“The 2017 Tour de Yorkshire”
Here at the Good Health Centre, all of our osteopaths are pro cyclists, it’s a prerequisite before applying for a job. Not really … but it is true that a few of us are keen cyclists, and we would like to share a few tips with you, to help prevent some of the common injuries that we treat.
Although accidents can occur, we mainly see injuries that are a result of overuse and incorrect posture:
Point of contact injuries
These are the most common complaints from cyclists. We’ll concentrate on the main three; hands, bottom and feet.
- Hands – holding the handlebar in the same position for an extended length of time, gripping it a little too tightly, or leaning too far over the wheel can lead to compression of the ulnar nerve (runs from the little finger up to the elbow and into the upper arm).
Compression causes nerve pain, and the cyclist will typically feel tingling on the outside of the wrist towards the little finger.
To prevent this, our osteopaths suggest moving your hands around the handlebars; it is important not to get stuck in one position. If you start to feel discomfort, you are not altering your position frequently enough and your grip may be too intense. Cycling out of the saddle can also alleviate the pressure.
We also suggest investing in some quality cycling gloves. The padding helps avoid nerve pain, and the grip will also give you greater control over the bike.
- Bottom – friction between your skin, clothing and the saddle can cause sore buttocks and sometimes a rash. Once again, cycling in a more upright position or even out of the saddle can significantly reduce the pressure.
Invest in some good quality padded shorts and go commando!
If you still get sore after trying the above, don’t worry; with practice, your bottom will start accepting the saddle pressure.
- Feet – if you use cleats, ensure they are positioned at the correct angle. It may help avoid knee pain, and can also generate increased power in your pedal stroke. Try and cycle with your heels parallel to the ground, and use the image of a clock face to make sure you are pushing and pulling through all the numbers as your feet go through a whole turn.
Those of you that aren’t Chris Froome, who cycle for enjoyment and to keep fit, may find that your hamstrings, quads and calves can get quite tight. This usually manifests when you’re off your bike. Tightness can lead to muscle tearing, which you certainly want to avoid. A simple method to prevent this is to stretch your calves out properly before you set off, and make sure you cool down after you cycle; stretching helps your muscle elasticity. Start your cycle with a more rapid cadence with least resistance; your muscles will be nicely warmed up prior to increasing your power.
Back and neck pain
Many of us are guilty of having a bad posture, which can result in niggles in our back and neck. Unfortunately, cycling can bring these issues to the fore. Sitting with your back muscles in a neutral position is the ideal method to avoid these pains, but that isn’t always possible if your bike measurements aren’t correct. Get your bike fitted to ensure you have the correct frame size, and that your seat is in the correct position for your body. If your bike is poorly fitted, your knees may be over-extending, which can lead to patella tracking problems and joint swelling, resulting in a burning and stinging sensation.
We don’t mean to patronise but please remember to wear your helmet. Importantly, if you do have a fall, replace the helmet as it will not provide the same protection after it has been damaged.
Our osteopaths can help with all the issues above. They can teach you postural exercises, how to use a foam roller, and appropriate stretching exercises to make you feel fresh and ready for the next ride.