How to prevent the most common cycling injuries

With Argus just around the corner, and more and more people opting for 2 wheels to exercise on and enjoy the outdoors, I have seen many patients complaining of pain while cycling.

With this in mind I thought it a good idea to give you a quick guide on how to prevent some of the common injuries that cyclists sustain.

KNEE PAIN
So often patients who have been cycling for a short period come in to the practice complaining of pain on the front of the knee. Usually the simple explanation for this, is bike setup. If your saddle is too low or too high, even by a few millimeters, it will place strain on your knee joint, and with the repetitive action the joint will become inflamed.
Another reason for this is that your legs and butt are just not strong enough and the muscles are not firing properly.
* How to rectify this?
* Firstly get your bike setup done by a professional, although this might seem like an expense to you, it will save you a lot of money in the long run. I use the guys at Cyclefit, they are both professional riders and have an amazing setup there. Check them out at www.cyclefit.co.za
* If your setup is correct then see your physio for some treatment, and a strengthening program. These exercise, no matter how mundane they may seem, need to be done on a daily basis to keep you strong and injury free.
* If you are riding a lot, it is always a good to have maintenance physio as well as weekly sports massages to keep you in top shape.

SADDLE SORES
Even though this is not a physio injury, it is something that happens very often in both males and females. The biggest cause for saddle sores are long hours in the saddle, a bad shammy and to little butt butter.
Many newbies, especially the ladies, make the mistake of wearing underwear under their riding shorts. This is the biggest mistake you can make. I know the commando look isn’t for everyone, but if you want to save your bottom, lose the knickers. The extra material, causes bunching and friction, especially as the hours in the saddle increase and you sweat.
Instead of undies, stock up on some good anti chafe cream, and apply it to the nether regions and your shammy. I use good old Bennetts baby bum cream and that definitely stops any chafing which can lead to blistering.
And lets be honest, no one cares if you have no knickers on, but you will be a lot more embarrassed when you have to go to the ER and show them a bottom with a blister on.

LOW BACK PAIN
As for knee pain, your bike fit will save your bike. However in saying this, you cannot rely on the bike solely. You have to incorporate a good core strengthening program to keep your back strong.
See your physio and chat to them about a program to incorporate both core and lower leg strength, as well as upper body, as cycling is a whole body workout.

NECK PAIN
Again it all boils down to your bike setup. If your stem is too high or low, or your seat is too far back or forward, you could be overreaching and placing unnecessary strain on your upper trapezius and then get pain into your shoulders and neck and even get headaches.
Roadies get more neck pain because of the position that they are in and the bike geometry.
MTB mainly get pain because of the terrain and also because of tensing up on areas where they may not feel that confident.
Get your physio to check you out and treat the neck, and incorporate a good stretching routine going.
If you are new at MTB then do a skills course, and learn the basics and practice them as often as possible. Have a look at www.overthebars.co.za and www.treadmtbskills.co.za for some great courses across the country.

Remember there are 3 types of cyclists: the ones who have fallen, the ones who are going to fall, and of course those who will fall again and again.

Happy cycling to all of you!