Le Tour De France
Cycling to Success with an injury free Summer
With the Tour De France underway, people around the country will be dusting off their Lycra and helmets to finally get out onto the open road after a long winter break. In this blog we will talk about some of the common injuries associated with cycling and how physiotherapy can aid in you winning your own yellow jersey.
Cycling regularly brings enormous and varied benefits for your health at all ages, whether riding for recreation, as a serious competitor, or racing to win the Tour de France. Physiotherapists can use their knowledge and expertise to provide guidance on cycling posture and the setup of your bike to ensure you enjoy those benefits in a pain-free way.
As with any sport there are common injuries that you may incur from cycling. These fall into two categories
- Overuse Injuries
- Traumatic injuries (Falls)
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 then this can put unwanted strain on structures such as neck, lower back, mid thoracic and put unwanted stress on the hamstrings and nerves of the lower limbs.
How can you prevent overuse cycling injuries?
Posture plays an important role in cycling as poor posture is undoubtedly the most common reason for neck pain in cycling, and the strains placed on the neck whilst it is in the wrong position can build up gradually over time, becoming a habitual posture long before you feel any pain. Unless you are aware of how to correct this, or indeed are even aware that this may be the cause, it is difficult to address, and so continues to cause you pain. Also, if you have a desk-based job, your poor neck and spinal posture may continue on into your working day, even when you are not on your bike.
Stretching is an essential part of successful cycling. A good stretching routine can help to minimize muscle imbalances, prevent injury and improve your cycling performance. The following stretching program is designed for cyclists who do not have any current injuries or individual stretching needs. If you have an injury, or a specific mechanical imbalance that may be holding back your cycling performance, the physiotherapists at Physiotherapy Matters can design a stretching program just for you.
When is the Best Time to Stretch?
When your muscles are warm and relaxed! If you take your performance seriously, stretch after your 5-10 minute warm up (low intensity cycling) and after you cycle. If you are more of a leisurely cyclist you may prefer to stretch when you stop for a break rather than after your warm-up, especially during longer cycling trips, then stretch again after cycling.
5 Lower Limb Stretches
- Calf Stretch (Gastrocnemius) – Both hands on a wall, one foot behind the other, bend the front knee and keep the back leg straight.
- 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.
- Hamstring Stretch – Bend one leg and with the other leg place it out straight. Place your hands on the bent Knee and lean forward.
- Hip Flexor Stretch – Place one knee bent at 90 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.
- ITB Stretch – Lean your shoulder against a wall. Cross the leg closest to the wall behind you, then lean hips towards the wall.
5 Upper Limb Stretches
- Wrist Flexor Stretch – Hold arms out straight and grab all the fingers on one hand and pull back and hold.
- Shoulder and Scapular stretch. Place hands on hips and squeeze your shoulders backwards and hold.
- Mid Thoracic Stretch – Hold both hands out in front and clasp both hands. Turn side to side with your hands clasped and repeat both side
- Tricep Stretch – Place once hand across your chest and place the other hand on that elbow and gently push.
- Neck rotations– Turn your head to look over each shoulder but keeping your shoulders still. Try and look in the corner of the room with your eyes for an extra stretch.
Happy & healthy cycling