Common Cycling Injuries: Prevention and Treatment
It might surprise you to know that more people in London cycle than go to the gym.
Of those cycling in London, half do so as part of their commute and half for fitness and leisure. With this many people in our glorious city of London cycling, it stands to reason that the city also sees its share of cycling-related injuries.
At Brixton Therapy Centre we support cyclists to recover and heal from cycling-related pain and injuries sustained from accidents AND from the action of cycling itself. We can also help prevent some of these problems in the first place as well as boost performance in case your cycling goes beyond fitness and leisure and into the realms of competitive cycling!
This article looks at some of the most common injuries and pain experienced by cyclists and provides prevention tips. It also explains what our team of osteopaths do at our therapy centre in the heart of South West London to treat injuries, relieve pain and improve cycling performance.
Common Cycling-Related Injuries
This can include ‘cyclist’s knee’ also known as ‘runner’s knee’. Patellofemoral syndrome, thought to be caused by stress on the joint commonly from misalignment, tendinitis (especially of the patella and quadriceps) and plica syndrome which are all related to the overuse of the knee and will be experienced as pain around the kneecap.
Pain felt more in the outer knee from overuse from cycling is often iliotibial band friction syndrome; when the iliotibial band rubs against the femur causing friction and inflammation.
Work on your core strength, this helps reduce the load on the legs.
Wearing a knee support or brace during cycling can help take the strain off the knee joint.
Always stretch properly after every single ride.
Regular massage or osteopathy treatments.
Exercise your vastus medialis oblique muscle; you can try the following: squats using a Swiss ball between your back and the wall, squats with your feet turned out, or squeezing a ball between your knees whilst sitting down.
Ensuring your bicycle seat is high enough.
Shoe inserts and adjusting cleat positions may help.
Always build up training gradually - sudden increases increase the risk of a knee injury.
Osteopathy Treatment for Knee Injury and Pain
The first step with osteopathic treatment for cycling-related knee pain or injury is a diagnosis. Through careful questioning, observation and palpation (a hands-on examination) your osteopath will be able to determine the source of the problem and provide a treatment plan.
Your treatment plan will likely include stretches and exercises for you to do at home and may also include other home treatments such as ice or heat pads to promote healing, reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Common osteopathic treatments for knee pain and injuries include the stretching and mobilisation of the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the knee joint and the manipulation of the joint itself.
It is also possible that treatment will be required for other parts of the body that have been taking the strain since the injury of pain started - this is commonly called referred pain.
Common in over half of cyclists neck and back pain can have various cycling-related sources. A very common source is due to hyper-extension of the neck, this can happen for a huge number of reasons from craning the neck to see further down the road, badly positioned or fitting helmet so the cyclist has to crane the neck to see past the helmet, cyclists who wear glasses often hyper-extend their necks to be able to see through their glasses while cycling and the rounding of the upper spine which is common among cyclists also contribute to this hyper-extension of the neck.
The pain associated with hyperextension of the neck can be felt as a dull ache at the base of the skull often accompanied by headaches, twinges or sudden pains when turning or looking up and tightness in the shoulders and upper back.
Preventing Neck and Back Pain When Cycling
Wear a correctly sized and fitted helmet.
Ensure you have correctly positioned handlebars - too low and the rider will be forced to over-extend the neck.
Invest in prescription cycling glasses (rather than your regular glasses).
Ensure you are not locking your elbows when cycling to help you absorb impacts through your arms rather than your neck, shoulders and upper back.
Adjust your cycling posture - keeping your chin tucked in and your shoulder blades down and back will help avoid hyperextension of the neck.
Osteopathic Treatment For Cycling-Related Neck and Back Pain
An initial appointment will involve your osteopath getting to the source of the pain you are experiencing and creating a treatment plan.
You will likely get ‘homework’ in the form of stretches not only of the neck and back but of the hip flexors and hamstrings as tightening of these muscles is a common cause of improper posture during cycling which can lead to back and neck pain.
Your osteopath will also be likely to use muscle energy techniques to both relax and stretch tight muscles as well as joint manipulation to free up and realign restricted joints, massage to increase circulation and promote healing and counterstrain techniques to allow restricted joints to relax and relieve pain.
One of the most common results of accidents while cycling is head injuries. Although wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement in the UK it is recommended by us, as well as The Highway Code, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and most NHS trusts around the UK. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head, brain and facial injuries by 65-88%.
Osteopathic Treatment For Head Injuries
Cranial osteopathy can be an effective treatment for head injuries including post-concussion syndrome and TBI (traumatic brain injury) by reducing the pressure on the brain. This treatment is gentle and non-invasive and can help to rebalance the body and body fluids including cerebrospinal fluid.
How to Book
Whether you are experiencing pain or have been injured as a result of cycling. Whether pain is ruining your riding, or whether you want support to prevent cycling-related injuries from occurring in the first place - we can help.
It’s easy to book, just head over to our bookings page here and book a time that’s convenient to you and we’ll get you back in the saddle in no time!