Cycling is an excellent way to increase strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health. However, most beginner cyclists are prone to getting injured.
Although certain injuries are unavoidable, there are things a cyclist can do to reduce the chances of getting injured from ailments like back pain. Here are some of the most common injuries and what you can do to prevent them.
Always Prioritize Safety
We share the road with cars as cyclists, and we must do all we can to guarantee that the two can coexist safely. Here’s how you can stay safe while cycling on roads, and specifically highways:
- Wear A Helmet: A helmet can prove to be a lifesaver in case of an accident. When cycling on the road along with cars and other vehicles, make sure to wear a helmet to prevent any severe head injuries in the event of a collision.
- Ride By The Rules: Cycles are subject to the same rules as cars, so make sure you adhere to them. Drivers have the same rights and responsibilities as you. Your safety and the safety of others around you are dependent on you following the law properly. Follow all traffic signals and stop signs, and indicate any changes in speed or direction using hand signals.
- Enhance your visibility: While you ride a bike, always assume that other drivers are going to kill you. To prevent accidents, do all you can to improve your visibility. Wear bright clothes, use lights and reflectors, and ride where people and vehicles can see you. Make eye contact with other bikers and pedestrians whenever feasible.
- Keep An Eye On Your Surroundings: Always keep an eye on your surroundings and the road ahead of you. Beware of any potholes or obstructions on the road to prevent any unexpected bumps. These may catch you off by surprise and send you crashing to the ground.
- Drive On One Side Of The Road: Try to stick to one side of the road while cycling. If there’s a specific lane for cyclists, use that instead. This will reduce any possibilities of potential accidents.
Types Of Bicycle Injuries
There are different types of biking injuries. Let’s have a look at some common cycling injuries that may occur.
Bikers must bend slightly to preserve good posture and prevent back pain. Improper body posture may cause neck or back pain, leading to fatigue in the long run. Your back must be bent in a linear curve when sitting on the bike seat to prevent back pain. Moreover, there should be no hunching around the shoulders, and both your right arm and left arm should never be stiff.
Between the saddle and the handles, there must be a 1-inch height difference and the bike seat should be taller than the handle. Neck pain, hip pain, and back pain due to cycling is common among people who ride large or small bikes with improper bike fit based on their age and size.
Head injuries are the most serious type of cycling related injuries that may occur while cycling. When a rider falls from their bicycle, the most vulnerable area of the upper body is the head, which may suffer serious damage and even result in death depending on the impact.
Minor cuts and bleeding to the head may also cause serious problems for the cyclist. Therefore, it’s important to keep your head protected and practice cycling injury prevention by wearing a helmet at all times when riding.
Wrist/Arm Pain or Numbness
While holding the handle, it’s best to keep your forearms slightly bent, and make sure they’re not 180-degrees straight. As bumpy roads may cause shocks to the elbows, keeping them in proper posture can help the rider experience less impact from the uneven pathways.
In addition, holding the hands and wrists in one position may exert excessive pressure or undue stress on the muscles surrounding the nerves, causing them to go numb, leading to muscle weakness in the hand.
Leg injuries are one of the most common cycling injuries that almost every cyclist experiences. Legs are the driving force behind your cycling journey, and they bear the brunt of the impact if you fall off. Knee pain, achilles tendon, and bruises on ankles are usually the result of reckless cycling. The pedals and chains often strike the legs, causing bruises that cause achilles tendonitis and burning sensation. Cycling on highways requires extra caution to avoid leg injuries caused by ongoing traffic.
You may have felt a tingling sensation on your foot as if needles were pricking it. This happens when the blood flow to that area of the body is inadequate. Keeping the knees bent in one position for a long time and repetitive motion may also lead to this problem when cycling, followed by knee pain as well. There are several reasons for this, including wearing tight cycling shoes, which puts too much pressure on that area.
People may experience pain in their genital regions as a result of tight seating and constant cycling. This is caused by a build-up of pressure in the blood vessels leading to the genital areas.
This issue arises because they are constantly in touch with the front portion of the seat. To avoid this problem, riders should wear loose clothing, sit on padded seats, and change positions often while riding.
How To Prevent And Treat Cycling Injuries?
