Cycling: 5 common issues.

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As I’ve already given you some great reasons to take up cycling, I thought it only right to help you prevent and treat the most common cycling injuries and ailments, so you can really enjoy your bike over the summer months!

Most people who have owned a bike can relate to a few of these problems and even seasoned pros fall victim to some of the more common issues, but don’t let that get you off your bike. Follow this advice to deal with the most common cycling stresses:

1. Saddle Sore.
Saddle sores are a big issue. They have been known to end professional races for some athletes, but are a lot more common in recreational cyclists.
Causes: Sores or abrasions in the saddle area can be caused by a number of things, including poor saddle fit, incorrect saddle height and poor choice of clothing.
Prevention: Firstly, have your bike fitted. I actually have a friend who still rides his bike that he bought when he was 15. Funnily enough, he gets a bit sore on every ride! That’s because his bike, and saddle, are set up for his 15-year-old self and not his 20-something body as it is now.
It is important to get your position on a bike checked by either an experienced coach or knowledgable bike shop staff member.
There are also other methods of preventing saddle sore including:

  • Select the right seat – as above, get a professional seat fitting at the cycle store.
  • Stand frequently – when cycling, stand in the peddles for about 20 seconds every couple of minutes. This will allow the blood to circulate around the area.
  • Use smooth clothing – look for shorts that are made of one piece in the crotch. This will lessen the rubbing caused by stitching.
  • Use lubrication – this helps in reducing friction in the crotch area.
  • Keep clean and strip quick – wear clean clothing for each new ride, and when you’re done make sure you get out of that sweaty stuff quickly to shower off.

Treatment: If you do get a saddle sore, there are only a couple of things that can be done. Firstly, medicate the affected area. Secondly, rest until the sore has gone.

2. Hand pain/numbness.
Some cyclists get hand pain when cycling for long periods of time. Numbness in the little finger and ring finger is the most common form of hand ailment.
Causes: The numbness is caused through lack of circulation, usually from the cyclists weight pressing down on the hands. As well as this, the road vibration or ‘buzz’ can contribute to numbness.
Prevention/Treatment: To prevent the numbness, try changing your riding position every now and then. Redistribute your weight to allow blood to get back into the fingers. Padded gloves can help the problem also, as well as padded/undercoated bar grip.

3. Back pain.
Back pain can trouble cyclists on long journeys. Common more so in road bike users, back pain can put a sharp stop to your cycling fun.
Causes: Back pain when cycling is caused by lack of flexibility or bad posture in general. The riding position can overstretch back muscles, especially if the muscles are not used to it. If you sit at a desk all day or are mostly inactive, you could be at risk of back pain.
Prevention/Treatment: Try to keep active while at work to loosen up tight back muscles. Read my previous article on how to break up sedentary periods for tips on keeping active while at work. Also a good stretching routine can help with any lower back pain.

4.Knee pain.
Knee pain can be very common in cyclists, and can also be one of the main reasons to stop cycling.
Causes: Knee pain can be caused by weak or tight muscles around the knee cap. If these muscles are weak, the knee cap can move in ways it shouldn’t, causing friction and swelling, and ultimately pain. It can also be caused by poor bike setup.
Prevention/Treatment: Make sure the your bike is set up for you. As mentioned above, get a knowledgable person to assist you in this. To treat knee pain, apply the RICE method:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

5. Neck pain.
Neck pain can be common in cyclists who ride for long periods of time.
Causes: Likely to be caused by hyperextension of the neck muscles or lack of flexibility, similarly to back pain.
Prevention/Treatment: Try riding in a more neutral position, allowing your head to be above your shoulders rather than in front of them. Also, straighten up your body when you stretch. Neck exercises could also be done to strengthen your neck muscles.

If pain from any of the aforementioned areas is ongoing, I would definitely recommend seeing a specialist. I hope these tips give you some great information, and here’s to many more exciting rides!

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About Author

As a physical education graduate and qualified personal trainer, Mathew is very knowledgable when it comes to fitness. Outdoor training is a personal favourite of Mathew’s but he also has a high degree of gym based experience.
Location: Carlisle

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