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Pain Free Cycling: Quick Fixes for Common Injuries

An avid cyclist, Dr. Jamie Grimes returned from France, riding in support of veterans living with PTSD and other battlefield injuries. Now that it is the summer cycling season here in Canada, Jamie has some tips for identifying – and avoiding – pain from common cycling injuries.

With summer cycling season in full swing and the Tour De Victoria is coming up in August, Team Synergy wants to help you keep healthy and in the saddle.

Like all sports, cycling has its very own set of common injuries. Besides injuries from falls or collisions, most cycling pains tend to fall into the following two categories:

1.  Chronic Pressure or Tension Injuries from the mostly static postures of the upper body.

2.  Repetitive Strain or Cumulative Trauma Injuries from the extremely repetitive motions of the lower body.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to completely avoid static postures or excessive repetitions with cycling.

The reality is we can only minimize or prevent the occurrence of injuries by focusing on optimal biomechanics in our individually unique “bike fit” and by managing the progression and planning of duration, intensity and frequency in our riding schedules for adequate tissue recovery and regeneration.

Minimize injuries with the right “bike fit”

Shorter, easier and less frequent rides rarely cause issues. However for competitive riders or those more addicted, needing their “frequent fixes” or marathon rides, will always require careful attention to bike position through a “bike fit” professional and maybe even the periodization and planning services of a cycling coach.

The most common cause of cycling injuries is seat height. Make the seat too high and it’s easy to hyperextend your knees as you cycle (a quick way to determine if someone’s seat is too high is to see if their hips “waddle” like a duck as they ride). If the seat is too low, it can also be hard on your knees and other joints, especially if you have other injuries.

So, it’s important to make sure you have the right “bike fit.” The best place to find out if your bike fits right is at your local cycling shop.

Common cycling injuries

Some common cycling injuries include:

  • Numbness, Tingling or Pain into the Arms and Hands (TOS)
  • Numbness, Tingling or Pain into the Legs and Feet (Sciatica, Piriformis)
  • Elbow Pain (Epicondylitis, Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow)
  • Middle Back Pain (soft tissue and bone pain)
  • Lower Back Pain  (soft tissue and bone pain)
  • Achilles Tendonopathy

I have a cycling injury. How do I get better?

In a companion blog post I answer the question: “I’m injured and in pain! Who should I see to fix it?” I explain the difference between chronic pain and acute pain.

If it’s too late for you and you’re already having some bike pain, or just in case you develop some in the future, I’ve prepared an accompanying blog post here that can serve as a treatment guide to some of the best treatments for common tissue types injured. It takes the guess work out of knowing what the best treatment for your injury should be.

Here are a few other resources you may find useful:

Bicycling.com – 7-steps-to-pain-free-cycling

Bicycling.com – Common causes of knee pain when cycling

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