The 2017 Tour de France is running from 1st – 23rd July. This marathon event truly is a test of human endurance comprising nine flat, five hill, five mountain and two time-trial stages – oh, and two rest days!
After watching this event avidly, many of us ‘armchair athletes’ will be joining the ranks of those who are already keen amateur or competitive cyclists, digging out our bike from the back of the garage and dusting off the cycling helmet from the top of the wardrobe!
Cycling injuries – and how to prevent them
It’s hard not to be inspired by the heroes of this competition. Dr Ben Purcell of Bathurst Chiropractic has compiled some useful tips for cyclists to help you stay safe and take your cycling performance to the next level.
Cycling is an amazing way to get fit and to keep in shape, but there are many related health problems that plague cyclists.
- ‘Micro-injuries’ that accumulate over time and eventually cause a serious problem
- Injuries from a crash, falling off a bike or a collision with other traffic can sideline athletes from a sport they love
- Wearing a good helmet is the best way of preventing head trauma but superficial injuries caused by skidding along the road in a crash are common and almost unavoidable.
Tips on preventing common cycling injuries
Whatever clothing you choose to wear, it is essential to have a properly set up bike and a good quality helmet. For safety, injury prevention and optimum performance, both must fit you perfectly.
While your bike shop can help you with both, a Chiropractor will be able to suggest bike adjustments that can help, for example:
- For neck pain prevention, shortening the stem so you are in a more upright position
- For help with low back pain, ensuring the back is in the right position for the specific frame type of your bike
- The position of the cleats is vital to help prevent knee pain and knee overuse injuries. Your chiropractor can also advise on cycling insoles for optimal support and comfort.
- Appropriate cleat positioning can also help prevent foot numbness, as excess pressure is exerted on the ball of the foot when positioned too far forward; and Achilles Tendonitis.
- Saddle positioning is also important. If your saddle is too high, your toes will be pointing downward and not in the correct position
- Adjusting the height of the saddle can help prevent saddle sores. However, this is a problem caused by friction between saddle, clothing and skin, so wearing the right clothing and using a proprietary cream for skin friction can help considerably.
Improve Your Cycling Performance
Avoid calf and hamstring pain
For many cyclists, especially those who train a lot, tight hamstrings and calf muscles can be a problem. It is important to take the time to warm up with stretches before you cycle and to have a ‘cool down’ routine of stretches after your ride.
Work on your core strength
While cycling is great for your cardiovascular health and your lower body strength, for peak performance and to achieve the most aerodynamic posture, you need to work on your core strength while off your bike. Your Chiropractor can help you with appropriate exercises that you can do at home or in the gym to build core strength and stability.
Work on your technique
Once you have a properly adjusted bike and have worked on your core strength, working on your cycling technique is the next thing that can improve efficiency and performance.
Work on pedalling smoothly and maintaining a good posture, and practice your breathing techniques to relax tension in your body. Work on improving power, strength and lung function with training drills such as interval training and sprints.
Work on your Nutrition
Your Bathurst Chiropractor can advise you on your nutritional needs so that you have the energy to fuel your performance and the necessary nutrients to help your body recover afterwards.
What to do now
For more advice on anything mentioned above, call Bathurst Chiropractic on (02) 6331 1004 to schedule an appointment. We can help with advice and guidance on preventing cycling injuries, improving your performance, and if you do pick up an injury, we can help get you back on track.