Cycling has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, be it urban cycling for commuters hoping to beat the morning rush or off-road cycling for the more committed cyclist looking for an extra fitness challenge. With National Bike Week taking place from the 11th to 19th of June, many more people will be taking to the road than usual. Unfortunately an increase in bikes on the road goes hand in hand with an increase in cycling related injuries. This blog will outline some of the more common ones and the best way to deal with them.
Cuts & Grazes
Small surface injuries can be seen as part and parcel of any exercise or sport, but with cycling they can add up over time to become increasingly uncomfortable. In addition to the normal grazes incurred as part of a bad turn or fall on the bike, many off road and competitive cyclists can find they suffer friction burns at some point, particularly the saddle.
The easiest solution to most small injuries is to stay focused while on your bike - there's no opportunity for drifting off if you want to keep on the road. For more serious friction issues, the recommended solution is a comfortable, good quality saddle and sufficient padding in your cycling clothes. Your body will adjust to cycling over time and you'll find these injuries occur less and less.
If you find you suddenly can't feel your feet while you're cycling, don't panic - foot numbness is quite common when cycling and is usually the result of improperly sized footwear (or cold weather). Ill-fitting shoes squeezing your foot, or improperly placed cleats can increase the pressure on your feet. Make sure your footwear is fit for purpose and isn't too narrow or too large - only shoes that suit you will give you the proper support on the main road or the back roads.
The modern office worker is not as physically active as our counterparts in older generation, with long hours spent sitting down at meetings or at the computer. Bad posture can generate small recurring back pains which prolonged cycling will aggravate. This can be compounded further by not sitting in a neutral position while cycling or on a bike that isn't exactly the right size for you. The solution is to ensure that you invest in a bike of sufficient quality and that it is adjusted to fit your height and build exactly. You'll be amazed at how quickly those long term effects vanish once you've found the perfect riding position.
As your legs are engaged so heavily while cycling, it can put a lot of unusual stress on your knee joints. The repeated bending and straightening of the knee can lead to repetitive pain if not monitored properly. The most common cause of knee injury is doing too much too soon and being overly ambitious in your exercise routine. The best prevention is knowing your limits and taking a break from the activity once you feel the discomfort starting to grow. If it becomes overly painful, an ice pack and rest is the best thing for it.