Three Common Cycling Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Holowesko Citadel cyclist

Written by David Jolson, Greenville chiropractor and clinic director at Upstate Spine & Sport. Dr. Jolson is team chiropractor for the Hincapie Racing Team, Greenville Drive, and local PGA Tour Pros.

No one wants to be forced off the bike due to an injury, but unfortunately cyclists face risks aside from high-velocity crashes, including several musculoskeletal injuries such as pain in the lower back, knees and neck.

So what can you do to prevent these injuries?

Posture control, core strengthening and breathing techniques: How to beat lower back pain

Many cyclists experience back pain after spending hours flexed over handlebars. On top of that, most of us have jobs that require sitting at a desk in front of a computer, making lower back pain one of the most common injuries cyclists suffer.

Back pain can lead to a whole other set of issues due to altered biomechanics, which can lead to strained muscles, piriformis syndrome, and sciatica symptoms.

How to prevent it: It’s important to problem-solve your condition to decrease pain quickly and prevent reoccurrence. Key things to analyze are:

Position on the bike: Is your saddle the right height? One that’s too low or high can aggravate low back pain. Be sure the rest of the bike’s anatomy fits you so your spine is as neutral as possible and not excessively rounded.

Position off the bike: If you work at a desk, think about your posture. It’s worth investing in a Mckenzie roll (a cylindrical pillow that supports your lower back and helps maintain good posture). Be careful of other flexed positions throughout your day: driving, picking up children (or any weight) with a rounded back, or sitting slumped on a comfortable couch.

Core strength & breathing: If your core muscles are not strong enough and working together, your lower back musculature and spinal anatomy will not be happy. Working on your core strength and breathing not only will protect your lower back, but also will make you a more powerful rider, as your legs will push the pedals from a more stable base.

Assessing root causes, treating the symptoms and strengthening the surrounding muscles: Overcoming cycle-related knee pain

Many take up cycling to ease pain in their knees since the sport is considered “low impact.” Cycling doesn’t always entirely relieve this pain, however, and faulty mechanics or bike fit can make knee pain worse. Common knee problems include: patellofemoral joint syndrome, IT band syndrome, bursitis, or meniscus issues.

How to prevent it:

Treating the knee first involves addressing the “what” (i.e. what’s causing the knee pain itself). This includes stretching, kinesio taping, foam rolling, and the use of ice or anti-inflammatories to help calm it down. Once it’s calmed down, it is imperative to figure out the “why” and get to the bottom of the problem.

Knee pain often stems from a bike fit issue. If this is the case