How To Prevent The Most Common Cycling Injuries
Riding your bike is a great way to stay in shape and help reduce your impact on the environment. But even the best activities have their downsides, and unfortunately for cyclists, riding your bike will most likely mean eventually encountering cycling injuries if you ride consistently.
Cycling injuries can range from minor annoyances to major health scares, depending on the cause. While every injury is different, some of the most common cycling injuries can be prevented with a little bit of preparation. Follow these steps to make sure you can prevent the most common cycling injuries.
Make sure your bike fits your body
One of the easiest ways to hurt yourself on your bike is simply by riding a bike that doesn’t perfectly fit your body. This one doesn’t often immediately present itself as an issue — in fact, lots of people are riding a bike that doesn’t fit their body exactly right. However, the subtle stress and strain this causes on your body can slowly cause damage that really hurts.
The most important places to adjust and get a good fit are on your bike seat and handlebars. Your bike seat height will control how far your legs have to extend in order to do a complete cycle of the pedals; the angle of the seat will determine the angle of your back and stretch of your arms towards the handlebars.
As a rule of thumb, you know you need to make adjustments whenever you feel your body straining to sit comfortably. If you have to hyperextend your leg to pedal or stretch your back to reach the handlebars, make a change. Even if it feels just a little bit uncomfortable, that minor discomfort will likely compound over time into a bigger problem.
If you aren’t sure you’ve got a perfect fit (it can be hard to tell!), stop by a local bike shop and have a professional help you; it should take only a few minutes and will save you from months or years of pain.
Wear a helmet and protective gear
Most of the injured cyclists we work with have been hit by cars, which often results in serious injuries that basic protective gear can’t prevent. But cyclists fall off their bikes every day in more minor incidents, and basic protective gear can keep a minor fall from turning into a major injury.
Whether you skidded on wet pavement or you hit a rocky road that sent you flying, if you hit the ground falling off your bike, you are at risk for scrapes, cuts, and impact injuries.
Wearing durable clothing can help cushion your fall and keep your skin safe from contact with the pavement, and wearing a helmet will protect your brain if your head hits anything on the way down. Keeping your brain safe is of the utmost importance, so even if you wear no other kind of protective gear, you should always wear a helmet. (In fact, in many states, wearing a helmet is the law.)
Stretch and do alternative exercises
If your primary form of exercise is riding your bike, you are at risk for a number of repetitive motion injuries and muscle strains.
Bike riding involves a lot of repetitive motion, especially for your legs, including patellar tendonitis and achilles tendonitis. Even if you have great form (but especially if your bike isn’t perfectly fitted to you), simply moving your legs in the same movement so many times can cause inflammation that really hurts.
To help counteract these repetitive injuries, ice your joints after a ride if they feel sore at all. In addition, stretching before a ride will help ensure your joints and muscles are working easily when you’re on the bike, which will help prevent inflammation.
Spending time every week doing exercises that will strengthen your core is also a good idea, since a strong core will help support your posture when you ride. Taking up yoga or pilates, or even just incorporating sit-ups into your regular workout, can help reduce strain during your everyday rides.
Stay healthy and call Bay Area Bicycle Law if you’ve had cycling injuries
We hope every cyclist will make their own safety a priority when riding their bikes. Occasionally, though, some injuries cannot be prevented. If you have been injured by a driver while riding your bike, you can call Bay Area Bicycle Law for help and answers from an expert bicycle injury attorney. To speak with an experienced bicycle law attorney today — free, confidential, and no obligation — call 415-466-8717.