Like any endurance sport, cycling can come with its fair share of overuse injuries. There are a variety of pesky ailments that can plague dedicated cyclists and quickly interrupt — or end — an otherwise fruitful training cycle.
Here is how to approach and manage five of the most frequent cycling ailments.
Tendonitis of any body part is never fun, as the inflammation can be incredibly painful and stubborn with movement, but the achilles tendon is arguably one of the worst spots to develop the injury — especially in cycling. Each pedaling motion and dorsal flex is contingent on a healthy achilles, and pain in this area can quickly take a cyclist out of commission. Like most forms of tendonitis, achilles tendonitis can be avoided by preventing overtraining, stretching the area properly, and taking time off at the onset of any noteworthy pain. If the injury has already developed, the R.I.C.E method is your best bet (in other words, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Additionally, give yourself ample recovery time to allow all the inflammation to fade.
The neck may not be a first consideration when listing areas of potential cycling injuries, but the reality is that neck pain plagues countless riders on a regular basis. Typically, this issue stems from poor head position and even poorer riding posture. The best rule of thumb is to keep your chin tucked, make a 90 degree angle between your shoulders and upper arms, and engage the muscles in your neck while looking up. Maintain this position and you should be able to solve your neck problems moving forward.
Cycling-related groin pain is not exactly surprising, for obvious reasons, but it is also fairly easy to fix. In almost all cases, the pain is likely coming from a poorly shaped or positioned saddle. It is important that you find a saddle that fits your body type perfectly, all while making sure it is properly installed onto your bike. Even a well-fitted saddle will create problems if it is not positioned correctly.
Given the basic biomechanics of cycling, it is also not surprising that many cyclists deal with nagging knee pain. The issue is arguably the most prominent in the sport, but it can be avoided with proper footwear, foot positioning, and proper foresight in terms of overuse and overtraining. If you are already experiencing knee pain, in addition to mending the aforementioned factors, take a few days to let your patellas recovery; they are potentially delicate parts of your body that will need to be strengthened and properly healed to avoid long-term problems.