Pain while cycling: Is it time for bike-fit check?

With the Dubai cycling season well underway, you may be already racking up the miles with frequent visits to cycling tracks such as those located at Al Qudra and Nad Al Sheba. If you are starting to feel aches and pains while cycling, you are probably not alone as our team of Sports Doctors, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, and Chiropractors get a rise in numbers of people with pain from cycling about this time of year.

Lower back pain and knee pain are the two most common injuries in recreational and competitive cyclists. A possible reason is a bike is not set up correctly for you, however, there are also some other things you can change besides the bike fit that might help alleviate these aches and pain.

 

Studies have shown that knee pain keeps cyclists off the bike the longest while neck and back pain is the most common injury reported so let look at this as a start.
Clare Brown, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor

Low back pain in cycling has been found to be directly related to the amount of flexion (bending forward) in the spine while riding. If you are using drop bars this can be simply eased by riding on the hoods, therefore, decreasing the amount you are leaning forward.  This will also reduce discomfort from the arms being overstretched forward- which causes more tension in the neck. Coming out of the aero position every 20 minutes or so is a simple solution that doesn’t need any technical adjusting to the bike.

Are you warming up and warming down enough or correctly? Early morning Cyclists are notorious for skipping a decent warm up. A quick 5-10 minutes spent moving through the hips, thighs and lower back will ease any stiffness we have accumulated in our sleep. Additionally, if we ride at night after a long day sitting in the office we are going to have tight hips. Those hip flexor muscles will be shortened after a long ride which may cause tightening through the spine leading to pain.

Hip flexor stretch for cyclists opens up the hips:

Strength and conditioning 

Strength may be another factor….or rather the lack of! Muscles primarily used in cycling are the quadriceps (front of the thigh) and gluteals (the butt!) while hamstrings and calf are used but to a lesser extent. A good core is also essential especially when out of the saddle. If you are weak in any of these areas a specialised strengthening program may be needed to avoid fatigue leading to pain and injury.

Exercises such as the ‘goblet squat’ help strengthen the legs for cycling:

Overtraining

Are you simply riding too much? Overtraining is also a leading cause of injuries, not just for cyclists but for all athletes. Yes, you want to train harder to perform better at your upcoming event, however, if you cause an injury you won’t get to the start line! While the training may make you stronger and faster your body needs rest as well. Be sensible with your training program and if in doubt get advice from a coach or expert.

So those are just a few tips that may help you ride with more comfort and reduce the likelihood of injury. Although a good bike fit & setup is essential it may be your body and not the bike’s body that needs attention!

For guidance on the optimal bike-fit UPANDRUNNING recommends the team at Revolution Cycles Dubai.

If you need help with any condition caused by cycling, Our team of Doctors, Physios, Osteos and strength and conditioning specialists at UPANDRUNNING Dubai are here to help you.

To book an appointment please call 4 518 5400 or click here

Clare is a physiotherapist, clinical educator and presenter specialising in sport for 20 years.
Clare Brown, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor