Le Tour De France

injury free cycling

June 14, 2023

Updated 14th June 2023

How to enjoy injury free cycling this Summer

With the 2023 Tour De France fast approaching and providing some motivation and inspiration to get out on our bikes, it’s important to understand how to gradually build up activity, reduce the risk of injury and enjoy injury free cycling in the summer months. In this blog we will talk about some of the common injuries associated with cycling and how physiotherapy can help.

Cycling regularly brings enormous and varied benefits for your health at all ages, whether riding for recreation or as a serious competitor. As with any sport however, there are common injuries, usually overuse injuries, that you may incur from cycling.

Overuse injuries most commonly include; 

  • Knee Pain
  • Hand Numbness/Ulnar Neuropathy
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
  • Low Back Pain

Why do overuse cycling injuries occur?

Cycling is a highly repetitive sport – an average cyclist might perform well over 5,000 revolutions an hour so it is quite understandable how small problems can become bigger issues over time. The position you sit in on a bike can be incredibly important, especially when viewed in the context of cycling being so highly repetitive. If you have this wrong from the outset, this can can put strain on structures such as the neck and back, and affect biomechanics of the lower limb, potentially increasing the risk of overuse knee or hip injuries such as ITB pain or piriformis pain.

Overuse injuries often come on due to a sudden increase in activity. If you haven’t cycled through the winter, and are keen to get out in the summer, the distance and frequency of cycling should be gradually built up, in order for your body to adapt to the new exercise and build up a tolerance to it.

How can you prevent overuse cycling injuries?

Posture and biomechanics on the bike play an important role in cycling. The first step would be to get a good bike fit done professionally, to ensure you bike is set up in the optimal position for you. As mentioned above, a gradual build up into cycling, slowly building up your distance and intensity, is key to preventing overuse injuries.

A stretching and mobility routine can be very beneficial for cyclists, due to the prolonged static postures in a flexed position. Due to being in this position, often for hours, certain structures such as the hip flexors and quads, and neck/upper back, can get very tight and cause some discomfort. Stretching out these structures may help to alleviate some of this tightness.   

When is the Best Time to Stretch?

When your muscles are warm and relaxed!  It is best to perform static stretches (such as the ones below) after you have been out on the bike, or on different days as part of your strength and mobility routine. Here are some examples of static stretches to perform after cycling.

5 Lower Limb Stretches

  1. Calf Stretch (Gastrocnemius) – Both hands on a wall, one foot behind the other, bend the front knee and keep the back leg straight.
  2. Quadriceps Stretch – Stand up straight. Bend one leg so you heel moves towards your bum. Hold the ankle of the bent leg and push your hips forward.
  3. Hamstring Stretch – Bend one leg and with the other leg place it out straight. Place your hands on the bent knee and lean forward.
  4. Hip Flexor Stretch – Place one knee bent at 90 degrees on the floor and place the other leg at 90 degrees with the front foot on the floor. This resembles a lunge position. Lean forward and place both hands on the front knee.
  5. ITB Stretch – Lean your shoulder against a wall. Cross the leg closest to the wall behind you, then lean hips towards the wall.

Prior to going out on the bike, you may benefit from a dynamic warm up, to prepare your muscles for the activity. This could include movements such as walking lunges, high knees and leg swings.

Alongside a mobility routine, doing a regular strengthening programme can help to improve cycling efficiency, performance, and reduce injury risk. Strengthening, particularly for the lower limb, is beneficial in cycling to improve the capacity of the muscles and tendons to tolerate high levels of stress and repetition.  A good strengthening programme should consist of working the major muscle groups and compound movements, such as squats, split squats or lunges, deadlifts and single leg/balance exercises, and should be performed 2-3 times per week to compliment your cycling.

If you have an injury, or feel tightness in one area, it may be that there is a specific area of weakness or muscular imbalance that needs working on. If this is the case, you may find a physiotherapy session helpful to identify the area of weakness and assess your biomechanics further, so that a strengthening exercise programme can be tailored to you and your goals. Your physiotherapist can also help to guide you through a cycling programme, in order to gradually build up how much you are doing, to ensure injury risk is reduced.


If you would like further advice from one of our physios, feel free to get in touch by emailing info@physiotherapymatters.co.uk or calling 0191 285 8701.

No matter whether your condition was caused by a sport, work accident or otherwise, we welcome the chance to serve you.

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