Achilles Tendonitis : 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.
Knee Pain : 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.
Muscle Tightness : 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 : 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.
Saddle Sores : 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.