With the weather getting warmer people are starting to take their workouts outdoors to take in the fresh air. Cycling is a great activity to enjoy the outdoors and get in some exercise. Generally cycling is not associated with many injuries or health effects. However sometimes after cycling for extended periods of time cyclists can develop various muscle and joint problems. The best way to prevent major injuries while cycling is to always wear a helmet. To prevent the less severe muscle and joint problems try properly stretching before and after cycling. Here are some common injuries with tips and stretches to help prevent them:
Achilles tendinitis: Typically caused from overuse, taking a break from your workout or properly stretching can help alleviate pain caused by Achilles tendinitis. To prevent this do hamstring stretches before and after your workout. Placing one foot behind you with both heels flat on the ground while leaning against a wall can help stretch the Achilles tendon and prevent this type of injury from occurring.
Cartilage degeneration: Riding incorrectly can cause the cartilage behind the kneecap to start to deteriorate. Having your seat too high can cause this area to be overextended and overused. To prevent this injury make sure you are using the correct gears when riding and that the seat is at a proper height.
Muscle strains: Usually occurring in the hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back stretching is the best way to stop this injury before it happens. To stretch your hamstrings, extend one leg in front while leaning forward in an to attempt touch your toes. Lying flat on your back while bringing your knees to your chest can help to stretch out your back. Also, to stretch your back, try standing with your hands on your hips and bending backwards at the waist as far as you can go comfortably. In order to stretch your quadriceps stand on your left foot while supporting yourself against a wall with your right hand. Bend your right knee and grab the foot with your left hand. Bring the foot towards your buttocks and hold for ten seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
Numbness in the hands: This injury is often caused by excessive pressure on the nerves in the hands from putting your weight on the handlebars. To decrease this numbness wear padded gloves or try to shift the pressure between both your hands throughout your ride.
To remain comfortable during your exercise change your position frequently during your ride and sit up straight periodically to give your back a rest. By remembering these tips and executing the exercises both before and after you cycle you should be able to prevent any cycling injuries and enjoy the fresh air. A trained physical therapist will be able to tailor a cycling program to fit you and give you even more tips for healthy cycling.