We’re all aware of the health benefits of keeping active, and what better way to enjoy the outdoors than hopping on your bike. Cycling is a great choice for physical fitness. Not only does it work your cardiovascular system but it also requires the use of many different muscles in your body. As with any sport though, there are some common injuries that can occur as a result of regular cycling.
It’s no surprise that back pain is a common complaint from cyclists due to the hours spent curled over the handlebars. Oftentimes the piriformis muscle becomes tight and irritated and causes pain that presents as hip pain or pain that travels down the leg. It is always important to have back pain assessed by a physiotherapist as he/she can determine the exact cause of the pain and then can teach you effective exercises and stretches that will help heal the pain and prevent reoccurrence. Core strength also plays an important role in our back health so your physiotherapist can set up a home exercise program that will help you improve your core strength and therefore reduce the stress that cycling can cause on your back.
Another common issue for cyclists is knee pain. Cyclists often experience patellofemoral pain syndrome which is caused from repetitive flexion/extension of the knee. This pain can result from over training but also from your bicycle being incorrectly set up (specifically your seat and pedals). Pain at the front of the knee can be a result of the seat being too low and putting pressure on the knee. Pain behind the knee can come from your bike seat being too high and therefore causing undue stretch on the hamstrings. If you are experiencing knee issues it’s important to seek physiotherapy to ensure proper healing of your injury and to allow you to enjoy biking pain free.
If you’ve ever gone for a long bike ride you’ve probably experienced neck pain. This pain is likely caused from hyperextending your neck to look up to see the road ahead. In order to help ease and avoid neck pain you need to condition the upper back muscles. With physiotherapy there are several treatment options available to help alleviate neck pain such as manual therapy, acupuncture, use of ultrasound to promote healing as well as strengthening and therapeutic exercises.
Now to discuss the pain that no one wants to talk about but does happen very frequently…injury to the pelvic floor. Cyclists can often experience pain and pressure in the groin and buttocks due to prolonged sitting or from having an improper bike seat. For males, numbing or tingling in the scrotum or penis can be caused from pudendal neuropathy (prolonged compression of the pudendal nerve). Female cyclists can experience vulval trauma as well as superficial abrasions and bruising. It is important to fit your bike with an anatomically designed bike seat and to also use padded cycling shorts to help cushion your pelvic region. Don’t forget that seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist can be very beneficial and can alleviate the pelvic floor discomfort you may be experiencing from cycling.
Cycling is a fabulous outdoor activity that provides many health benefits. Like any sport though you can experience injury. The good news is that most pain that results from those long bike rides can be alleviated from seeing one of the physiotherapists at A Body In Motion Rehabilitation. Whether it’s sore back or neck muscles or a strained knee or even a pelvic floor issue we are always here to help you heal and get back to doing what you love!
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan (Cycling weekly-July, 2020)
MP Schwellnus, MBBCh, MSc(Med).MD,FACSM, EW Derman, MBChB, PhD, FACSM (Common injuries in cycling: Prevention, diagnosis and management)
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