What to look out for
In order to prevent the most common cycling injuries, it helps to know what they are.
Obviously, in some instances accidents occur and injuries can be serious or sometimes fatal. However, we want to put your mind at rest. The media can portray cycling as a dangerous activity. It is, however far safer than many people think.
The vast proportion of bad accidents are caused by recklessness. Sadly, there will always be thoughtless drivers. But good road sense, and being extra vigilant (especially at junctions) will vastly improve your chances of staying safe.
The fact is, the majority of cycling injuries are overuse injuries. The most affected areas being the knees, ankles, lower back and neck. We look at ways to guard against these more common injuries.
Easy steps to help prevent cycling injuries
Booking a proper bike fit is highly recommended. Having your bike set up in a way that is optimal for your body has numerous advantages. It will improve your power output and make your cycling more efficient. But furthermore, it will make for a smoother ride, and ensure that you are not putting undue pressure on joints.
Cyclists are prone to two injuries, in particular, that can be caused by a poorly set-up bike. These are Patellar tendonitis and Achilles tendonitis. Both can be exacerbated by bikes that are not set up in a way that is right for you.
Another consideration you need to keep in mind is proper hydration. The toll that cycling can take on the body can sometimes be deceptive. You are naturally cooled down by the effects of the outside air. As such, you may be unaware of how much you are sweating.
This fluid loss can be problematic. In some instances, it can cause cramps. But almost certainly, it will mean you fatigue more quickly and lose your natural rhythm on the bike. It pays to learn more about proper hydration. And in addition, if your clothes feel particularly salty after you ride, you probably need to take on board extra electrolytes.
Other aids in preventing cycling injuries
It might not be something you have considered before, but regular sports massage can help prevent injury. It will help in a number of ways.
Improved circulation will help provide oxygen and nutrients to fatigued muscles that help them replenish. Releasing and relaxing muscles that are typically shortened will help keep the body more balanced and aligned. The hip flexors and neck muscles, for example, can be severely compromised in the cycling pose. And in addition, massage will keep you more mobile and alert.
There are some common sense guidelines that you must keep to as well. The body needs to warm-up properly, and be allowed to cool down sufficiently to guard against injury. We have written about the importance of these two stages before. But as a bare minimum, you should start and finish your rides at a more sedate pace, and certainly in the lower gears.