Every cyclist is likely to sustain an injury while riding at some point – and some injuries can be pretty painful. Although most injuries heal in a short space of time, more severe injuries can result in broken bones.
We’ve put together a list of the most common cycling injuries. This way, you know how to prevent them from happening and what course of action to take if they do.
It’s easy to see how being sat on an uncomfortable little seat while your legs pedal up and down for hours might cause some friction during a long ride. This can lead to unpleasant and painful rashes on your inside thighs and backside.
It might not sound that serious, but saddle sores have been known to force professional cyclists to drop out of races. So, don’t adopt the ‘no pain no gain’ mentality.
If you get saddle sores, it’s tempting to adjust your cycling posture to avoid irritating them. However, this can cause strains, cramps, or pain elsewhere in your body. To help prevent saddle sores in the first place, make sure your saddle is the right height for you and wear breathable and high wicking cycling shorts.
It’s also important to change out of your cycling shorts immediately after you’ve finished your ride, as saddle sores thrive in moist environments. Applying chamois cream to saddle sore hotspots before your ride will help kill bacteria and reduce friction as well. For more saddle sore prevention tips, check out our article.
Knee pain is one of the most common cycling injuries around. This is due to the repetitive bending and straightening of the knee joint as you pedal.
The most common type of cycling-related knee injury tends to be Runner’s Knee – which is pretty ironic, considering cycling is often considered lower impact than running. Runner’s Knee happens when friction in your knee joint and muscles leads to inflammation of the surrounding tissue, which typically causes pain on the outside of your knee.
As with most cycling injuries, this injury can be prevented by ensuring your saddle and handlebars are correctly adjusted for your height and leg length.
At no point should your knee be overextended while pedalling. Your knee should still be ever so slightly bent at the bottom of a pedal rotation. You should also make sure your feet are pointing forwards on the pedals, with the balls of your feet central.
Chronic knee pain can be managed by icing or applying anti-inflammatory gel to the affected area after rides, followed by resting before your next one. Stretching ahead of a bike ride or wearing a knee strap during the ride also help keep it at bay. In more severe cases, physiotherapy might be required.
For more information on knee pain, why it happens and how you can prevent it, check out this article from Cycling Weekly.
Lower back pain
It probably comes as no surprise that hunching over a pair of handlebars can take its toll on your back.
This isn’t just down to cycling, though; it’s down to our lifestyle choices away from the bike as well. Most of us go to work and hunch over a desk all day, then come home to slouch on the couch. Our backs can never catch a break.
Over time, chronic compression of the spine and poor posture can lead to ruptured disks and chronic back pain. To alleviate this while on your bike, think about where your weight is being supported by your body. If you have a high seat and low handlebars, all that weight will be forced on your hips and lower back. Consider height adjustments to find the most comfortable fit.
To make sure your back stays healthy at any other time, make similar adjustments to your sitting posture. This should ensure your back is strong and hasn’t already suffered before you even get on the bike. Core strength training really helps in this respect, too.
Broken collar bone
Given it’s a natural instinct for people to hold their arms in front of them when they fall off a bike, broken collar bones are one of the most common cycling injuries. We’ve actually had a number of claims for broken collar bones recently.
The force of your arm hitting the ground might break your fall and prevent a potential head injury, but that force travels through your arm and culminates at your collar bone.
Certain types of riding make this injury more likely, such as downhill mountain biking, freestyle BMX, or dirt jumping. The obvious reason for this is that these types of riding involve more hazards and risks being taken.
However, it can happen to the commuter on a main road, or a casual weekend rider on a canal towpath, too. All it takes is a stubborn piece of rubble or for you to veer into a grid to bring the forward momentum of your bike to a complete halt, and for you to sustain a serious injury.
If you have a crash on your bike and suspect you’ve broken a bone, you should see a doctor for a full diagnosis and further treatment. In the immediate moments after the crash, you should apply an ice pack to the area to reduce pain and swelling.
Cuts, grazes, and bruises
While usually not the most severe, cuts, grazes and bruises are collectively the most common cycling injury.
Most crashes or falls don’t result in broken bones or strains or torn ligaments. You mostly just feel a bit beaten up as the bruises set in. However, nearly every crash or fall will result in you sustaining one of these three injuries, with varying severity. For this reason, it’s worth carrying a first aid kit to patch up any cuts or grazes.
To prevent cuts, grazes and bruises, you can wear pads on your elbows, hips and knees, long-sleeve clothing or compression base layers. The surest way, though, is to be vigilant and look out for any potential hazard while you ride.
Cuts, grazes and bruises all tend to heal quickly on their own and can be managed with antiseptic ointment and some band-aids, but obviously there are more severe exceptions. With bruises, keep an eye out for hematomas which might appear to swell and balloon over the impact site. With all three, if you’re in any doubt and believe the injuries are more than superficial, you should visit the hospital for peace of mind.
If you sustain a serious injury while cycling, this could prevent you from working and earning money for a while. That’s why Personal Accident cover is essential.
At Cycleplan, we provide up to £50,000 Personal Accident cover, which covers physiotherapy, broken bones, hospitalisation and emergency dental expenses.
Get an instant online quote today and see what we can do for you.