Cycling Injuries

Get Rid of Cycling Injuries Once and For All

Cycling injuries are now more and more common as cycling has become one of Britain’s’ fastest growing sports over the past decade.

I recently took part in a “festival of cycling” event called the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100. This was a mass participation amateur cycling sportive, which started at the Olympic Park in Stratford and went out through leafy Surrey, passing a few hundred metres from our Wimbledon clinic, returning to finish outside Buckingham Palace on The Mall in central London.

I was lucky enough to get a place in the ballot for this the event this year, so found myself doing some training in preparation for the big day. Naturally this led me to thinking about the types of common cycling injuries that cyclists may be likely to encounter.

Cycling Injuries – Soft Tissue Injury

Muscle fatigue and cramp are obvious contenders as main cycling injuries. All of us are prone to these types of soft tissue injury, which are especially likely if we are not well hydrated, or are lacking in minerals and salts. Stretching major muscle groups, so that they are flexible and well warmed up may also minimize the chances of developing cramp. If you are unlucky enough to be plagued by cramp attack- then all you can do short term is stretch the offending muscle and try to avoid working it too hard until you have rehydrated and perhaps had an electrolyte – rich drink or gel to replenish lost salts.

Cycling injuries related to muscles in your calf, back of your thigh (hamstrings) and front of your thigh (quadriceps) are the most frequently affected muscle groups. There are a number of easy exercises you can perform to lengthen these. Ask your local osteopath or physical therapist for advice.

Adequate preparation and pre-event training will help eliminate cycling injuries and allow muscles to get used to the demands that they will have to encounter for this type of endurance event. You should always begin your training for a comfortable duration and increase only by 10% each week. It is important therefore to give yourself time before an event to follow this pattern right up to race day.

Most Common Cycling Injuries

Cycling injuries may also include upper back pain. This is very common, especially on long rides (three hours or more), and may be felt in the upper back due to peoples weight being taken through their arms as they lean forwards towards the handlebars, but then need to look up to see where they are going. This neck extension may cause facet joint pain, muscular tension and fatigue. Mechanical neck pain of this nature often results in headaches, another potential cycling injury related symptom.

Using a local osteopath or physical therapist on a regular basis will improve mobility and maintain muscle tone to keep you in tip-top condition. The phrase “prevention is better than cure” is certainly true if you want to eliminate cycling injuries and you are planning to cycle frequently or participate in any exercise on a regular basis. We all try to emulate our sporting heroes, and all the professionals’ have a whole team supporting them and looking after their physical aches and pains, so why don’t we look after ourselves in the same way?

Cycling Injuries Borne Through Our Arms

Cycling injuries are not necessarily all long term problems. Cycling pain may be felt in the hands, as we are not used to having some of our body weight being borne through our arms. Commonly nerve pain from one of the wrist nerves (median nerve) is compressed where the centre of your hands make contact with the handlebars and cause a tingling sensation into the hand and fingers. This is worse on poor road surfaces, where bumps create vibration that exacerbates this nerve compression and mimics carpal tunnel syndrome. The nerve on the inside of the wrist (ulnar nerve) may also be compressed from the same reason, if the rider tends to use the “hoods” at the top of dropped-style handlebars.

Especially in wet conditions on hilly roads when going down hill means you need to brake, frequent squeezing of the brake levers for extended periods can cause muscle strain to the forearm flexor muscles. If this happens, stretch the fingers and wrists into extension and give your hands a good shake to get the blood flowing freely again.

Advice on posture for your position on a bike giving you optimum efficiency will minimize the pressure on all of the regions mentioned above and help prevent cycling injuries. Your local cycling shop will be a good place to start, but if you do experience any symptoms when exercising (or afterwards), you should seek medical advice. For mechanical injuries such as those listed, your local osteopath or physical therapist is a sensible person to ask for help.

Cycling Injuries Treatment

They will diagnose the fault based on your case history and a physical examination, then suggest an appropriate treatment plan which may involve some manipulation treatment, electrotherapy (such as ultra-sound), stretching and massage, as well as suggesting some home exercises for you to perform.

For more information on common cycling injuries or other musculoskeletal conditions, please contact us or visit our website for more information.

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About The Author

Kieran Chhabra

Kieran began training as an osteopath over 20 years ago and qualified through the world famous British School of Osteopathy in London where he is now also a senior lecturer.