Injuries for cyclists

Injuries for cyclists

As cycling is a very repetitive sport, any injuries that occur tend to be related to overuse and can usually be attributed to inadequate bike setup, training volume changes, or weakness with certain muscle groups. The most common areas for injuries to occur are the knee, lumbar spine, and neck.

Knee pain

Knee pain is most often reported in the anterior knee and can occur in the patellofemoral joint, meniscus, or various bursa located around the knee. These pathologies occur due to increased or abnormal contact pressures at the knee joint, which is likely due to a poor bike setup, a large increase in training volume, or riding at a low cadence in heavy gears. A professional bike fit and complete regular strengthening exercises focused on your quads and glutes can address this as well as increase your riding cadence.

Lower back pain

Lower back pain will normally come about due to spending a large amount of time in a fixed position. Most often this is when a rider’s bike setup is too aggressive/aero than their bodies can tolerate. Most low back pain associated with cycling can be managed with a bike fit as well as strength training for your core glutes and lower back. It should also be noted that those with foraminal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or facet joint arthropathy tend to find cycling as a flexed position offloads these irritable structures. It is important to remember that any radiating pain or sensory changes in the lumbar spine or cervical spine should be evaluated by a general practitioner or physiotherapist.

Neck pain

Neck pain associated with cycling is most often a result of an increased time spent in an aero tuck which leads to our neck being forced into extension and protraction to keep eyes on the road. When holding this posture for a long period of time it will test the endurance of our cervical extensors and the musculature of our shoulder girdle. It is important to ensure that as part of your strengthening program you are working on upper limb strength, not just lower limb dominant exercises.

When considering bike setup it is important to strike a balance between an aerodynamic racing position and a rider’s comfort. A tailored and varied strengthening program will complement your riding, and often leads to improved overall performance.

If you are interested in perfecting your training program or have one of these conditions you want some help to fix, our Senior Physiotherapist Matt Delaney is an avid cyclist and triathlete and can assist you in achieving your cycling goals. Book an appointment with him to learn how to get yourself cycling pain free again.


Published June 21, 2022


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