The majority of cycle related injuries can be due to a number of bike and human variables such as overuse/ overtraining, previous injuries, poor technique, incorrect bike fitting to name a few. A study from Norway (Clarsen et al 2010) interviewed 109 professional cyclists and identified that out of 94 injuries 46% had lower back, 23% knee and 10% neck over the previous 12 months.
Lower back pain is the most common complaint when reviewing the research literature on cycling and may be due to many factors;
- Over reaching due to incorrect frame size and stem length or height
- Poor body balance and centre of mass positioning
- Incorrect saddle positions such as over tilting, too far forward, backwards or too high
- Sustained poor sitting postures on and off the bike
- Handle bars too low or too high
- Incorrect pedal crank length
Knee problems are not as common as lower back pain but are more likely to cause time off the bike then any other injury. The cleat placement is fundamental to the knee position as well when a saddle is too high, low or too far forward or back. The extended position of the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke is paramount to a bike fit and the subjective feeling of the cyclist and the observation should be one of smoothness. The recommended knee positions over pedal and the advised angles are an area of controversy as there is no significant evidence to support them.
Ultimately we are all individuals of varying sizes and shapes with different upper, lower limb and trunk ratios.
As a bike fitter and Physiotherapist the key is too have good observational skills supported with video analysis, but crucially constantly assessing feedback from the cyclist during the bike fit process.
Overuse and overtraining or more specifically, training duration, frequency and intensity can be yet another contributing factor in the irritation of any of the lower limb structures. We need time to
recover and for our bodies to adapt to the stresses and strain of exercise. Increasingly popular within the cycle population is getting the right advice from cycle coaches on appropriate training. This is
available to all abilities and is not reserved for the cycling elite. At bikefly we are fortunate to be able to work closely with Steve Harrop at skyhookcoaching , a professional cycle coach.
Ultimately having some specific structure to your cycling improves you both physically and mentally and more importantly prepares your body for the year ahead.
This is the time to get a Bikefit and Physiotherapy review to get rid of those niggles and perhaps now is the opportunity to optimise your winter training with a structured training programme specific for you.