For a lot of folks, cycling isn’t merely a great form of fitness but also a main method of transportation. So cycling injuries not only put them in pain but also prevent them from pedaling to work.
Fortunately, most of the common bike-related injuries are easily avoidable. Here are five easy ways to prevent some of the more common cycling injuries.
Wear a helmet
This is probably the easiest way to prevent some of the most serious injuries you can get from riding a bicycle. And yet, it’s unbelievable how many people still ride without protecting their noggins. Forget helmet hair, a head injury could keep you off your bike forever.
Proper bike fit
If your bike doesn’t fit your body right, you’ll feel it. You’ll feel it all over. Your back, knees, and neck will be sore. You might feel numbness in your arms and hands, all of which can lead to more serious nerve problems. So if you’re unsure of what size bike frame you need, ask before you buy. Most bike shop employees will be happy to help you find a good fit and let you take a test ride to be sure. Bodies are built differently, so the bike that fits your friend of the same height might not be the right size for you. When you’re seated on a bike, your legs should fully extend while pedaling and you should be able to reach the handlebars without straining, your elbows slightly bent.
A good saddle
You might find that the saddle that came with your bike is not very comfortable. Sometimes it’s dreadfully uncomfortable, leaving you with numbness and pain in a sensitive area after longer rides. If this is the case, get some chamois cream to prevent sores, and, you know, just buy a new saddle. There are a variety of saddles with wider backs or cutouts to choose from that may help relieve some of the pressure—and it’s a good investment because the very last thing you want is to end up with any major urogenital or reproductive health issues. Don’t be shy about explaining the issue to someone at your local bike shop. They’ve likely heard it before and will be able to point you to a more comfortable bike seat.
The best way to avoid cramps is to keep your muscles properly hydrated. Water is perfectly sufficient for shorter or easier rides, though you might want a sports drink to replace electrolytes for longer, more intense rides.
Taking the time to stretch can help prevent a lot of overuse injuries and cramping. Pay extra attention to your hamstrings and quadriceps, which tend to cramp and tighten most often for cyclists. If you do cramp up, take a break and give yourself a massage with your knuckles to loosen the muscles. Foam rollers are also great for self-massage, though be prepared for the pain that comes with rolling, because it’ll hurt. It’ll hurt so good.