Recent figures show that the number of people cycling is increasing year on year,* with many travelling to work by bike, as well as taking part in amateur competitions across the country.
Cycling is a great form of cardio exercise and an easy way for all the family to get out and about. It also helps increase muscle strength and flexibility, and is a great way to improve coordination and decrease stress levels.
The Tour De Yorkshire kicks off again this week. Now in its fourth year, the cycling event is continuing to grow in size as well as popularity, with more than 2.2 million people watching the race across Yorkshire in 2017. The success of the event has also encouraged more people to take up cycling.
While cycling is a good way to stay fit and healthy, there are some common issues which people experience, but can be easily prevented with some simple steps.
Holding the handlebar in the same position for a long time or leaning too far forward can cause pressure on the wrists and compress the ulnar nerve, which runs all the way from the little finger up through the elbow and into the upper arm. It is the largest unprotected nerve in the body, so can be easily damaged.
The simplest way to prevent injury is to make sure that you regularly change position with your hands. Most bikes are designed to allow riders to grip the handlebars in different places so you can make sure you’re not stuck in the same position for too long.
If you spend a lot of time sitting in the same position, it can cause pain to your muscles. The same is true of cycling because the position you ride in means that a lot of stress goes through your spine. Often supporting back muscles have to work harder – which causes pain – because there is not enough core support.
Ensuring your bike fits correctly can really improve your comfort, as well as doing some simple exercises to strengthen your core and support your spine. Your local cycle shop should be able to help you set up your bike and make sure everything is properly aligned.
Many cyclists use cleats to fasten their feet to pedals, but if they’re not fitted properly they can lead to knee pain. If your cleats are not properly positioned at the right angle, you will end up with pain in your knees that won’t get better until it’s sorted. Make sure your clips are correctly aligned and you will save your knees, as well as being able to generate more power.
Saddle sores are a common cycling complaint and are caused by the friction of your bones (particularly the area of bone at the bottom of your pelvis) against the seat. The problem can be worsened by having your saddle too high – so your hips move around a lot – or not having enough padding in your cycling shorts.
Make sure your sports gear is appropriate for your activity to help prevent chafing and try adjusting your saddle height. If you have a severe skin injury, such as a deep cut that won't stop bleeding, you may need medical treatment, so please seek professional advice if you are unsure.
With lots of people getting out and about on their bikes this weekend to watch the action of the Tour De Yorkshire or take part themselves, it’s important to remember the golden rule and make sure you warm up and cool down properly to reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury. Here’s wishing all the riders the best of luck.
If you do suffer an injury, at LivingCare we have a team of sports injury experts who have worked with Commonwealth and Olympic athletes. To book an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 0113 397 0981 and a member of our team will be happy to help.