Injuries are part of cycling. Whether you are a newbie or a pro, you can suffer from several cycling injuries, which can range from mildly uncomfortable to excruciatingly painful. Most of these are quick to fix, while others may require more serious interventions, such as surgery and physical rehabilitation.
Below, we’ll talk about some of the most common biking injuries and what you can do to prevent or treat these problems. Whether you are on a stroll using your road bike or you are showing off insane tricks in a BMX bike, these injuries may happen to anyone at any time.
What are the Most Common Cycling Injuries?
The most common cycling injuries include lower back, knee, neck, and wrist pain. You can also suffer from a head injury and collarbone fracture, especially if you are involved in a serious bike crash or collision.
Below, we’ll have a more detailed look at some of the cycling injuries that can happen, as well as the best things to do for treatment and prevention.
1. Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common injuries among cyclists. While it is a low-impact sport that is recommended for people who suffer from low back pain, when not done properly, it could be the reason for the pain. The unnatural and forward position when riding is the most common culprit for this bike injury.
The quickest fix for this is to correct your position. For instance, when the saddle is too high, your hips will be moving side to side, and this can result in lower back pain. Meanwhile, when the MTB handlebars are too far, you will need to stretch your position, and this can cause an unnecessary strain on your back.
2. Knee Pain
Knee pain biking injury is the result of over-use. If you ride harder and longer than what your body is used to, the connective tissues will suffer, including those in your knees. To add, your knees connect your upper and lower legs. When your legs are not properly moving, your knees can also end up being painful.
Modifications in the cleat position and saddle height are some of the best corrective measures that can help correct knee pain. Cycling stretches can also help in easing the tension. Proper pacing is another simple solution that will work as it prevents too much strain on your knees.
3. Neck Pain
Cycling neck pain is a result of the need to flex your back for a long time. It requires quite an effort on your neck to maintain the right position, causing pain in the long run. If your neck becomes painful during your ride, this is a sign that your position is creating stress on the neck.
Like most of the injuries common amongst cyclists, an effective solution would be correcting the fit of the bike, making sure that you won’t have to stretch or strain your neck too much. Assuming the right position also helps. It will also be great to incorporate a couple of neck exercises into your workout routines, such as flexion, rotation, and side bend. If you have a sore neck, try alternating hot and cold compress to address the inflammation.
4. Saddle Sore
A saddle sore is a biking injury caused by friction. It results in a raised area on the skin, specifically on the part that is regularly in contact with the saddle. When they are small, they look like spots, but when they grow larger, they will look like boils. It can be uncomfortable and painful.
Since they are often caused by chafing or abrasion, one of the most important is to wear the right bike shorts. It will be good to wear one with chamois, which will offer enhanced protection and reduced irritation. Applying a chamois cream will help treat the rash. Regularly washing your shorts will also help address the problem.
5. Achilles Tendonitis
This biking injury is a result of over-use of the Achilles tendon, which is a group of tissues connecting your heel bone to your calf muscles. It can suffer from inflammation as a result of having a poor bike fit and wrong position of shoe cleats.
Choosing the right bike shoes is one of the easiest ways to prevent this problem. It should provide adequate cushioning and support. If you have been training too hard, back off a bit. Do not immediately increase the intensity of your cycling routine. If it is painful, the best solution is to take medicines with anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Feet Numbness
Numb feet happen not only in cold environments but even in warm temperatures. It is caused by nerve pressure, especially during long rides. As you pedal, blood flow will increase, which will also cause your feet to expand. However, since you are wearing shoes, there will be pressure, and this is what will cause numbness.
The easiest way to prevent feet numbness is to wear the right shoes. Make sure that it fits perfectly with enough wiggle room. Adding arch support will also help. In case your bike has clip pedals, adjusting the cleat position may also work.
7. Muscle Fatigue
This is more of a general category that refers to the overuse of the muscles you commonly use when you are cycling. Lactic acid build-up can also be the culprit. It will result in a decrease in muscle strength and will inevitably negatively impact your biking performance.
Before you get on the bike, perform a couple of stretches. You should also have a consistent MTB training plan to work on the essential muscles, making them stronger and not easily prone to fatigue. You should not also push yourself to the limit to avoid muscle fatigue.
8. Wrist Pain
Wrist pain is not normal when you are biking. When you experience this, it is a sign that you are exerting undue stress on your wrist. It compresses the ulnar or median nerves. Your wrists will be painful and numb, making it quite challenging to steer the bike in the right direction.
One of the best things that you can do is to wear padded cycling gloves. It will protect against pressure and vibration, resulting in reduced pressure in the nerves. Keeping your wrists straight instead of flexed when holding the handlebars is also a great preventive measure. Bending your elbows will help since it will act as a spring that can absorb vibration during your ride.
9. Head Injury
This is the most serious biking injury on our list. It is a result of a collision. You might be hit by a car when you are on the road. You can also fall on a rock or a solid ground with pressure enough to injure your head.
The most obvious solution is to use a bike helmet to prevent your head from serious injuries. You should ride on the right side of the road with traffic and not against it. Learn traffic rules. Keep your eye on the road and stay focused when you are cycling. Equip your bike with reflective materials and other accessories that will make it easy to be noticed.
10. Clavicle Fracture
Clavicle fracture refers to a broken collarbone. It represents about 5% of the fractures often experienced by adults. When you fall on your bike, the most common instinct is to extend your arm and hope for it to serve as a cushion or spring. It creates an extreme force that travels to the collarbone and causes the fracture.
A broken collarbone may require surgical treatment. When the bone has shifted too much, a small plate might be inserted over the fracture. In some cases, all you need is to wear a sling, which will prevent movements as the collarbone heals.
Q: Can you pull a muscle riding a bike?
Yes, you can pull a muscle when riding a bike, and this can be the cause of an injury. You will overcompensate. When you subject your muscles to unnecessary strain, they might end up being damaged.
Q: What to do when you fall off your bike?
When you fall off a bike, the first thing you should do is to not risk making too much movements. It would be best to ask for help. If you can move most of your body, then you will be fine. Lift the bike and check for damages before you go on with the ride.
Q: What are the main causes of bicycle injuries?
The main causes of bicycle injuries include being hit by a car, falling off the bike, road problems, collisions with a fixed object, and ride error. Improper biking position and overuse of muscles can also cause injuries.
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From something as common as knee pain to a condition as serious as head injury, cycling is a risky sport. Being familiar with the many cycling injuries will arm you with the right knowledge, making them easier to avoid. These injuries can cause permanent damages, and can even be deadly, so you need to be proactive when it comes to prevention and treatment.