How to Prevent Injuries in Cycling
Cycling is a very popular sport among people of all ages. Many of them see it as more than just sport – it is also an alternative, healthier way of going to work or for a weekend getaway. Amateurs or athletes, pedalling on a special track or out on the road, all cyclists are unfortunately exposed to all sorts of injuries.
Some of these injuries are related to the pedalling technique and quality of the equipment. Others are caused by outside circumstances, such as hitting an obstacle on a badly lit road. In all circumstances, the consequences of injury can vary from mild to severe. Thus, it is very important to take all measures of precaution and prevent as many of these potential injuries as possible.
In this article we will go through the most important tips and advice for preventing cycling injuries. No matter how simple and common sense they may seem, make sure that you tick-off each of them before you go out on the bike. Your health and wellbeing are more valuable than the few minutes spent making sure that you are properly equipped for cycling.
On the Road
- Wear Reflective Clothing
If you are going on your bike to and from work make sure that you have a reflective vest to put on or any other item of clothing with reflective elements. Since you will be pedalling among cars on the side of the road for a certain distance, it is of crucial importance to be visible to drivers from a safe distance.
You should also purchase self-adhesive reflective tape and place it on the main frame of the bicycle. You can never be too careful about your safety and it is always better to be extra cautious than sorry.
- Wear a Helmet at All Times
Helmets are not a fancy piece of equipment for professional cyclists – they are a crucial part of every cyclist’s equipment, which one day could save your life. Any fall from the bike when you hit your head against the ground could lead to serious complications. A helmet will protect your head and absorb most of the shock allowing you to get up and continue pedalling (if your bike was not damaged). You should never leave the cycling helmet behind, even when you go for a quick ride.
- Do Not Wear In-Ear or Earbud Headphones While Riding a Bike
No matter how well known or free of traffic the road is, never listen to music or to the radio with headphones while riding the bike. All your senses must be alert in order to avoid injury. Maybe there is just one car on the road, and its brakes aren’t working properly. If you cannot hear the driver honking, you are not able to steer away and prevent the collision.
On the Track/Off-Road
- Wear Padded Gloves
If your specialty is speed biking or cycling on rough off-road tracks, then your hands and wrists are going to endure lots of shocks and vibrations from the uneven surface, or from the tight grip on the handles to steer the bike on the fastest lane. In time, this kind of effort will take its toll in the form of over-use injuries to the muscles and ligaments of your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most frequent type of cycling related injury to the hand, and it is quite painful.
Padded gloves are extremely useful both because they offer you a better grip on the bike handle, and because they absorb most of the shocks before they reach your hands. Actually, every bike rider should wear gloves; sweaty hands slipping off the handles are yet another common cause of cycling injuries.
- Wear Well-Fitting Shoes
Always buy a pair of special sport shoes for cycling. They are more expensive than regular, all-purpose sport shoes, but the price is justified by the special design and materials which offer your foot comfort and protection while pedalling. A regular sport shoe is usually too wide to properly fit inside the pedal. Thus, you will be forced to put only your toes inside the pedal. You may even notice that you gain speed faster and with less effort this way. However, in time you will develop foot numbness.
- Have Your Bike Properly Set for Your Size
There are so many cycling injuries related to an inaccurately set bike that we feel that this should have been our first tip. However, we decided to leave the most important advice for last. Always have your handlebar and saddle height fit for your size. An inadequate position, hunched over the handles or with the seat too low, will cause you chronic neck pains, lower back pains and/or IT band syndrome.
Specialised cycling stores have trained staff that will be able to set your bike to an adequate position in a few minutes. And once you have your first bike set, it is good to write down the relevant numbers and have them ready whenever you change your bike.
Thus, following these simple tips and helpful suggestions, you can be sure that you did everything you could to prevent a cycling injury next time you go out on your bike.