Thursday, 28 February 2013

Cycling Injury Prevention

Many cycling injuries can be prevented, as the vast majority of acute injuries are due to a fall from the bike. Others such as the overuse injuries listed above are often due to incorrect bike set-up, improper training techniques or postural issues.

Warm Up

Warming up is often overlooked but should be part of your injury prevention routine. A good warm will:
  • Increase the temperature of muscles - they work better at a temperature of 40 degrees.
  • Increase blood flow and oxygen to muscles.
  • Increase the speed of nerve impulses - making you faster.
  • Increase range of motion at joints reducing the risk of tearing muscles and ligaments
Warm up will not only help avoid injury but will also improve performance.
A warm up should consist of:
  • A gentle pulse raiser for 5-10 minutes to circulate blood and oxygen supplying the muscles with more energy to work with. Ideally this should be performed off the bike in the form of a jog or skipping for example.
  • Stretching to increase the range of motion at joints. Emphasis should be placed on stretching the muscles of the legs and lower back, although do not neglect the upper body completely! 

Cool Down

This is also often overlooked in favor of sitting down and resting! However, it can help avoid injuries and boost performance. The aim of the cool down is to:
  • Gradually lower heart rate.
  • Circulate blood and oxygen to muscles, restoring them to the condition they were in before exercise.
  • Remove waste products such as lactic acid.
  • Reduce the risk of muscle soreness.
The cool down should consist of a period of very easily cycling a the end of the work-out, lasting 5-10 minutes, followed by light stretching.

Protective Clothing 

Protective equipment can literally save a cyclists life, especially for road cyclists. The most important of all cycling equipment is, of course, the helmet. The helmet should meet with certain safety standards and must be fitted to properly fit the individual. Helmet's should be replaced in the event of an impact, or within 3 years of purchase due to deterioration of the expanded polystyrene foam that many are made from.

Other protective gear such as gloves, knee and elbow pads can be worn, and are particularly advisable for those involved in cycling such as BMX.

Sports Massage

Getting a regular sports massage can flush the muscles of waste products and release tight knots, lumps and bumps in muscles that if left may cause strains and tears. It is possible for a good sports massage therapist to identify potential trouble spots long before they become injuries.

Nutrition, Hydration & Injury

Proper nutrition is important. A bad diet will prevent you from recovering from training sessions making you more prone to injury. A balanced diet is what you should aim for:
  • Carbohydrate is important for refueling muscles.
  • Protein rebuilds muscles.
  • If you become dehydrated then less blood will flow through muscles. The muscles will be more prone to injury.
  • Vitamins and minerals are required for a number of reasons related to recovery.
Much of what is discussed above should be part of your sporting routine. A biomechanical analysis can help identify possible injury risks. Assessment from a sports therapist or specialist can identify weak areas and possible injury risks. A course of exercises specific to your needs can give you the best chance of avoiding injury.


Not allowing your body to recover properly from training will eventually result in injury. Your body needs time to rebuild itself stronger before the next training session. Remember - you are not training when you are training, you are training when you recover! Sleep is also an important part of your training. If you are not getting enough, get it sorted.