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  • Writer's pictureUltra Sports

Hitting the brakes on cycling injuries is no easy ride

It comes as no surprise that cycling is one of the world’s most popular sports.

cycling injuries physio

With an estimated one-billion bicycles in the world, cycling is bound to attract people by the millions. In many countries, bikes are already the preferred mode of transport so using them for recreational and competitive purposes follows as a matter of course.

But cycling is no easy ride.

While your typical “Weekend Warrior” might believe they are the next Jonas Vingegaard, it is a different story once they’re in the mountains or out on the road.

Muscles tense up, injuries occur, and the unfit may find themselves in severe pain.

According to Ultra Sports Clinic Clinical Lead and Physiotherapist Colin Hill, many cyclists experience knee pain in the form of Patellofemoral Syndrome, where the patella is malaligned or the patella tracking affected.

What many may not realise is that their bike set-up may be the root cause of their discomfort.

The seat height, the distance from the bars to your seat, foot positioning with cleats, all these different configurations make a difference,” Colin says.

Colin also sees many cyclists complaining of neck and back pain. Here again, the fault may lie with the equipment but muscle strength and endurance will save you.

“It can be something as simple as a helmet, which weighs about 1-2kg. If you sit in the cycling position and your neck is in a sustained extension, that weight makes a difference, even more so when you add the bumps and the G-forces during turns.”

Mountain bikers suffer heavily in this regard as the action of tightening their grip on the handlebars as they negotiate single tracks and ride over rocks works the neck and shoulders.

Road cyclists experience a lot of nerve pain in the hands and wrists.

“You find people who are not that fit taking part in big races. Suddenly they find themselves experiencing numbness in their hands. Not only is there pressure on this area, but when they tense up, they immediately grab hard on the bars.”

Of course, heavy spills are part and parcel of cycling and collarbone injuries are common.

Colin says treatment of a cycling injury depends on the cause, whether it is overtraining, trauma, the bike set-up, or biomechanical issues.

“You need to focus on the pain relief and their mobility. Then there is strengthening, which is where your rehab comes in. You can recommend specific exercises that can carry into their cycling as well.”

The rehabilitation of patients after a knee injury like ACL repair or a knee replacement may include exercise on a stationary bike, which doesn’t put as much strain on the joints. This also offers excellent cardiovascular exercise.

Sports massage is another important part of the process as it helps speed up recovery and improves flexibility, and increased blood flow to the muscles.

Finally, Colin says it is important for every cyclist to focus on strengthening exercises for the upper and lower body, as much as two or three times a week.



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