Most Common Cycling injuries (and how to fix them!)
No one likes to be forced off the bike by injury or pain. Yet this is something that many cyclists will face. The good news? Every cycling injury can be treated! Here are some of the most common complaints we see and how to fix them.
Cycling involves a large range of motion and load through the knee and as such nearly 2/3rds of cyclists will experience some knee pain. This usually arises from an increase in load through the knee that irritates the muscles, tendons or joints and causes pain.
The knee joint is made up of 3 articulating surfaces: the thigh bone (femur) resting on top of the shin bone (tibia) and the kneecap (patella) sitting in the groove of the thigh bone. As we bend and straighten the knee, the kneecap moves up and down this groove within the patella tendon attaching the thigh muscle (quadriceps) to the shin bone.
The articulating surfaces between the kneecap and thigh bone can become irritated and this is called Patellofemoral Joint Pain Syndrome (read more here). This pain can be felt in the front, sides or top of the knee cap.
The tendon that attaches the thigh muscle to the shin bone (patellar tendon) can become overloaded and this is called Patellar Tendiopathy (read more here). This pain is felt directly over the site of the tendon just below the knee cap.
Both of these conditions can be fixed with:
Appropriate load management: Ensuring training loads are increased progressively and not too much too soon
Increasing the capacity of the knee: Strengthening the quadriceps, glutes, calves and hamstrings with cycling specific focus
Proper bike fit and position: small adjustments in fit (especially seat height, cleat position and fore aft), position and technique will be able to offload the knee and optimise performance
Lower back pain
Hours spent curled over the handlebars mean that one of the most common complaints cyclists suffer with is lower back pain. Add in that many of us have jobs that require more sitting and bending over computer screens and the problem can be exacerbated. The pain felt by most cyclists is non specific to any particular joint or injury and arises from being in sustained positions that places pressure on the joints and muscles.
Lower back pain in cyclists is most effectively manage with:
Mobility: Exercises specific to each individual's needs can alleviate pain and offset the amount of time spent in the cycling position.
Core strength: Improving core strength with cycling specific exercises will allow for better stability and support in the cycling position
Proper bike fit and position: small adjustments in fit (especially seat height and reach), position and technique will be able to offload the the lower back and optimise performance
When to see a physio?
If you have been experiencing knee or lower back pain as described above for >1 week, you should seek treatment. Your physiotherapist will assist you to reduce the acute pain as well as identifying the relevant contributing factors to your pain and address them with exercises, an appropriate load management plan and bike fit as necessary. At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy we will have you back doing your sport or hobby as soon as possible.
How can we help you?
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible. But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert physiotherapists or massage therapists so we can help you reduce your pain and get you moving again.