Common non-traumatic cycling injuries
1) Anterior Knee
a) Patellar tendonitis: Inflammation of the patella tendon originating from the tibia, usually due to overuse. With repeated irritation thus inflammation scarring and tearing can occur. Pain is usually centered on the lower tip (inferior pole) where it connects to the tendon. If the tendonitis is severe you may get localized swelling – bump or lump just below your knee. Pain is felt in the front of the knee below the patella, when you pedal or walk upstairs, but it will probably be worse descending the stairs. It will also hurt when you press on the tendon itself.1
b) Patellafemoral syndrome / Chondromalacia patella: Irritation of the cartilage behind the patella. Pain is often felt in the front of the knee when the knee joint is bent or flexed. It can often be caused by mal-tracking patella, poor foot mechanics or musculature problems.1
Generally caused by pushing big gears- cadence to low, saddle too low or too far forward, foot to far forward on pedal, crank arms too long1
2) Hamstrings / Calf strain
Possibly caused by saddle being too high or too far back, too much pedal float, leg length discrepancy. Can lead to excessive tension and tightness in the muscles.1
3) Inside of the knee (Medial collateral ligaments or medial meniscus)
Possibly caused by the cleat position being too wide so the foot is held externally rotated, excessive knee frontal plane motion or too little pedal float. Can lead to repetitive strain to cartilage and ligaments.1
4) Outside of the knee (Iliotibial band, Lateral collateral ligaments, Lateral meniscus)
Possibly caused by cleat position too narrow- foot is held inwards, too little pedal float.1
5) Ulnar neuropathy- Symptoms include: pins and needles or numbness in the little finger, the little finger side of the ring finger and the outside border of the hand. Pain on activity that involves the little finger muscles working hard e.g. pinch grip, climbing, playing the piano. A feeling that the hand is clumsy.
6) Carpal tunnel syndrome- the main symptom is pins and needles and/ or numbness in the area of the hand that the median nerve supplies i.e. the thumb, 1st, 2nd and thumb side of the third finger on the palm side of the hand. Shooting pain may sometimes be felt going up the course of the nerve i.e. shooting up the forearm. Symptoms are often worse at night and during the day when lifting or griping something.
7) Neck and back injuries
Neck pain usually relates to the prolonged time that cyclists spend in an extended position. Neck extension with shoulders in a depressed (downwards) position increases neural tension, which can be exacerbated if your handlebars are set too low or you fail to keep your elbows slightly bent. Excessive or prolonged stretching of the nerves can result in pain, numbness or tingling in the nerve distribution down the neck and arms.2
Muscle fatigue, chronic tension to vertebral ligaments and prolonged compression to intervertebral discs can all be responsible for ongoing backache.2
8) **External Iliac Arteriopathy- an uncommon but serious cause of leg pain, burning or numbness and loss of leg power during cycling. Caused by repetitive hip flexion with high blood flow volumes. The repetitive stress on the artery by the hip flexor muscles creates a fibrosis in the artery.
Compression garments- possible benefits:
- enhancing blood circulation to peripheral limbs
- reducing blood lactate concentration during maximal exercise bouts
- enhancing warm-up via increases in skin temperature
- increasing vertical jump height
- improving repetitive jump power
- reducing muscle oscillation upon ground contact
- increasing torque generated about joints, improving performance and reducing the risk of injury, for example, assisting the eccentric action of the hamstring at the end of the swing phase in running
- enhancing recovery following strenuous exercise by aiding in the removal of blood lactate and improving subsequent exercise performance
- reducing the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness in the days following strenuous exercise
- increased feelings of positive leg sensations both during and following strenuous exercise.
After exhaustive exercise, muscle glycogen stores are depleted. The 60-minute post exercise window is the best opportunity to replace these stores with carbohydrates and protein.
Stretching after exercise helps keep the muscles loose and the light contractions help move blood and waste products the help the body recovery. See attached exercise sheet for the top recommended stretches for cyclists.
This can be done by a professional or you can use self-massage. If you are using self-massage, lay on the floor with your legs up on the wall so they are at a 90 degree angle to your body. Knead the muscles you can reach for 15 minutes. Having your legs up helps drain waste products from the legs, so when you sit up, fresh blood full of nutrients flood the legs speeding up the healing process.3
Don’t stand when you can sit down, don’t sit when you can lie down. When not training, get off your feet. Take a nap if you can. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep each night. One bad night of sleep can mess up your training week as it is hard to make up for lost sleep.3
Recovery rides are important both after an event and on rest days. When you have finished an event, stay on the bike spinning very lightly for 20 minutes to flush out the legs. You don’t want to stop and have the waste products produced during the ride just pool in the legs. On days after hard rides or races, 20-40 minutes of super easy spinning will let you recover quicker than complete rest. The increased blood flow to the legs helps get important nutrients to the muscles and flush out waste products without being so hard as to need recovery.3
2) 2) http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/cycling-injury-choose-the-right-bike-to-avoid-injury-33612
4) De Glanville KM and Hamlin MJ. Positive Effect of Lower Body Compression Garments on Subsequent 40-km Cycling Time Trial Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2012 Jan 10 (abstract).
———————-Great Stretches for Cyclists——————
Seated hamstring stretch
IT Band stretch
Low back stretch
Thoracic extension stretch
Hip flexor stretch
Modified quadriceps stretch
Chest and back stretch
THE 5 Minute Core Routine (Better than 6 Minute Abs!!)
Hold 30" working your way up to 1'
Alternate 10 times. Modify by placing an exercise ball beneath your stomach
Side Plank: On your Straight Arm or Forearm. Hold for 30" building up to 1' per side
Roll up into a bridge. Tighten your abdomen and maintain a level pelvis while you straighten one leg out, then switch. 10x both sides.
Perform with upper body lifted or down. Straighten alternating legs as low as you can while maintaining contact between your low back and the floor. Repeat 10x
On all fours, extend opposite arm and leg outward then bring them together as you perform a crunch. Replace both onto the floor and change to the other side. 10x each
Go ahead and do this routine once a day! Your form, quality of movement and sustained hold for some should improve very quickly. Your increase in core strength will only help you make gains in your sport performance and reduce injury.