Quick Fixes for Common Cycling Pain and Injuries

cycling pain

The physical and mental health benefits of cycling every day is undeniable – and of course, we can’t ignore that adrenaline rush when trailing through the forest. It certainly is a good feeling and you also end up getting quite a workout. Unfortunately, cycling can often result in pain and a number of injuries.

So, while riding your cycle to work or simply to keep fit seems gratifying in the long run, it is vital to understand that the activity can also be a cause of some minor and devastating injuries – and most occur in a blink of an eye. Here is everything you need to know about some common injuries and what to do about them.

Cycling Pain in Your Lower Back

A forward leaning position while riding your bike is the largest cause for cycling related low back pain. What that does is put an immense amount of stress and pressure on your lower back joint as well as the spinal discs, causing inflammation and pain.

What to do about it?

While it may seem difficult to overcome the possibility of experiencing continuous lower back pain there are two very practical things you can do to resolve the problem quickly:

  • Raise the handlebars on your bike – this will significantly lower the flexion force put on your back while riding.
  • It is always a good idea to do some good lower back stretches before and after a cycling session. You are going to immediately start to experience good flexibility in both your lumbar and hip joints. It is wise to consult a good physiotherapist to discuss the best stretching exercises.

Frequent Headaches Due to Neck Pain while Cycling

Throbbing pain in your neck, the stiffness and the headaches are mainly caused due to a continuously flexed position or posture while you are riding. Problems in your neck can result in the long run – and can be exacerbated if you look up and around while cycling. If left untreated, neck pain can also lead to muscle tightening and stiffness as well as joint pain and headaches.

What to do about it?

  • Raise the handlebars on your bike to effectively lower the extension curve that forms in your neck.
  • For short periods throughout your cycling, make sure to alter your posture and sit upright to relax the muscles in the neck.
  • There are some effective neck stretches that you can do before and after riding to release flexion tension in the neck. Also, make sure you do some side-bending exercises as well; again, it would be best if you consult an experienced physiotherapist and discuss all the best options.

Pain in the Knees

This is one of the most common cycling injuries in Singapore. Knee pain can be irritating and can become a debilitating complication if not dealt with in a timely and effective manner. A common cycling injury, knee pain is fundamentally caused due to a low saddle on your cycle.

Secondly, it can also happen if your cleats are not in the best position. A low saddle translates into the fact that your knees will never get the chance to stretch fully, the same goes for your leg, because it is too low, your legs will never be straight. That can lead to a number of musculoskeletal problems such as shortened and tight hamstring, tension and stress on the kneecaps and a weak vastus medialis (a muscle that is responsible for maintaining a 10-degree knee extension).

These problems can lead to a vast number of knee-related complications such as overuse injuries, patella mal-tracking and patellar tendonitis. In addition, if you use cleats to connect your foot with the pedals – that is a good idea, but if you neglect to position them optimally, you will be causing harm to your knees.

What to do about it?

  • The first thing you should do is adjust your saddle, raise it to a proper level.
  • Ensure that the position of your cleats are optimal.
  • You can take off half the stress on your knees by cycling on a lower gear with each pedal stroke.
  • Opt for an expert bike-fit.

Tingling Pain in your Hands and Wrists

The leaning motion when cycling places are a lot of tension and force on your hands as well as your forearms. Do not grip your handlebars too tightly and change your gripping position from time to time to avoid further exacerbating the problem. This can in turn lead to a musculoskeletal problem known as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). You will experience a tightening in your wrists and forearms as well as pain in  your elbows and hands.

A painful tingling sensation in the hands is experienced by a majority of cyclists while some also report numbness – this is more common in the ring finger and/or in the pinkie. This usually occurs when your median nerves or the ulnar nerve is severely compressed as a result of tight handlebar gripping and a singular position of the wrists and forearms while riding. The condition can further get out of hand thanks to the continuous vibrations while your zip through any terrain.

What to do about it?

  • Be sure to alter your grip and position on the handlebars regularly.
  • Refrain from overextending your wrists; instead position them as straight as you possibly can.

Muscle Tearing and Strains

Another one of the most common cycling injuries Singapore is hamstring and calve tearing and straining. That is primarily due to the fact that during cycling these two muscle groups become increasingly tight, which may lead to different tendon injuries, muscle tearing and other vulnerabilities.

What to do about it?

  • Warm up and do some stretching prior to riding. This will help keep your hamstring and calve muscles nice and flexible. After you are done with the day’s riding, take a foam roller and gently massage your muscles to help get that myofascial stress release.
  • Adjust the height of your saddle; make sure it is not too high – if it is, it can place a lot of tension on your hamstring tendons.
  • Adjust your cleats to a optimal position; to avoid a strained Achilles tendon, make sure your cleats are not positioned too forward.
  • Take your long-distance cycling regimen step-by-step, pace your training and do not get ahead of yourself.

Slope Falls and Skidding Injuries

Cycling up the serene hills is not only exhilarating, but the more steeper you climb, the more your raise your heart rate, which pumps you with adrenaline, and that is when you truly feel alive. Hill cycling is ideal for significantly enhancing your cardiovascular health and endurance.

But it is also important to understand that the moment, even if it is for a split second, you lose focus and concentration and cycle through a wet patch on the hills, you can potentially skid or slip and experience a dangerous fall that can leave you with a laceration, bruises and abrasions. This can particularly happen when you’re a new biker in the city and don’t know how to get around.

What to do about it?

  • If you are climbing up the hill, it is vital to remain seated so that you are in full control of your motion while maintaining your pace and muscular endurance, especially on your calves and hamstrings.
  • Position the saddle slightly backward while seated to get a good leg extension. Remember you could adjust to a lower gear if you start feeling tired.
  • When riding downhill, don’t just thrust forward go down in drops. This will help minimise your center of gravity, helping you to maintain your balance and stability.

When Is It Necessary to Seek the Help of Professional Medical Help?

While the tips stated above will help if you experience the pain only when riding, it is important to seek professional help. Especially if problems like neck pain or lower back pain persist even when you are not riding. Persistent pain can be a sign of an injury – make an appointment with a physician or step into an orthopaedic clinic. This is necessary to eliminate the risk worsening condition from sustained injuries.

You may also reach out to a physiotherapist who can help design a comprehensive regimen for you in terms of enhancing your flexibility, releasing muscular stress, and getting rid of muscle tensions. In this case, an accurate diagnosis and effective physical therapy treatment plan will best suit your interests, aiding your recovery, whilst minimising cycling mishaps.

Keeping Yourself Informed

While the road to recovery is not far away, necessary precautions should be taken and keep yourself informed about how to prevent cycling injuries as this will benefit you in the long run.

To learn more about cycling injuries and how to keep yourself fit, sign up for our newsletter. We are always posting new content on our blog to hence feel free to check out our blog posts.

Experiencing neck pain? Click here to find out more about physiotherapy for neck pain relief and how Core Concepts can help

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