Posted on 27th October 2017 at 15:57
Cycling pain can be a problem and it is repetitive cycling injuries that cause unnecessary pain to cyclists. Some of the problems can be caused by overuse or issues with posture an answer to this is to rectify an improper riding position.
Over long rides, lactic acid builds up in the muscle, causing pain. Most cyclists rely on their thigh muscles, the quads, to power the bike forwards and as a result this is where cyclists will feel a lot of fatigue. One way to keep the quads in shape is to use kinesiology tape which can promote muscle endurance and aid recovery. Another possible solution is to alternate between pedaling in and out of the saddle. This will spread the load among other muscles and avoid overloading the quads.
Tight calves and hamstrings can sometimes be a problem and can lead to muscular tearing. Warm up regimes before exercise and cool down afterwards will help.
Point of contact injuries
These injuries are often the most common complaints among cyclists. This is about the parts of a cyclist that touches their bike: the hands, the bottom, and the feet.
Cleats fasten cyclists feet to the pedals, the problem with this can be that if the cleats are not correctly positioned at the right angle, it can result with shooting pains in the knees and issues with the achilles tendons.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury caused by inflammation or could be a result of a poor bike fit. If the saddle is too high this keeps the foot pointed down, causing constant tightening of the calf muscles. Lowering the seat and making sure that the cleats are correctly positioned will help to even out what muscles are being used. Allowing the foot to point up during the bottom portion of the pedal stroke can ease the tension on the achilles, allowing the tendon to have needed periods of rest.
This tendon attaches the quads muscle to the shin bone. Inflammation of this tendon can be caused by having the seat too low or using big gears for too long a distance. As a result, the buttock muscles (gluts) are not being used as well as they should be and the quads become overworked and fatigued, leading to tendonitis in the tendon. Kinesiology taping can also assist.
With regards to the bottom, saddle sore is the main thing to watch out for. This is caused by friction between skin, clothing and the saddle, and can result in sore buttocks and/or skin rashes. Decent padded shorts can make a difference as well as not wearing underwear under the cycling shorts.
Back and neck pain
Cycling can highlight any underlying problems that some cyclists may have, especially with some bikes that see them pitched forwards in the saddle. Riding with the back muscles in neutral would be the ideal posture, but this is often not possible when the bike is not set up to your exact size. The best answer is to get a professional bike fit done, once that perfect riding position has been found, those aches and pains in your back disappear pretty quickly.
Kinesiology tape on the lower back area is another option to use. It will help stimulate the skin in the area, promoting muscle function and decreasing pain.
Ulnar neuropathy, known to cyclists as handlebar palsy, is caused by compression of the ulnar nerve at the hand and wrist. The ulnar nerve controls sensation in the ring and little finger and controls most of the muscular function of the hand.
Holding the handlebar in the same position for a long period of time, gripping it too tightly, or leaning too far over the front wheel, can cause compression of the ulnar nerve. Often, the nerve may be stretched when a drop-down handlebar is held in the lower position. The pressure placed on the ulnar nerve can result in numbness and tingling or hand weakness, or a combination of both. Symptoms can take from several days to months to resolve. Rest, stretching exercises, and anti-inflammatory medications usually help relieve the symptoms. Applying less pressure or weight to the handlebars and avoiding bending the wrist back too far can help to prevent a recurrence.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Although it is less common than handlebar palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome (compression of the median nerve at the wrist) is another overuse injury that cyclists often experience. Injury often occurs when a cyclist holds the handlebars on top and applies pressure directly on the nerve. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers and weakness of the hand. Symptoms usually resolve quickly once you stop cycling for a short period of time. Although handlebar pressure contributes to these symptoms, there can be other causes for hand pain and numbness; therefore, an assessment for other possible causes of carpal tunnel syndrome should be performed by your GP or Physiotherapist.
The simplest way to prevent problems with these nerves is to make sure that the hands are moved around the handlebar and not to get stuck in one position on long rides. Road bikes are specifically designed to allow riders to grip the handlebars in different places - on the sides, above, or down below on the drops - so that the riding position can be altered.
Whether it is from a crash, overtraining or from poor bike fit, injury is part of the cycling sport. Although some injuries are impossible to avoid, there are some things every cyclist can do to prevent injuries. With the proper training, equipment and a correct bike fit these risks can all be minimised or completely prevented. Adjusting the handlebars, the seat, and the pedals to the correct fit is the key to preventing most overuse injuries.
Bodyworks offer a Bike Fit Service, call us now to book your bike fit for a safer and more comfortable ride.
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