Happy National Bike Month! With the weather getting warmer and the roads becoming bike friendly again, cycling injuries become much more common. Not all injuries can be avoided, but there are some simple steps to help reduce the risk of injury.
1. Achilles Tendonitis
As the largest tendon in the body the Achilles tendon endures a lot of wear and tear. Your Achilles connects your calf muscles to your heel bone and is used for nearly all activity. Achilles tendonitis typically occurs from the overuse of the calves. Cycling puts a fair amount of strain on the calves if the bike is not fitted properly, if there is improper warm up before rides or due to inadequate rest time between long bike rides.
Because Achilles tendonitis is caused by inflammation due to overuse, it is important to rest and ice to decrease inflammation. Sometimes Achilles tendonitis occurs because the saddle sits too high. This puts constant strain on the calves because the toes are always pointing down when the leg is extended.1 Be sure to lower the saddle enough that your heel makes contact with the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Doing this will help take off some of the strain put on the calves.
2. Neck Pain
Riding in the same position for a long period of time puts quite a bit of strain on the neck. Cycling changes the natural weight distribution of the muscles surrounding the spine. This puts your neck in an awkward position which causes muscle stiffness and soreness, but often this can be prevented by insuring proper bike fit and position.
To help alleviate neck pain, use proper bike fit recommendations that puts your whole spine in a good position2:
3. Muscle Tightness
Though you may not notice it while cycling, your calves and hamstrings are probably too tight. A proper warm up is necessary for all athletic activity, including cycling. Cycling is a repetitive movement that uses a limited range of motion causing adaptive shortening, resulting in muscle tightness3. Be sure to always, warm up, dynamic stretch and cool down to avoid muscle tightness.
1. Ray, L. (2015). Is Biking Good for the Achilles Tendon? Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/380290-is-biking-good-for-the-achilles-tendon/
2. B. (2015). 3 Top Tips to Avoid a Stiff Neck from Cycling - Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved May 09, 2016, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/08/3-top-tips-to-avoid-a-stiff-neck-from-cycling/
3. Murphy, S., & C. (n.d.). Eight injury-busting stretches for cyclists. Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/article/eight-injury-busting-stretches-for-cyclists-26074/
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