Cycling & Injuries: Just part of it or avoidable?

Cyclists do get injuries all over their body from head to toe depending on its causes. Traumatic causes can include bike crashes, bird attacks, potholes etc. Non-traumatic causes is usually due to poor bike set-up or poor load management. I will talk about some of these non-traumatic causes and what you need to look out for.

Types of Injuries in Cycling

1. Neck pain: Usually due to sustained neck extension and often related to the side the cyclist has to look over.

Possible bike errors: Handlebar too low, too far forward or too wide; or saddle height could be too high.

2. Shoulder impingement: Usually caused by shoulder flexed more than 90 degrees for sustained periods, or excessive elbow extension.

Possible bike errors: Saddle position and height might be too high; stem length could be too long; the drop (vertical distance between seat and handlebar) might be too low; or the handlebar could be too wide.

3. Lower back pain: Usually due to excessive lumbar flexion or extension as a result of weak trunk muscles or poor core control.

Possible bike errors: Saddle tilt is too high or low, or the saddle is too far back; the stem is too long, or the drop bar too tilted.

4. Cyclist’s Palsy: Is the loss of sensation and motor functions of the hand and wrist due to hyperextension of the wrist, or excessive weight on the hands.

Possible bike errors: Worn-out handlebar padding; or the saddle could be too high.

5. Nerve compression in perineum: Numbness or decreased blood flow to the perineal region from sitting on the saddle in male cyclists can lead to erectile dysfunction (the more compression there is from the saddle, the more nerve dysfunction occurs).

Sores around thighs/buttocks: Minor skin chafing / irritation or skin breakdown can occur from prolonged cycling.

Buttock pain: Can be due to compression on “sits” bones from the saddle

Possible bike errors: Inappropriate saddle width, hardness, tilt and relative height of handlebars.

6. Hip bursitis/friction syndrome: Due to rubbing of soft tissue over outer thigh.

Possible bike errors: Saddle too low.

7. Hip impingement, labral tear: Due to pinching of top of thigh bone against hip socket.

Possible bike errors: Saddle is too low; crank is too long; or body leaning too far forward.

8. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Pain at the front of the knee due to high compression forces on the knee cap when the knee bends too much during cycling.

Possible bike errors: Saddle too low or too far forward.

9. Patella tendinopathy / enthesopathy: Pain around the tendon at the knee cap due to overuse, especially in uphill cycling.

Possible bike errors: Saddle too low causing increased load on knee

10. Hamstring tendinopathy: Pain around back of the knee, due to overuse of hamstrings.

Possible bike error : Saddle too high.

11. Achilles tendinopathy: Not common. Likely due to technique error causing heel to drop below pedal; cyclists with pre-existing Achilles tendon issues may get pain with overload during cycling.

12. Nerve irritation in foot (Morton’s Neuroma): Nodule between toes due to compression from soft-soled shoes which are too tight shoes or toe straps fastened too tightly may also cause foot numbness.

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