Cycling is a fun activity that decreases stress levels, improves joint mobility, and enhances cardiovascular fitness. Riding a bike is easy on the joints, which makes it an excellent low-impact exercise for people looking to get in shape.
Despite all the benefits of riding a bike, it’s still a sport where common cycling injuries can occur. As a cyclist, you need to be careful and try to avoid these cycling injuries as much as possible. If you get injured seriously, you may not be able to ride your bike for quite a long while.
Here are the seven most common cycling injuries, along with their long-term health effects:
1. Knee pain injuries
Cyclists are all too familiar with the throbbing sensation of knee pain. Improper foot position on your pedals is a common cause of inflammation in the knee. Without proper placement, your knees can twist out of alignment, which causes pain and inflammation.
Knee pain can also occur from overuse. Stretching before and after your rides is a great way to keep your hamstrings and other ligaments from tightening up and causing knee pain. Use rest and ice if your knees are swollen and feeling painful. Forcing yourself to push through the pain can aggravate your cycling injuries and end up harming your performance in the future.
2. Low back pain injuries
Low back pain is one of the most common cycling injuries that often flare up after a long ride. Pain in your lower back or the lumbar region of your spine is often the result of a muscle strain or sprain.
Low back pain is often correlated with overuse. Taking a few days off will help to rest your back muscles and avoid re-aggravating the injury. Doing back exercises can also be a great way to strengthen the stabilizing muscles in your back, which can help limit pain.
3. Neck pain injuries
Tightness in your back, shoulder, and neck muscles can cause neck pain after long cycling sessions. The longer you ride, the more tired and taught your muscles will get. Adjusting your handlebars to suit the length of your arms is a good way to make your rides more comfortable.
After you’re done riding, look for ways to relax your neck muscles. You can use yoga, heat, and rest to prepare your neck for another riding session. Use back, and shoulder stretches to your advantage to relieve pressure on your neck.
4. Tendonitis injuries
Avid cyclists run the risk of developing problems with their achilles tendon. The achilles tendon connects the heel of your foot to your calf muscles. When these cycling injuries are left unchecked, inflammation in this tendon can cause degenerative changes in the area.
The more inflammation and pain you feel in your achilles, the higher your risk of suffering an achilles tendon rupture becomes. Physical therapy is an excellent way to address tightness in your achilles by strengthening the connected muscles. If you have achilles pain, don’t wait for it to get really bad before seeking help.
5. Foot numbness
Foot numbness is another example of common cycling injuries. The sensation of pins and needles in your foot can occur after you come in from a ride. Foot numbness can also present itself as a sudden loss of sensation in the foot.
Numbness is often caused by certain nerves in your feet getting compressed from poorly fitting equipment. Muscle imbalances and tightness can also lead to numbness. Take a look at your biking shoes and socks and ensure they aren’t too tight on your feet. If you wear pedal cleats, the pressure should be on the ball of your foot to relieve tension across the metatarsals.
6. Hip pain injuries
Hip pain a particularly annoying injury common among cyclists. Long rides can cause your hip flexors to tighten, which reduces your flexibility. Tight hip flexors irritate the bursa that sits between the muscle and bone in your hip.
Hip pain is often felt on the front and outer side of the hip with the pain sometimes traveling down towards the knee. Make sure your seat height is appropriate for your body to prevent your hip flexors from tightening. Stretching is an excellent way to increase your range of motion and prevent tightness in your psoas and hip muscles.
7. Wrist pain injuries
Your wrist and arms can act as shock absorbers during long rides. Holding on to your handlebars can cause carpal tunnel symptoms to start appearing in your hand. You may hear this pain referred to as “cyclist’s palsy”, which is another example of common cycling injuries. Keeping a strong grip on your handlebars and absorbing the shocks from the terrain can irritate the nerves in your wrist and forearms.
These cycling injuries are often aggravated by holding handlebars in a single position for too long. One of the best ways to prevent forearm and wrist pain is to ride with a slight bend in your elbow to relive some of the pressure. It can also help riding an e-bike with comfortable handlebars. Using padded gloves and shifting your body weight to the outside of your handlebars can also help relieve unnecessary pain and pressure during long rides.