Now we're back in clinic after the lockdown, we're seeing an emerging trend where people have tried new activities and sadly picked up injuries along the way. One of the common ones we've seen are relating to cycling, so we thought we'd talk about some tips on how to set up your bike to help reduce strain on your body.
Before we start, it's worth talking about bike fit here. If you're new to cycling and are enjoying it, hopefully wanting to do more, it's worth going to a specialist cycling store and asking them about a bite fit consultation. They may seem expensive initially, but by assessing your body's ergonomics and postures and setting your cycle up for your own quirks, you can save yourself a lot of pain and misery in the long run by preventing injuries. It really is a case of "prevention is better than cure", and whilst you think this is counterproductive to our business, your well-being is our ultimate priority, we want to help you stop being injured!
So, let's look at the most common injuries we've seen in clinic and how some super simple adjustments can stop them in their tracks! We'll start at the top…
Headaches / Neck Strain & Pain
This is a really common issue, especially if you ride a racer style road bike. Pain in this region is caused by over extension of the neck to look up whilst arching forward to reach the handlebars. Prolonged periods of time in this pattern will result in muscle strain and joint pain, which in turn can cause shooting pain across your neck, down into your shoulder blades, upper back and sometimes arms. This type of pattern can also give rise to headaches.
Quick tips to help:
– Adjust the height of your handlebars to avoid arching forward.
– Stretch before long journeys: We'd be happy to discuss this with you if you're struggling.
– Schedule in some pit stops on your journey: don't cycle through the pain, get off and stretch!
– Don't cycle for longer than you have to or consider temporarily reducing distance/time whilst seeking help for your pain.
Lower Back Pain
Prolonged pressure on your discs and joints in the lower back will quickly lead to a very painful cycling experience, and this is often a result of that arching forwards we talked about above. Measures for prevention are pretty much the same regardless of whether you have a mountain bike or road bike:
– Adjust the height of your handlebars, seek professional advice if struggling.
– Stretch and warm up before cycling. Consider exercises that use patterns of movement in a different plane to cycling, i.e. bending sideways and extending backwards.
– Adjust your seat height if more appropriate than your handlebars. Seat height should roughly be measured by placing your heel on the pedal at its lowest position and aiming to have a straight leg.
Pain in the knees can sometimes present itself the more quickly than back pain, yet often is the easiest thing to prevent simply by changing the height of your saddle. The only caveat is whilst it sounds simple, sometimes by changing your saddle height it can disrupt your posture reaching for your handlebars! This is often why it's best to see a bike fit specialist to fine tune your bike to your individual needs.
As always, if you've been cycling regularly and need some help, do come and see us and we'll help to reduce your pain and get you back out on the trail again enjoying the summer as much as possible.