Cycling– particularly long distances– certainly has its upsides. It can be a killer cardiovascular workout. It’s relatively low-impact on your joints and bones. And, at times, it can even be quite social if you find a friend, riding partner, or group to pedal with. What’s not to love?
If you’re enjoying going the distance on your bike, great— just be sure to take caution as you work this into your routine on a regular basis. Like anything, cycling does carry some inherent risks, and the probability of these risks increases as you up your mileage. To offset, your diligence to protect your body from potential injury should also increase. What does this mean?
Read on as we detail some of the most common cycling injuries to watch out for, and how to take care of your body while increasing your time on two wheels.
Lower And Upper Back Pain
One of the alluring aspects of cycling longer distances is the amount of ground that you’re able to cover without pounding your joints. And it’s what makes cycling such a great activity for almost all ages! However, when you’re cranking out the miles, it also means an extended amount of time hunched over those handlebars, which can quickly turn into nagging lower and upper back pain if you’re not careful. This repetitive positioning over your handlebars can make your entire back tighter and more susceptible to injuries like muscle strains.
Reduce the stress caused by this stance by maintaining good posture while on the bike. In other words, keep your core lightly engaged, your back long, and your shoulders back and down. Be careful not to let them creep up to your ears as you get tired. And be sure to do posture checks throughout longer rides especially, to ensure that your form isn’t slipping as you get more fatigued.
Another often overlooked factor regarding good (and comfortable!) posture on distance rides is the fit of your bike. If you’ve never been fitted for a bike or are unsure of your positioning on the bike, a trip to a specialty cycling store can work wonders. They have a keen eye for spotting problem areas within a bike’s fit on any given person, and will be able to either help you make adjustments to the bike itself, or recommend the best equipment to suit your needs.
Many cyclists also complain about knee pain– and it isn’t too difficult to understand why. When you look at the repetitive motion that your knees are put through, it’s easy to see how this area could be subject to overuse. IT (iliotibial band) band syndrome is an injury that is rooted in the band that runs from your hip, down to your outer knee, wrapping around and attaching at the top of the shinbone. If the muscles around this band become overused and tight, it can begin to put pressure and strain on the attachment point– particularly the one that attaches to your knee. And, of course, the more repetitive motion that you subject your knee to, the worse the tightness and pain will get.
It’s also common for cyclists to complain of pain under their kneecaps– often referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome. This is pain caused by inflammation under your kneecap, usually stemming from particularly tight muscles surrounding the knee, thus putting undue stress through the area. Again, repetitive motion makes this worse.
Both of these scenarios occur from overuse and overly tight muscles. Try working in a standing IT band stretch as well as a standing quad stretch to help ease the tension and loosen these areas. You can work these in throughout a normal day, but they should be utilized directly before and after riding in particular.
Again, an ill-fitted bike can really make matters much worse for your knees. If you’re struggling with knee pain in your cycling routine, be sure to check in with a cycling shop to ensure that the fit of your bike isn’t making your problems worse.
Bike accidents happen, and unfortunately, when they do, your body absorbs the brunt of this impact. It should go without saying that these crashes are why always wearing a helmet is so imperative. And, because of the impact that your relatively unprotected body takes from a crash, seeking out medical care is also especially important after a particularly bad tumble. Even if you don’t think you have any broken bones, you’ll want to take extreme caution if there is any possibility of head injury.
As for the rest of your body, some of the more commonly overlooked injuries from crashes or falls are muscle strains. When we fall, our muscles tense up to prepare for the impact.
Though there are some great at-home rehabilitation routines to follow with these instances, we can’t stress this enough: if you’ve been in a bike crash, seek medical attention. Trained professionals can help guide you through protocols specific to your needs following an impact incident, help boost your healing process, and ensure that nothing more serious is at play.
The Role Of Chiropractic In An Active Lifestyle
Another great way to support your active lifestyle and increase your cycling longevity is through consistent chiropractic care. Whether you’re feeling a bit beat up from long hours hunched over the handlebars, or you’ve suffered a bit of a crash, it’s easy for your spine to become misaligned in the process. Because our bodies are so intricately interconnected, these misalignments of the spine can lead to back pain and nerve damage– and begin to wreak havoc when left untreated.
Chiropractic can help correct these misalignments. Through the use of gentle adjustments, chiropractic treatment helps to alleviate some of the pressure and irritation caused by the misalignments, while guiding your spine back to a normal and healthy placement and effectively treating the root of your pain.
Additionally, consistent chiropractic care can help give your body more support, which becomes especially important as you increase your activity level. Take care of your body, and increase the longevity of your active lifestyle. Schedule an appointment online or call (949) 380-8883.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.