With the Tour de France hotting up, here’s some advice on preventing cycling injuries.
Most road cycling is very much an endurance based exercise with the cycling itself being very low impact, but it doesn’t mean you will always escape injuries. Of course, you can fall off your bike and cause impact injuries, with fracturing of the collar bone a classic cycling injury that we’re bound to see on the Tour again this year.
However, let’s talk about some of the other injuries that may occur when cycling and some of the prevention strategies.
Most soft tissue and joint injuries associated with cycling are usually more mechanical and overuse based.
So the number one piece of advice is:
Make sure your bike set-up is correct. If your saddle is too low then you are far more likely to shorten up in the hamstrings, the muscles at the back of your thigh, which can have a knock on effect of tightening up your back and knees. An incorrect handle bar position can also have an impact.
Any issues associated with the bike set-up may develop quickly, but they may also take some time. So it’s worth getting some professional advice from an appropriate bike shop or bike club. Importantly, your bike set-up could also have a dramatic impact on your general performance!
Once you have your bike set-up as good as can be, then a good flexibility, strengthening and cross training regime can be useful in helping to prevent injury.
Always maintain good flexibility, stretching your hamstrings in particular and also your lower legs, quads and back. Cyclists, like runners, always tighten up in the hamstrings, which can have mechanical effects (tightness) – pulling your joints (torsion) and making other muscles tight and the potential of a soft tissue pull or strain more likely.
Maintaining good strength is obvious but maintaining good all round and balanced strength in your legs, back and upper body off the bike is important. Doing different types of strength work for these areas off the bike helps maintain good balance and may help in preventing injury.
As cycling is such a specific and endurance type of activity, repeating the same action for a long time, some cross training to support your cycling activity helps break any tension or tightness that may develop because of that repeated and sustained cycling action. Most training advice advocates cross training – mixing up your training, such as with a circuit class, weights or even some running track work, would enhance your performance and endurance, and also go some way to preventing possible overuse or tension related injuries.
And finally…Sports Massage
Most cyclists swear by a good sports massage. The Tour de France guys will be getting pre and post activity sports massage to reduce toxins (the bodies waste products) from the day’s race, so to reduce tension and muscle soreness, and help prevent any possible injuries. Find out more
For more advice on preventing cycling injuries, and if you require help to overcome an injury already sustained, please contact Central Physio here
Blog compiled by Kevin Huffington, Clinical Director at Central Health. Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevHuffington