consider taking a bit of time off the bike, stretching your back out, and increasing your core strength through abdominal workouts, Pilates, or yoga (which will also double as a stretching workout). It can also help to raise your handlebars a bit—at least until your back is feeling better.

Saddle Sores

Caused by friction and sweat, saddle sores happen to every serious rider at some point. Take a day or two off and try a cool Epsom-salt bath. If there are open sores, apply a topical ointment. See a doctor if the sore lasts for more than two weeks or if there are signs of infection. If you’re not wearing padded bike shorts, that’s the first step in preventing saddle sores.

Hand Numbness

This is fairly common and is caused by putting pressure on your hands for a long period of time. Eventually, it can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome. Happily, there’s an easy fix. Ride with your elbows bent slightly back so that they can act as a shock absorber. You can also adjust your hands slightly as you ride so that the pressure alternates between the inside and outside of your palms.

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About Sarah Little

Sarah Little, Marketing Director at StorageMart, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. She serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association, a non-profit group dedicated to improving the lives of children.

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