Common Ailments Cyclists Encounter And How To Prevent Them

Cycling is a fun activity and provides many health benefits, from improved mental health to staying physically fit. A well-conditioned bicycle is the foundation of a comfortable and safe ride, but there’s always a risk of getting injured while cycling. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that every year, 2% of motor vehicle accident deaths account for bicyclists.

Moreover, cyclists are prone to risks caused by other cyclists, trees, vehicles, protruding roots, and bike failures. These risks often lead to physical injuries regardless of how skilled a cyclist is. Fortunately, you can maintain good health while enjoying bicycle rides if you understand cycling injuries, prevention, and treatment tips. Keep reading to learn more about common ailments cyclists encounter and ways to prevent them.

Head Injuries

Cycling is all about maintaining a momentum that forces cyclists to continue traveling forward even when the bicycle stops suddenly. As a result, cyclists often topple head first towards the ground, rocks, and trees, increasing the risk of getting serious head injuries. A head injury can be anything from a minor cut on the forehead or cheek to a traumatic brain injury.

To prevent head injuries, cyclists should make it a habit to wear helmets when on the road. Wearing a helmet is crucial, as it helps set a good example for young cyclists. A helmet protects your face, brain, and head by absorbing the impact of a fall or crass. Helmets, especially those with visors, can protect your eyes from direct sunlight, while bright-colored helmets make you visible to other road users.

Neck and Lower Back Pain

Cyclists maintain one riding position for a prolonged period, resulting in neck and lower back pain. You may also experience chronic pain in the neck if your bicycle handlebars are too low. When handlebars are in a low position, cyclists round their backs, thus putting a strain on the neck and lower back. Cyclists are also prone to neck and low back injuries due to tight hip flexor muscles or hamstrings.

Tense hamstrings and hip flexor muscles make cyclists arch their backs, causing the neck to hyperextend. There are several ways to relieve neck pain and lower back tension. This includes doing shoulder shrugs and neck stretches to reduce tension on the neck and adjusting your handlebars. Doing so ensures you don’t overstress the neck and back muscles. Stretching hamstring muscles regularly also goes a long way in enhancing flexibility and helps you maintain proper posture with ease.

Knee Pain

This is probably the most reported cyclist injury because the knee is the most overused body part during cycling. There are different knee injuries cyclists encounter, such as patellofemoral syndrome, patella tendonitis, and IT (IlioTibial) band syndrome. Each knee injury has unique symptoms. For example, the symptoms of patellofemoral syndrome are deep pain around the kneecap and stiffness when getting up. The cause of patellofemoral syndrome is muscle imbalance in the hip or thigh. To prevent this knee injury, adjust the saddle to fit your height, avoid putting a lot of weight on one group of muscles, and get into the habit of knee and hip stretches to ease tension over the kneecap.

IlioTibial or IT band syndrome is another common knee ailment cyclists experience that’s linked to pain on the outside of the kneecap and tightness in the thigh. Muscle imbalance in the knee because of improper saddle position and over-training is the primary cause of IT band syndrome. With that said, adjust the saddle to suit your height and stretch your leg muscles regularly.

Also, massage your thighs and legs using an IT band massage gun after cycling. Note that the IT band is a series of fibrous tissues that run from the hip to knee. And it can feel tight, so a cursory massage might not provide any results. Therefore, use your gun on each muscle group for 1-2 minutes while applying enough pressure. Most importantly, relax your leg before applying pressure, and don’t use the massage gun on the bone.

Forearm Pain and Numbness

After a long bike ride, it’s common for cyclists to complain about intense pain in the forearm or wrist. Also known as handlebar palsy, forearm pain, numbness, and tingling occur because of the pressure of the ulnar nerve that runs from the wrist, little finger, and ring finger. Prolonged pressure on the handlebar can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the wrist and palm. Altering your handlebar rotation and brake levers is one of the best ways cyclists prevent forearm pain. It’s also wise to include stretching and massage in your post-cycling routine.


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    Forearm pain and numbness, neck pain, lower back pain, head injuries, and knee injuries, including patellofemoral syndrome and IT band syndrome, are common ailments cyclists experience. However, you can prevent these injuries if you take precautions.

    For instance, wear helmets to protect your head from bruises in the event of an accident. Make sure your bike is a good fit for you, adjust the saddle to match your height, and avoid using handlebars when they’re too low. Physiotherapists also recommend adding muscle stretches and massage into your post-cycling activities to relieve muscle tension.

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    Common Ailments Cyclists Encounter And How To Prevent Them — Bike Hacks