It’s not uncommon for cyclists to encounter nagging injuries. The good news is that most of the common cycling injuries are preventable. You’ll soon discover themes among preventing many of the injuries:
- Make sure your bike fits you
- Train wisely
- Increase your strength off the bike
Not only will these things make you a stronger cyclist, they will greatly reduce your risk of injury. Who wants to be sidelined from cycling? (Silence…) 🙂
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Now here we go with some of the more common cycling injuries.
How to prevent foot pain
What may cause you to get foot pain:
- Poor fitting shoes
- Worn down shoes
- Buy bike shoes that are the right fit
- Make sure your shoes are loose enough and aren’t too tight for your feet
- Do the insole test: Take the insole out from your shoe, and put it against the bottom of your foot. No part of your foot should be outside the insole frame. If it is, you might want to size up on your bike shoes or get wide bike shoes
- Over time your shoes will lose their support. If you don’t feel the time is right to go out and buy new shoes, or you otherwise believe your shoes are in fine shape, you can replace the insoles with new cycling shoe insoles to alleviate the issue
- Switch to a wider pedal to distribute the pressure across more of your foot
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How to prevent ankle pain
Many times when cyclists feel a nagging pain around their ankle, it’s the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon attaches your calf to your heel.
What may cause you to get ankle pain:
- Cleat position on your pedal
- Riding too much too soon, especially hills
- Tension in your lower leg muscles
- Try changing the cleat position on your pedal. Make sure your shoes aren’t too far forward. Cleats that are too far forward can strain the Achilles tendon as it forces it to pedal on your toes. You can reduce the tension on your Achilles tendon by having your toes pointed up during the bottom portion of the stroke, thereby taking care not to overwork it
- Build your mileage over time, especially when it comes to biking hills
- Stretch your calf muscles. When you are out riding, your calf muscles are in a near constant position so it’s important to counteract it
- Use a foam roller to keep your calves less tight
How to prevent knee pain
What may cause you to get knee pain:
- Height of your bike seat
- Cleat position on your pedal
- Weakness or imbalance of your butt muscles
- Riding too much too soon, especially in a big gear
- Get a proper bike fit, including making sure you adjust your bike seat to the correct height. If the front of your knee hurts, try raising your seat height. If the back of your knee hurts, try lowering your seat height
- Include strength training as a part of your cycling routine. Focus on strengthening your outer gluteal muscles
- Reduce the amount of time you spend in big gears
- Ride at a higher cadence in an easier gear to reduce tension on your knees
- Increase your training gradually
How to prevent hip pain
What may cause you to get hip pain:
- Riding too much too soon, especially in big gears
- Tight hip muscles
- Avoid riding too much in big gears
- Ride at a higher cadence in easier gears to reduce the pressure on your hips. A generally accepted cadence is 90+ rpm. If you’re unsure of what this feels like, and your odometer doesn’t tell you (or you don’t have an odometer!), try to find a stationary bike to test it out on. Stationary bikes generally provide the cadence at which you are pedaling.
- Work on your core strength so your core muscles can help your hip muscles when cycling to reduce the load off your hips
- Do stretches focusing on your hips
How to prevent neck pain
What may cause you to get neck pain:
- Improper bike fit
- Riding in a tense position
- Keep your shoulders down and relaxed as you’re riding so you will avoid tension in your neck muscles
- Avoid over-reaching to your handlebars. If you find yourself doing this, some adjustments should be made to your bike fit
- Do gentle neck rolls and shoulder rolls. This is something you can do when you are stopped at an intersection or even while you are riding
- Use a neck massager to help release tension around your neck muscles
How to prevent wrist pain and numb hands
What may cause you to get hand pain:
- Too much pressure on the handlebars
- Improper positioning of your hands
- Poor positioning of handlebars
- Avoid putting too much pressure on the handlebars
- Hold the handlebars in neutral position, so your wrists are not angled at a position that is too high or too low
- Every now and then release a hand from the handlebar as you are riding and shake your hand out
- Wear padded cycling gloves to minimize the direct pressure placed on the handlebars
- Adjust your handlebars to avoid putting unnecessary weight from your upper body on them
Tips to stay healthy and injury-free
You may have noticed some common themes among preventing these cycling injuries!
- Have a bike that is properly fitted for you! This is one of the best ways to avoid many common cycling injuries
- Ramp up your mileage strategically. Record your rides so you can track your progress and you can tell whether you are riding too much too soon
- Increase your overall strength. Sure, riding a bike will build those leg muscles, but you also want to complement that, as well as work towards any problems with muscle imbalance. Also don’t forget about your core. Your core muscles are your foundation and assist your other muscles, including legs, in cycling. Your core also contributes to good posture on your bike, and you know good posture is also key in keeping injuries at bay!
- When you’re riding, you can be in a sustained position for awhile, leading to tight muscles. It’s important to counteract that through working on your flexibility. There are some great yoga poses that can help in off-setting that tension
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