bike fitting

Preventing Cycling Injuries

If you are prone to sports injuries, there are two activities I’d suggest for you. The first would be swimming. It’s always my suggestion for people who want to lose weight but have issues (joints, knee injuries, back pain, etc) but I’m biased because I love swimming. The other alternative is cycling. Cycling is a very body-friendly activity and a good way to get fit without getting hurt.

Like most young people, I thought I was invincible. I started running with no training plans other than listening to my body and doing what I thought I could do. I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but luckily had no injuries. I had a bout of bursitis in my ankle, sacrum strain and some very sore muscles, but nothing awful. But I realize now that I made the common rookie mistake: doing too many miles, too soon.  (Read 8 Mistakes I Made While Injured)

With cycling, though, the injuries are fairly limited as long as we do a few things right.  (Read Bike Buying Mistakes) Obviously follow the rules of the road, pay attention to cars around you, wear a HELMET at all times on the bike, and wear reflective clothing. Continue reading for more tips.

The first thing is crucial: get a proper bike fitting. Don’t ride a bike that isn’t right for your body. You’ll regret it (and so will your lower back) if you don’t get fitted!

Strengthen your core. Strength training is so crucial and I noticed that when I spent a good amount of time weight training that all my other sports improved tremendously. Balance in the body is key! A strong core will make those long bike rides much easier, more comfortable and you won’t be sore afterward.

Another common injury is saddle sores. I never really had this issue, even as a newbie rider, but I did have soreness. The tip to overcome this: good cycling shorts. They also make creams to put on your nether-regions before biking long miles to prevent chafing. It’s uncomfortable but they work.

The other body issues that can come up are really about tension. Is your neck and shoulders sore the day after a ride? Check your posture on the bike. Are your toes going numb? Maybe your shoes are too tight, or you need to wiggle your toes periodically while riding. Are your hands and wrists hurting? Maybe you’re gripping the handle bars too tightly. Just being aware of your body while riding can help a lot of issues.

Just like with running, you don’t want to do too many miles too soon. A friend of mine who has started biking recently asked me about the “cycling marathons” I do. 🙂 I had to laugh at that terminology. It reminded me that maybe not everyone knows that a Century means 100 miles on the bike! My friend wanted to do a Century with her friend and when I told her that meant 100 miles she was like…um, no thanks! You don’t go from biking once in awhile to completing 100 miles!

When I first started commuting to work, I did part of the route. It ended up being about 11 miles roundtrip to and from work. That was a good starting point. As I got better, as I got more comfortable and more confident on the bike, I tried biking the full route–22 miles roundtrip. It took some time. I’m glad I took it slowly and built my endurance up. This year I didn’t need to do that because I spent all winter in spin class!

Just to give you an example of a few week’s worth of mileage, here is a weekly example:

Week 1 – 10.89 miles

Week 2 -22.18 miles

Week 3 – 36.03 miles

Week 4 – 20.2 miles (spin class)

Week 5 – 44 miles

If you follow some of these tips, I think you’ll be much happier on the bike and your body will thank you!

QUESTION: What are some of your “body aches” after cycling?