• Paolo Amat

How to prevent cycling injuries this Spring

The popularity of cycling in the UK continues to grow. Now, it’s suggested that 3.4% of people within the UK cycle 5 times per week, with almost 1 in 5 cycling once a month.

Cycling has become a perfect way to improve your health, facilitate weight loss and also save you money on transport. As we get closer to the spring season, with the days getting longer and warmer, cyclists hit the roads and start taking part in all manner of cycling events.

From experience, it’s common for cyclists to encounter injuries at this part of the season as intensity and volume ramps up. In this article, we will share some common injuries and preventative tips to prevent them happening in the first place.

Back and neck pain

When cycling, we sometimes spend 4 – 6 hours in the saddle with our hands on the handlebars, which most commonly causes back pain. In addition, we spend a considerable amount of time sat in front of a computer screen and straight away you're asking for trouble.

With increased periods of holding the lumbar spine in flexion (i.e., bending forward over the handlebars) this can lead to joint stiffness, irritation and muscle spasms. Furthermore, muscles in your buttocks are notorious for being the main culprit of common symptoms down the leg as a result of prolonged sitting.

The muscles around the neck, which hold it into an extended position for long periods of time, will start to fatigue and build up tension. This leads to knots forming in the muscle over time.

Management and prevention

1. Get your bike position and fit checked by a professional bike fitter (such as Primera Sports in Bournemouth) to prevent you from bending forward and overextending your neck whilst riding.

2. Investigate having a desk assessment (DSE) carried out at your work place. This will optimise your position and minimise injury.

3. Work on your core strengthening and conditioning to reduce the load on your back, at the same time developing your upper and lower limb strength.

4. It is essential to take regular breaks when maintaining high levels of activity for prolonged periods of time. This goes for both work and cycling.

5. Warming up before rides and cooling down efficiently, with additional mobility exercises stretches to help with injury prevention.

Saddle sores

Caused by excessive friction between the skin, clothing and saddle. Long periods of sitting can lead to skin irritation and itchy rashes.

Aged and worn shorts or clothing are just two common causes of saddle sores. Sitting lop–sided on the saddle is not the answer, as this may worsen the injury and delay recovery.

Management and prevention

1. Take preventative measures by avoiding further irritation, e.g. taking some time off the bike or getting a better fitting saddle.

2. You might want to consider using chamois cream to prevent further discomfort – a saviour when it comes to reducing chafing related issues.

3. Make sure your cycling shorts are cleaned regularly and you take them off as soon as you finish on the bike.

Foot numbness / “Hot Foot”

The term foot numbness or what is sometimes known as “hot foot” is caused by excessive pressure on the nerves on the back of the foot. This can lead to various sensations such as burning, numbness and pins and needles.

This can occur if your cleats do not fit correctly or are positioned too far forward. Excessive hill riding my cause significant pressure on the balls of the feet.

Management and Prevention

1. You may want to consider looser fitting shoes with adequate space to alleviate pressure.

2. Cleat placement is another factor – pick a pair with greater width to allow for better weight distribution.

How can PA Sports Recovery help you?

Contact Paolo to book in for an assessment of your cycling injury this Spring.

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