Top Five Most Common Cycling Injuries (And What To Do About Them)

Kevin Freedman, MD November 19th, 2018

Learn About the Top Cycling Injuries and How to Treat Them

There are dozens of benefits to cycling. First off, cycling is classified as a high-quality, aerobic exercise that is great for your cardiovascular health, whether you are cycling outside or inside on a stationary bike. This is a great activity for those with arthritis, because cycling places less pressure on the joints than running does. As an added bonus, cycling as a form of transportation decreases the amount of pollution released into the atmosphere compared to if you had travelled by car.

Bikers, however, are subject to cycling injuries. In fact, before incorporating this activity into your daily or weekly routine, you should take note of common cycling injuries and what to do if you get injured. The Sports Medicine specialists at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute strive to educate their patients about these injuries so they can take preventative measures to avoid them while enjoying the full benefits of this activity. Below are the five most common cycling injuries and their treatments.

Five of the Most Common Cycling Injuries and Their Treatment

  1. Knee Pain: Usually, knee pain experienced by cyclists stems from overusing the knees or exercising incorrectly. If your feet are not positioned properly on the pedals of your bike, your knees may twist out of the proper alignment, causing pain and inflammation.

    Knee Pain Treatment: If ice and rest do not totally soothe the area after a couple of days, see a Rothman Orthopaedic Institute physician for a proper diagnosis. Once you get back on the bike, incorporate prevention strategies by changing your riding position or the position of your feet on the pedals. This will help you avoid further knee pain. Also, the phrase “pace yourself” should not be underestimated; do not push yourself more than you have to while riding, as this could worsen knee injuries.

  2. Achilles Tendonitis: Cyclists are at risk of developing Achilles tendonitis, which impacts the tendon located behind the ankle that connects the heel of the foot to the calf muscles. This inflammation of the tendon can cause degenerative changes in the area, increasing the chance of an Achilles tendon rupture. Achilles tendonitis can become chronic if it is not treated in a timely manner.

    Achilles Tendonitis Treatment: Speak to a Sports Medicine specialist about which treatment options are the best for your individual case. Your doctor may recommend immobilization, a heel wedge to minimize stress, physical therapy, or other methods to reduce the pain and inflammation.

  3. Lower Back Pain: Pain in the lumbar region of a cyclist’s spine may occur during or after a long bike ride. Lower back pain may be the result of a muscle strain or sprain. Learn more about this common injury in our eBook, A Cyclist’s Guide to Managing Back Pain.

    Lower Back Pain Treatment: This kind of injury could have manifested from overuse. A rest period might be necessary to avoid aggravating your back muscles more. Performing back strengthening exercises can also improve the stability of your spine and help you get back to cycling faster. When you are back on the bike, start slow and be aware of your riding position. Ask an expert about your form and whether your bike needs to be adjusted to fit you properly. If you have reoccuring pain after treatment, seek medical attention.

  4. Clavicle Fracture: Many patients who seek treatment for a clavicle (or collarbone) fracture have crashed their bikes during a ride. While fractures vary in severity depending on the force of impact, taking a period of time off from cycling is essential to heal the broken bone.

    Clavicle Fracture Treatment: Your Rothman Orthopaedic Institute physician may recommend immobilizing the clavicle area (shoulder and arm) to support the healing process of the fracture. Clavicle fractures that are displaced, shortened, or fragmented might heal better with surgical treatment.

  5. Neck Pain: While cycling, neck pain can occur due to tightness in the neck muscles. This is another positional injury; when you are riding for a long period of time, the muscles become tired and taught. Because the neck is less protected than the rest of the spine, it can be more vulnerable to injury.

    Neck Pain Treatment: Do what you can to relax your neck. Rest, heat, and gentle neck stretches can ease the pain and loosen your muscles. When the neck pain subsides and you are ready to ride again, make sure your bike is adjusted to fit your body. Also, understanding how the gear systems on your bike work will keep you from overexerting yourself.

Do you have questions about the most common cycling injuries listed above? Would you like to speak with a Sports Medicine specialist at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute directly? If so, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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