Cyclists often complain about their knee pain and back getting hurt while riding. However, these injuries can be easily avoided and treated with simple care. Here are the best ways to prevent and cure cycling injury:
For cyclists and athletes in general, the most important thing is to have a good range of flexibility and motion to move their body easily and effectively. Stretching exercises help cyclists to re-align the thick and thin muscles after a ride and eliminate the lactic acid accumulation that causes the pain.
Lack of flexibility may also cause bodily imbalance and even lead the body’s structure to shift out of equilibrium. You may experience pain and injury if you do not practice proper stretching through a low impact activity before riding a bicycle.
The majority of us just get on our bikes and start cycling. However, you should move your muscles and connective tissues first to prepare them for pedaling.
It doesn’t take much time and simply activating your muscles and moving your joints through their full range of motion for two minutes can help get your muscles ready for exercise and prevent saddle sores and injury. Before your next ride, try doing a pre-cycling warm up to get your body moving.
Cycling can be a fairly static sport, requiring your muscles to stay in the same posture for a long time. Repetition of this posture increases the risk of fatigue. Try to move around when riding your bike and sit up straight to keep your spine extended. Twist from side to side a little and rotate your pelvis back and forth to get yourself out of the same position.
Get A Good Saddle
The saddle that comes pre-attached to your bike may not be very comfortable. You may experience saddle sores at times, leaving you with pain and numbness in the genital area during long rides.
If this is the case, put on some chamois cream to avoid saddle sores and just change your saddle. There are a number of saddles with wide backs or cutouts to select from that may help alleviate some of the pressure—and it’s a smart investment since the last thing you want is to develop severe urogenital or reproductive health problems due to saddle sores.
Keeping your muscles properly hydrated is the best way to prevent cramps and other cycling injuries. For shorter or simpler rides, water will suffice; but, for longer or more intense rides, you might have to replace electrolytes with a sports drink.
Muscle imbalance is a common problem among cyclists. Some muscles grow too powerful as a result of continuous movement, while others become too weak.
With strength training, you can maintain your body’s balance and prevent certain overuse injuries by strengthening your muscles and connective tissues. It can also help you maintain a good cycling posture since a strong core helps keep your back straight.
Getting a good bike fit, or at the very least taking the time to fine-tune things yourself, is well worth the money. You’ll be more comfortable riding the bike if you have everything set as per your preferences.
Consider things like saddle angle and height, cleat position, handlebars, and other factors. While it may be daunting, it’s important to take it one step at a time. It will reduce the chances of any injury caused by cycling in an incorrect posture.
Related: Bonking on The Bike- Explaining Different Cycling Limiters
Common Mistakes Made By Cyclists
Cycling in some situations can be challenging for beginners as well as seasoned riders. It has certain rules to follow that most people overlook. Let’s look at some of the most common cycling mistakes that you should avoid to prevent injuries:
Cycles require regular maintenance to ensure that they run safely and smoothly. Check the air pressure in the tires and make sure the handle bars, pedals, chains, brakes, and other components are in good working condition.
Wearing a helmet is the best way to avoid head injuries. Direct contact with your head during an injury is very lethal and should be avoided at all costs.
Cycling helmets are not mandatory in most countries, which leads to many fatal accidents. Even though it is not required, people must wear the right helmet size and type while riding.
The rider must be able to see well in front of them and freely open their mouth. Therefore, you and your children will need different-sized helmets for your cycling trips.
You must be aware of the traffic around you when riding on the streets or main roads. Many cycles have built-in reflectors that flash when other cars’ headlights shine on them.
There are rechargeable lights that you can connect to the front or rear of your bicycle to increase your visibility on the road when you switch sides. Many countries require cyclists to follow these rules, although some users are still careless in this regard.
Driving in violation of the law
In most countries, cyclists have their own set of traffic rules. Some states have dedicated cycling lanes that are clearly marked on the road. Furthermore, the cyclist must follow traffic regulations such as lane changing with the arms, wearing a helmet, utilizing reflectors or lights on the bicycles, and not riding in the fast lanes. Violation of laws is the most common cause of accidents.
Health conscious people often prefer cycling over other modes of transport. However, cycling injuries can happen anytime. These injuries can be easily avoided if a person follows safety guidelines such as wearing a helmet, following traffic regulations, and maintaining the bike in a proper condition.