Cycling: yes or no?, we dismantle the myth that cycling is bad!

Cycling is a sport which in recent years has experienced a big boom, however, many health professionals criticize their practice but ... is it really that bad? Is it worth demonizing it so much?

It is true that in cycling the positions on the bike are not the most orthodox but ... isn't there a way to practice it safely?

Cycling can be practised individually or in groups, and it does not understand schedules. There are many modalities in cycling, mountain biking, road cycling, indoor cycling, adapted cycling, or just taking the bike and riding in the city; each with its own characteristics and risks, but ... is there a risk-free sport?

Pick the sport you want, you always have the risk of getting injured. For lovers of the sport injury can be a real nuisance, it can get you away from sport for a while or it can make the activity a lot less fun.

So the most interesting thing would be to know what we can do to prevent the injuries that this sport can cause us and thus practice it safely. Many cycling injuries do not depend on us, but some do, and it will be on these ones where we should act.

What are the most common injuries in cycling?

Amongst the most common cycling injuries that may occur we are: Achilles tendinopathy, patellar tendinopathy, tensor fascia latae tendinopathy, lower back pain, upper back pain, neck pain.

They are all injuries from the sport of cycling, so we can do different exercises to prevent them, in the unfortunate event of failing to prevent injury we recommend you visit a physical therapist to solve the problem as soon as possible. Now, let's see what we can do for each of them:

- Achilles tendinopathy:

Achilles tendinopathy is an Achilles tendon injury that may present with or without pain, inflammation and different degrees of functional impairment, depending on the severity of the injury.

In the first phase, pain only appears at the start of physical exercise and gradually disappears as we warm up, once the activity has finished the pain returns. In a second phase the pain does not stop at any time during the activity, leading to the athlete to stopping activity.

What can we do to prevent this problem?

The Achilles tendon is directly related to the gastrocnemius and the soleus, so, a good muscle health of these two muscles can help reduce the likelihood of developing the injury.

Carrying out self-massage over these muscles is very useful, and to do it nothing better than to use the 3TOOL and its zone 2, as you can see in the following video:

Besides this, we recommend you to always carry out smooth and progressive stretches after the activity.

- Patellar tendinopathy:

Patellar tendinopathy is an issue of the patellar tendon, located in the front of the knee. This injury is characterized by an overuse caused by the accumulation of repeated microtrauma.

In an initial phase, pain triggers with the first pedal strokes, it disappears once one warm ups and reappears when one cools down. In a second phase the pain is maintained through the whole sport activity, and in a third phase the pain occurs even at rest.

What can we do to prevent this problem?

The patellar and the quadriceps tendon are closely related to the quadriceps muscle, so good muscle health of these muscles will help us prevent getting this injury. To do this, we can apply self-massage and nothing better to help us than zone 2 of 3TOOL and a little cream, as we can see in the following video:

We can also explore our quadriceps muscle and explore it in search of painful spots to palpation on which we can apply a progressive self-compression.

Of course we should always accompany all this by adequate stretching after practicing sport.

- Tensor fascia latae tendinopathy:

This condition is also known as "iliotibial band syndrome" and is one of the most common problems in cyclists. It is an injury with a high prevalence and tends to chronicity. It is also an overuse injury due to continuous friction of the iliotibial band with the lateral condyle of the femur. The behaviour of this injury is also similar to the previous two.

What can we do to prevent this problem?

To try to prevent this very prevalent injury in cycling, we can apply relaxing self-massage along the iliotibial band and tensor fascia latae. To do this it is better to use 3TOOL and its zone 2, so our hands suffer much less. In the following video we can see how:

In many cases, it would be highly recommended to carry out self-compressions with zone 1 over painful spots on the tensor fascia latae.

  • Back pain:

Back pain either; lumbar, dorsal, or cervical, is also a very common problem in cyclists. Its origin is very diverse and it will be the task of the physiotherapist to seek the factors that cause it as not in everyone these will be the same. Back pain in cyclists, usually is joint or muscular, it is much less common for neural structures to be involved.

So muscle trigger points, and stiffness of the various vertebral segments are the main causes of back pain in this sport.

What can we do to prevent this problem?

There are several things we can do to try to prevent this problem, or try to fix it once it occurs. First if we appreciate a particular painful spot in any area of the back we can apply self-compression with zone 1 of 3TOOL as discussed below in this video:

in this case it is applied on the infraspinatus muscle, but it is perfectly extrapolated to any other area. Only the sub-nuchal or suboccipital area is different, for that area you can watch the following video:

We can also apply self-massage, it all depends on the muscles involved. When it comes to the lumbar paravertebral muscles, which lies on both sides of the spine, we can perform the following exercise:

If instead it is the cervical area, we can distinguish the following exercises:

Finally, perhaps our problem can be caused by rigidity in a vertebral segment. This is something your usual physiotherapist should assess, however, we can proactively perform the following exercise with zone 3 of 3TOOL to relax our spine, always being careful and gentle as in the following video:

We hope all this information and all these exercises will be of great help to improve your health, and we recommend you always carry out proper stretching after your sport and you hydrate well. Finally, too many injuries can also be prevented by adjusting certain biomechanical parameters of the bike, for this you must see specialists in biomechanics.

Finally we recommend you a very interesting book on injury prevention in cycling. The book is titled “La salud del ciclista: prevención y cuidado de lesiones” by Pablo Gallego Herrero, hope you find it useful. In the following links you can find more information about the book:

- "La salud del ciclista: prevención y cuidado de lesiones" (Facebook)

- "La salud del ciclista: prevención y cuidado de lesiones" (Amazon)

- "La salud del ciclista: prevención y cuidado de lesiones" (iTunes)

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