Cycling is one of the most popular exercise activities among people of all ages. Some ride bicycles because it’s a great cardiovascular workout, others for transportation, and some just because they find it therapeutic or relaxing. Though cycling is relatively low-impact compared to other exercises and sports, many cyclists experience pain in the back, neck, knees, and other joints. Luckily, there are a few things every cyclist can do to prevent pain and injury so they can enjoy their rides to the fullest!
- Get a professional bike fit. Even if you don’t cycle very often or only do so for leisure, it’s important to have a bike that fits your body and is properly adjusted for you. Visit a bike shop and have a specialist analyze your body and position on your bicycle. If you’re riding on a frame that is too large, it’s likely you’re overextending your back in order to reach the handlebars. If the frame is too small, your lower body gets pushed forward and you end up in a hunched position. If the saddle is not positioned correctly, the upper body will not be fully supported. All of these things cause cyclists to experience pain and discomfort, especially in the lower back. Getting fitted for a bicycle will ensure you have the right bike for your body and ultimately prevent issues in the future.
- Incorporate stretching into your daily routine. You’ve probably been told this time and time again, but really, stretching is one of the most important injury-prevention measures. Stretching before cycling (or any exercise activity) improves flexibility which allows the joints to move through their full range of motion, thus preventing pain and injury. Try these three stretches, courtesy of StretchCoach.com, proven to be beneficial before going on a bike ride:
- Kneeling Upper Hip & Quad Stretch: Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward.
- Single Heel-drop Achilles Stretch: Stand on a raised object or step and place the ball of one foot on the edge of the step. Bend your knee slightly and let your heel drop towards the ground.
- Lying Knee Roll-over Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.
- Pay attention to posture. Even when you’re not riding your bicycle, it’s important to consider your posture throughout the day, especially if you sit at a desk for a long period of time. Often times, pain believed to come from cycling is actually the result of poor posture during non-exercise activities. Maintaining good posture throughout the day strengthens back muscles and allows for improved, painless cycling.
- Straighten your wrist. The wrist is generally not the first area of concern associated with cycling, but poor positioning can cause chronic wrist pain and even carpal tunnel syndrome. Many cyclists flex the wrists at an angle, causing stress to the tissues and tendons. Simply straightening your wrists when riding allows for proper support and will prevent soreness.
Cycling should be enjoyable, not something to regret afterward. If you experience pain after cycling (or even if you don’t) try these tips for effective, pain-free cycling. When DIY isn’t enough, visit the experts at Fletcher Chiropractic for relief of all your cycling-related conditions!