Cycling can be a great way to enjoy outdoors while remaining active. It has all sorts of health benefits including engaging your legs while being easy on the joints and giving you a sense of freedom and enjoyment. As a sport, it has become increasingly popular around the globe.
Cycling uses all of your major leg muscle groups at different phases. This can be very good for strengthening but overuse or compensation for a weak zone may cause an imbalance, which eventually leads to cycling injuries.
Common Problems in Cyclists
Cycling injuries most commonly stem from improper bike set up. Ideally, the seat height should be from the centre of the seat to the highest point of the greater trochanter.
If your position on the bike is not optimal, you’re more likely to overwork some of your muscles and joints, whilst others are less used. Eventually, this can lead to pain.
If the seat is below the ideal height, cyclists may experience iliotibial band issues, patellofemoral pain syndromes and restrictions in the hip. If the seat is higher, they are more likely to suffer from sciatic nerve pain, back pain and upper body pain. A seat that is too high can also result in excessive lateral movement on the saddle, which in turn reduces the efficiency of the lower limbs throughout pedal strike.
Other common problems among cyclists include overuse conditions and acute injuries from falls or collisions. They also suffer wrist numbness due to nerve compression. Cyclists also get calf strains from sprint finishes when turning the crank at increased speed and explosive power.
How to Prevent Cycling Injuries
A properly fit bike and balanced body will reduce your likelihood of cycling injuries. Here are some basic tips to enjoy your ride while preventing pain:
Set up your bike properly. With correct bike setup, you can prevent or successfully manage overuse injuries. A good bike setup can improve your stability and therefore minimise traumatic and fall or collision injuries.
Make sure your bike is in good condition. It is important to maintain your bike in good working order. Have your bike checked regularly to ensure it is safe and secure.
Ensure your cleats are properly adjusted and regularly checked. If you’re not used to wearing them, practice in a safe area before riding on the roads.
Practice proper technique. Maintaining revolutions per minute (rpms) of your pedals anywhere between 60 and 110 can prevent leg fatigue and reduce risk of knee injury.
Ride safely. This includes not going beyond your own ability level, keeping your eyes on the road, staying alert and taking breaks to rehydrate and re-energise.
How Physiotherapy Can Help
Physiotherapists can use their knowledge and expertise to provide guidance in cycling posture and bike set up to ensure you get the benefits of cycling in a pain-free way.
A physiotherapist will assess your body, provide tests of spinal and neural mobility, hip and lower limb joint range of motion and muscle power. Any imbalances or specific weaknesses identified can be addressed both on the bike and also through specific core and stability exercises.
At i Physio Perth, our therapists are well-trained to carry out assessments of individuals regardless of expertise and experience level. They work to optimize your movement patterns and biomechanical efficiency as you perform while reducing risk of injury so you can enjoy cycling on the road.
Our Perth physiotherapists can help get you more out of your cycling. Call i Physio Perth at (08) 9444 8729 today!