Man bent over rubbing knee in pain

11 Common Cycling Injuries You Should Know About & How to Avoid Them

No one can deny cycling is a popular sport. People all over the world have a passion for hopping on their bikes.

It's simple enough that beginners can get started with it but challenging enough to keep people cycling for years.

However, if you've been cycling for any length of time, you may have experienced a cycling injury or know someone who has.

To help make your rides safe and enjoyable, it's important to understand the potential risks of cycling and how to minimize the likelihood of getting hurt. That's why I've put together this article on 11 of the most common cycling injuries and how to avoid them.

Let's dive in!

Causes of Common Cycling Injuries

Before we talk about common cycling injuries and how to avoid them, it's important to understand what causes cycling injuries. Prevention starts with understanding how most cyclists get hurt.

Most cycling injuries are caused by 3 things: accidents or crashes, bad posture or technique, and overuse. Let's talk a little bit more about how each of these can lead to common cycling injuries.

Cycling accidents

When most people think of cycling injuries, they probably think about injuries that are caused by cycling accidents. One of the joys of cycling is racing down the road at high speeds and feeling the wind rushing past you.

And a lot of cyclists train to get stronger and therefore faster. But all that speed can cause some fairly significant injuries if you happen to crash or fall off your bike.

Crashes are frequently caused by vehicles on the road, low visibility, hazards or debris, or equipment failure.

Crashes and cycling accidents are usually responsible for injuries like broken bones and head trauma.

Bad posture or technique

The next frequent cause of cycling injuries is bad posture or technique. If you're sitting on the bike and pedaling for several hours in an awkward position, it's only natural that you'll start to feel pain in certain parts of your body.

This is especially common for cyclists who are new to the sport and don't have proper technique or posture yet. Over time, this can lead to some common cycling injuries like back, neck, and knee pain.

Overuse

Finally, common cycling injuries can be caused by overusing a certain part of the body. Since cycling is often done for long periods of time, your muscles are put under a great deal of strain and hours of repetitive motions.

This can lead to common cycling injuries like knee and ankle pain or tendonitis.

What are the most common injuries in cycling?

Now that we understand what causes most cycling injuries, let's talk about what they are, so you know what to watch out for.

1.) Broken bones

One of the most common cycling injuries is broken bones. These are typically caused by crashing and falling off the bike.

And to make matters worse, it's not uncommon for cyclists to break more than one bone when they fall. Here are some common bones that get broken from bicycle accidents:

  • clavicle
  • leg
  • hip
  • ribs
  • scaphoid (A bone in the hand.)

The clavicle, or collarbone, is probably the most common cycling fracture due to cyclists putting their hands out toward the ground to catch themselves as they fall off the bike.

2.) Head injuries

Another common cycling injury are head injuries. Since cyclists are often going at high speeds, a crash can be especially dangerous for their heads and necks.

To reduce the risk of head injuries it's important to always wear protective gear when you ride. I can’t stress this enough – wear a helmet!

3.) Torn rotator cuff

Torn rotator cuffs are common cycling injuries that can occur when a cyclist impacts the ground during a crash. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons in your shoulder that help move and stabilize the shoulder joint.

If you fall off your bike and try to catch yourself, it can put a lot of strain on the rotator cuff. This can lead to tears or sprains in the muscle, which can be very painful.

4.) Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is common among cyclists due to the repetitive strain of pedaling. It's a condition where the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, which causes pain in the calf and heel area.

This can lead to difficulty walking, running, and cycling. To help prevent Achilles tendonitis, it's important to make sure your seat is in the right position.

You want to be sure that you're sitting at a height that ensures a flat pedal stroke while riding.

If I ever need relief, I simply apply some of the Rouse Fit Extreme Relief CBD cream 5,000 mg. I apply some before and after my rides and it works wonders.

5.) Road rash

Another common injury caused by crashes on the bike is road rash. Road rash is a common term for skin abrasions caused by sliding on the ground after a crash.

Road rash can range from mild to severe, depending on how fast you were going when you crashed and how much protection you were wearing.

Always keep a good supply of Neosporin on hand. Applying this to road rash to keep it moist will make the healing process happen a lot faster.

6.) Lower back pain

A common cycling injury caused by overuse or bad posture on the bike is lower back pain. Sitting hunched over on the back for hours at a time can cause your muscles to become strained, leading to pain in the lower back area.

To prevent this, make sure that you have a properly-fitted bike so that your posture is correct when riding.

If I ever need relief, I simply apply some of the Rouse Fit Extreme Relief CBD cream 5,000 mg. I apply some before and after my rides and it works wonders.

7.) Knee Pain

Another common overuse injury for cyclists is knee pain. Knee pain often presents itself in either the front of the knee or the back of the knee.

According to Alice Monger-Godfrey, an ex-pro rider and osteopath, pain in the front of the knee is caused by "tightness in the quads or the fibrous tissue that runs alongside the outer leg – the Iliotibial band – pulling on the patella (knee cap)."

This is often caused by a poor bike fit or overuse of the muscles.

Jimmy George of V02, a bike fitter and coach, states that pain in the back of the knee is often caused by "overextension – if the saddle is too high the muscles get very tight and the knee can't cope with that degree of flexation. It’s basically overload. The hamstrings are being pulled and you’ll get pain in the hamstring and where the muscle inserts around the knee."

