Riding a bike is one of the most effective forms of cardio workouts that help reduce chances of stroke, heart attacks, depression, obesity and other health conditions. Fun and low-impact, cycling is suitable for all ages, and can easily be included in one’s daily routine. It is not totally without risk of pain or injury, however. Factors, including improper riding techniques, no pre-exercise warm-ups, bad bike fit, and lack of bike safety, may result in accidents and overuse injuries that have long-term consequences.
Common Cycling Injuries
Here’s a list of the most common cycling injuries, what causes them, and how they can be treated or prevented:
Defined as an overuse injury, Achilles tendonitis results from repetitive or heavy exercises that put sudden or too much strain and cause inflammation on the Achilles tendon. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the ankle area after cycling. Left untreated, it can lead to Achilles tendon rupture. RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is the main treatment for tendonitis. Medications, orthotic devices and surgery are reserved for more serious cases. Saddle height and footwear should also be checked to ensure that these are not putting too much strain on the ankles and calves.
Another common overuse injury in cycling, knee pain is mainly caused by cleats that were not been fastened properly. This is also true for conditions such as cyclist’s knee or patella and quadriceps tendonitis. Correcting the position of the cleats not only improve pedal strokes, but also prevent unwanted stress on the knees. Insoles also help reduce pressure.
Lower Back Pain
Most bicycle-related injuries stem from overusing and straining the muscles. One of the most common manifestations of this is lower back pain, which refers to stiffness and sharp pains felt from the lower back to the thighs and buttocks. It is caused by reduced flexibility on the hip and strain on the spine, as cycling requires the rider to maintain a flexed sitting or standing position for an extended period of time. Making sure that the bicycle’s saddles isn’t positioned too low or at a steep angle helps prevent lower back pain. Sufficient rest and stretching exercises will also alleviate tension on the back muscles.
Overuse of a muscle can lead to tightness, which in turn may lead to strains and tears. For cyclers, the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back are the most prone to stiffness. It is important then to stretch and do warm-up and cool-down exercises to maintain flexibility and reduce risk of injury. Treatment-wise, applying cold and hot compresses every 3-4 hours for 30 minutes works to relax the muscles. Massaging the muscles also helps stimulate blood flow and reduce spasms. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medicines and muscle relaxants may be prescribed.
Neck pain is characterized by an ache or tightness that begins from the base of the skull and radiates down the neck, shoulders and middle back. It is caused by reduced flexibility in the upper body and fatigue from holding up the head in a sustained position for a prolonged period. As a result, there is difficulty in rotating or bending the head. To prevent neck pain, the bike fit should be adjusted in such a way that the rider is in a more upright and relaxed position. Applying kinesiology tape and doing neck stretches can help loosen the muscles and relieve discomfort.
As the name states, these are skin irritations that develop overtime from friction between the buttocks, cycling shorts and the saddle. Wearing old, ill-fitting or poorly padded shorts also increases risk of developing saddle sores. This skin condition can be prevented by simply wearing appropriate cycling shorts, applying chamois cream, and adjusting the height of the saddle in such a way as to avoid friction points. Regarding treatment, one or two days off the cycle is enough to let the broken skin breathe. Epsom salt baths, hot compresses and topical ointments also help speed up healing.
Ardmore Orthopaedic Clinic provides specialized services, including orthopedic care and sports surgery, for the accurate diagnosis and immediate treatment of all types of bicycle-related injuries. To schedule an appointment with our Sports Surgeon
, call (65) 9631 7637 or send a message to email@example.com.
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