Cycling is ever growing in popularity but like all sports, injuries can prevent us performing to our best and enjoying it as much as we might. Injuries frequently associated with cycling are as a result of repetitive overuse, particularly if “faulty” biomechanics are present. Having a well-fitted bike is a good starting point, but even with a good setup a number of factors can contribute towards various aches and pains. Outlined below are some of the most common ones:
– Knee Pain
– Lower Back Pain
– Neck Pain
Knee pain is not uncommon in cyclists, and it can affect the inside, outside, front or back of the knee. Biomechanics and the physical demands placed on each of the structures of the knee will dictate which area is likely to be affected, such as the knee position in relation to the pedal on the downward part of the pedal stroke.
In order to treat correctly, a good physiotherapy assessment is required to establish the cause of pain. The symptoms will then be treated, and when these are under control underlying causes will be established and altered accordingly. These may include your position on the bike alongside any appropriate strengthening and stretching.
This short video shows the basics of a decent bike fitting.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is also a fairly common occurrence among cyclists. It tends to be more of a muscle ache than a sharp pain, and is often caused by prolonged maintenance of the cycling position, particularly on road or time trial bikes where you are leaning forward for a prolonged period.
Once again, the exact cause of pain will be determined by an in-depth assessment which can then be treated accordingly. In order to minimise the chance of recurrence once treatment is completed, your position on the bike may be observed and altered as well as an appropriate strengthening programme for the extensor muscles of the lower back – Pilates can be particularly effective for this.
Neck pain is another commonly occurring problem for cyclists, again particularly for those who ride road or time trial bikes. Due to the forward lean position of the body we need to extend [tilt back] our head in order to see where we are going. Prolonged time spent in this position can lead to significant tightness in the neck and across the tops of the shoulders, possibly with some irritation of the joints in the neck.
Exact treatment will depend on the findings of the assessment but normally includes deep tissue massage, mobilisations for any stiff or inflamed joints and acupuncture can also be effective. Specific strengthening and stretching will be done alongside any appropriate adjustments in your position on the bike.