This is another problem caused by not having your bike properly fitted. Something else that I’ve used in the past is kinesiology sports tape. There are several videos on YouTube to teach you how to property tape your own knees. My favorite tape is precut strips from Theraband

8.) Pain in your hands

The next common cycling injury you should watch out for is pain in your hands. Pain in the hands, also called 'handlebar palsy', is caused by grabbing the handlebars for long periods of time while riding.

The Blackberry Clinic notes that this injury is caused by "compression of the ulnar nerve at the wrist, against the handlebar. It is also due to hyperextension of the wrist and nerve, sustaining a poor position for prolonged periods of time."

To help avoid this problem make sure your bike is fitted properly and that you aren't putting too much weight into your hands rather than the saddle. You can also try wearing gel-padded gloves and relaxing your hands on the handlebars and rotating your hands to different positions on the handlebars throughout the ride.

My favorite gloves are the Giro Monaco II gloves.

9.) Saddle sores

A common injury in cycling caused by overuse is saddle sores. Saddle sores are caused by friction between the saddle and your skin, which can lead to irritation or even open wounds.

To help prevent this common cycling injury make sure that you are using the right saddle, wearing well-cushioned cycling shorts, you wash your shorts well between rides, and you can also use anti-chafe chamois cream.  I personally use Chamois Butt’r.

10.) Hot foot

The next cycling injury you'll want to watch out for is hot foot. Coach Fred Matheny from Road Bike Rider describes hot foot as swelling during long rides. "This increases pressure inside the shoes, which, in turn, compresses nerves. The result is a burning sensation in the ball of the foot and tingling or numb toes."

To avoid it you'll want to:

  • Avoid snug-fitting shoes.
  • Use a dome to spread the metatarsal bones in your foot.
  • Move your cleats rearward to reduce direct pressure on the ball of the foot.
  • Loosen the lower straps on the pedal.
  • Wear thinner socks.
  • Use a higher quality shoe with less bend in it (high quality carbon is a good choice).

11.) Neck pain

Last on our list of common cycling injuries is neck pain. Neck pain, like lower back pain, is often caused by poor posture while cycling.

To help avoid it, make sure to keep your head up and your back straight when riding. Also, make sure that you have a properly-fitted bike to help support your posture as well.

If I ever need relief, I simply apply some of the Rouse Fit Extreme Relief CBD cream 5,000 mg. I apply some before and after my rides and it works wonders.

How can common cycling injuries be prevented?

Now that we've talked about the top 11 common cycling injuries, here are some general tips on how to prevent them.

If your pain is caused by crashes

Cycling injuries caused by bike crashes are probably the most painful. Here are some tips for how to prevent them.

Learn to fall properly

The first thing you'll want to do is learn how to fall properly. Richard Gasperotti, a four-time Red Bull Rampage participant, recommends:

  • If possible try to steer to a safer spot to land. (As in the grass vs the road, etc.)
  • Try not to catch yourself with your hands.
  • Tuck your chin and try to roll through the impact.

Avoid overtraining

The next thing you want to do is avoid overtraining. It's tempting to push yourself as you work to improve your performance, but getting overly tired on the bike isn't just ill-advised, it can be dangerous.

Especially if you find yourself getting dehydrated or light-headed while riding. This can cause you to make dangerous mistakes, like not paying attention to your surroundings and crashing.

Make sure you're adequately hydrated and well-nourished before a ride. Listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard.

Be aware of other riders

Lastly, it's important to be aware of other riders. While you can't always anticipate what another cyclist is going to do, being alert and expecting the unexpected is key to staying safe when on the bike.

Follow common sense biking rules like riding in a straight line, not weaving between vehicles or pedestrians, and signaling turns ahead of time.

If your pain is caused by poor posture

Although cycling injuries caused by poor posture can be painful, they're actually pretty simple to avoid. Here are some tips for how to maintain proper posture on the bike:

  • Use a properly-fitted bicycle. A good bike fit will ensure your body is in the correct position while riding.
  • Ensure that you have good flexibility and core strength. If your muscles are weak, it will be hard to maintain good posture.
  • Check your positioning on the bike. Make sure that your back is straight and you're looking ahead.
  • Take regular breaks. If you find yourself slouching, take a break to stretch out and reset your posture.

If your pain is caused by overuse

If you find that your injuries are caused by overuse and too many hours on the bike, here are some tips that will help:

  • Stretch regularly. Stretching helps keep muscles loose and relieve tension.
  • Do strength training exercises to build up your muscles and prevent fatigue.
  • Take enough rest days. This will help reduce the strain on your body.
  • Get a massage or use a foam roller to relieve muscle tightness and improve circulation.
  • Make sure you're wearing the right gear. Proper clothes like bike shorts and riding gloves can help cushion your body and make riding more comfortable.
  • Ease into a riding routine. Starting too much too fast can put too much strain on your body and can lead to injuries.
  • Change positions on the bike occasionally while riding.

Conclusion to 11 Common Cycling Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Now that you know the most common cycling injuries and how to avoid them you can be as safe as possible as you hit the road. If you find yourself suffering from one of these injuries, be sure to address them and don't just ignore them.

What starts as a minor problem could become a real issue that leaves you sidelined for weeks as you heal.

You're better off taking a few precautions ahead of time so you can ride safely and confidently no matter where the road takes you.

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