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?

Rise and Shine Commute


It was kinda early to get up on a Monday. Oooof. Good morning alarm! Since I was leaving right from the house I had very little time to dilly-dally. Thankfully Michael helped me out by making breakfast while I showered.

It was a weird temperature Monday morning. Kind of brisk but not cold. There was a 10% chance of rain and it was cloudy. I’ve lost one of my arm warmers so I had to wear my cycling jacket. I set out on my route. I realized that I could take a few short cuts to shorten my route and avoid a big hill but I decided against it. The hill is good practice. I biked about 4 miles before stopping to take off my jacket.

I biked through Sellwood. I really my route. It’s a decent length, mostly flat but with a few hills to keep it interesting. It was a lonely ride Monday morning. There weren’t many people out. Maybe they had a hard time getting out of bed too.


Once I got to the Eastside Esplande I hit the 10% chance of rain. I started to feel some drops, but just a few.


I crossed the Steel Bridge, which was practically empty.


I got to the office in no time at all. It was a decent ride for a Monday morning when I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep!


It took me the exact amount of time as last time I rode from the house to work. One hour!


Morning Stats:
Time: 59 minutes
Calories Burned: 413
Distance: 12 miles

I’m glad I had the forethought last week to bring a change of clothes to work!

AFTERNOON COMMUTE

I love that Portland is doing such a good job making bike lanes throughout the city. They are everywhere, painted neon green, and just for bikes.


I set out in the afternoon to bike home. For my pre-ride snack I ate some vanilla Greek yogurt and crossed my fingers that it would hold me for the ride home.


It was warmer than the morning ride. And the clouds had cleared up nicely, which was good because it rained a few times during the day. I made it out of downtown with no issues. I was a bit sore sitting on the bike seat from the morning ride–which surprised me. More on that later.

It felt like I was biking into a wind tunnel the entire bike ride home. It was difficult and I felt slow. I got to Sellwood and the wind changed so it wasn’t affecting my ride as much. I stopped at an intersection, intending on going straight through after checking both ways when a cyclist behind me decided to pass me on my left and then TURN RIGHT. Really dude? He totally cut me off for no reason. It was awkward and weird. I biked through Sellwood and downtown Milwaukie with no issues. All the hills I tackled were a breeze.

Remember that short cut I talked about? I ended up taking it on the way home. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t ideal. I was in the right lane crossing a busy intersection on the highway and needed to go straight but I couldn’t safely merge into the traffic without coming to a stop and waiting, or doing something unsafe and stupid. So I chose to turn right and take the shortcut through a big parking lot. I hated taking the shortcut. I missed out on a decent hill and it cut off 5 minutes from my commute. I immediately felt dirty. Like I was cheating on my bike commute. Weird, I know. I just felt disappointed that I took a short cut.

The rest of the ride home was quick and easy.

Afternoon Stats:
Time: 54 minutes
Calories Burned: 397
Distance: 12.01

Total Distance: 24 miles 

When I walked in the door I saw Michael making me a chocolate milk recovery drink! Aw! He’s such a thoughtful guy.


Then he helped me with my bike seat. We’d both noticed that the bike seat was too high in the front, at an angle. I think that was the cause of my discomfort and saddle soreness. Michael sweetly fiddled with it and had me test ride it a few times and make the necessary changes. We finally got it right! It feels much better. I hope that also helps with any back discomfort I might have on the bike too. But my poor sweetie, he bumped into my bike chain as he was fixing the seat and cut himself pretty badly. 🙁

It was a pretty deep gash! Be careful: bike chains and spokes are freakin’ sharp. 🙁 Check back this afternoon for the yummy recipe we made for dinner, too!

QUESTION: Do you take short cuts in your workouts or healthy living?