Tips to prevent injuries while cycling

Cycling and lower back pain

The back is a weak link for many riders. Cyclists usually develop strong leg muscles, but don’t always have the torso strength to support and resist the force from the legs. This can make your back work too hard and spasm, causing rapid fatigue. 
To prevent or remedy lower back pain, get into the habit of keeping your back straight, whether you are standing or riding. This will ease the pain and also improve your riding.

Lower back

Prevent injuries while cycling

Cycling and numb toes

Numbness (or ‘burning feet’) is most commonly caused by nerves being squashed. This is usually due to tight shoes, road vibration or too much climbing (which puts continuous pressure on the feet). 
To prevent or reduce numb toes:

  • Adjust your shoes, or the straps or cleats on your cycling shoe.
  • Make sure your feet are straight when you clip into the pedals (if you use cleats).
  • Remove any irregular seams, straps or buckles from your shoe that may be pressing against your foot.

Prevent injuries while cycling

Prevent injuries while cycling

Cycling and hand injuries

The earliest sign of a hand injury is tingling or numbness in the palm or fingers. To prevent or reduce hand injuries:

  • Observe how you are gripping the handlebars. The grip should be firm yet relaxed.
  • Change hand positions frequently.
  • Remember to keep your wrist straight.
  • Try padded gloves or handlebar tape to reduce the vibration.

Children aged 10 years or younger are at risk of trapping their fingers in the moving parts of a bicycle, such as the chain. Children should be warned about these hazards. Consider buying your child a bicycle with a chain guard.

Prevent injuries while cycling

Prevent injuries while cycling

Cycling and shoulder pain

Injury to the shoulder usually occurs during longer rides. It is mainly caused by placing too much weight on the hands, and riding with straight elbows. 
To prevent or remedy shoulder pain, keep the elbows slightly flexed to stop ‘road shock’ transferring to the arms and upper body.

Prevent injuries while cycling

Prevent injuries while cycling

Cycling and knee injuries

Knee injuries are generally due to overuse, and occur when a cyclist is riding too much or too fast. To prevent or remedy knee injuries:

  • Slowly build up your strength through training to minimise strain on the knees, and reduce the amount of hard training or hill work.
  • Pedalling in high gear for a long time will stress your knee joints. Switch to lower gears whenever you can.
  • If your saddle is too high or too low, stress is placed on the knees. Adjust your saddle’s height so you have almost straightened your knee with the ball of your foot over the pedal axle at its lowest position. Seek the advice of a professional bike fitter to determine the appropriate height for your saddle.
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