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Most Common Cycling Pains and Injuries (And How To Prevent Them)

Are you a cyclist and afraid of getting injured? Don't be! This blog will teach you the most common cycling injuries and how to prevent them.

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Cycling is a terrific way to get some exercise while still seeing the sights. However, it is possible to sustain an injury while cycling. This article will look at some of the most common cycling injuries. So, what are the most common bike accidents?

In this article, you will learn what causes cycling injuries. Common cycling injuries from crashes and cycling injuries are caused by poor cycling technique or posture, so you can avoid injury and ride safely.

Knee discomfort is the most common type of injury. These can happen when you apply too much effort to a joint while pedaling, causing the ligaments to tear. Muscle strains, road rash, and shattered bones are other common injuries. It is critical to be aware of these dangers and to take precautions.

Image of a man with a tattered up face. Source: tom jur, unsplash
Image of a man with a tattered up face. Source: Tom Jur, Unsplash

Editor’s note: This article was updated on July 4, 2022, to include additional information about the most common cycling injuries. I am not a doctor. Please speak to your doctor for professional medical advice.

Before learning about the most common cycling injuries, let’s first understand what causes cycling injuries.

What causes cycling injuries?

Some of the most common causes of cycling injuries are:

  • Cycling accidents
  • Bad posture or technique
  • Overuse of overuse

Cycling accidents

Bike accidents and falls can cause a wide range of injuries to the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons.

Overuse of overuse

Overuse (repetitive movements) can harm your knees and joints over a long period of time.

Bad posture or technique

A saddle that is too low or too high can cause the calf muscle and tendon pain; cleats that are not positioned in the proper position can cause calf and foot pain, and handlebars that are too far forward can create neck and back problems.

If you have any pain when cycling, it is usually best to see a medical practitioner as soon as possible. Many bike-related injuries can be treated quickly. But if left untreated for a long time, they may need more intensive care or even surgery.

Once you get an accurate diagnosis, fixing the problem may be as simple as changing your bike configuration to lessen the strain on specific portions of your body.

Common cycling injuries from crashes

If you’re a biker, you should know the most common cycling injuries caused by crashes. These injuries frequently result in long-term health issues and arduous rehabilitation processes.

  • Fractured clavicle
  • A broken leg or hip
  • Hand and elbow fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Broken ribs
  • Road rash

Fractured clavicle

A fractured clavicle is also known as a broken collarbone. This happens when you fall off your bike and try to catch yourself on an outstretched arm. A fall on an outstretched arm places enough strain on the clavicle bone to cause it to crack or break.

A broken leg or hip.

Hip fractures are a common occurrence among cyclists. If you take a spill and land on your side, your hip will bear most of the impact. This is because the hip joint functions similarly to a ball and socket; if you land on it hard enough, the femoral head (ball) will rupture the acetabulum (socket).

A hip fracture can keep you out of commission for several months, and you will need crutches or a walker to get around while you heal. 

Hand and elbow fractures

It is natural to try to catch yourself if you crash and fall off your bike by extending your arm out. However, depending on how you land on it, this can result in a fractured wrist, elbow, or arm.

Head injuries

When cycling, it is critical to always wear a helmet. However, even wearing a helmet, you may sustain a concussion if you bang your head on the ground.

Broken ribs

When you fall on your side, rib fractures are common. Sometimes rib fractures can puncture a lung; if you have a wreck and are having trouble breathing, call an ambulance and get assessed right away.

Road rash

Cycling accidents frequently result in severe skin abrasions. Surface road rash should be cleansed and then covered. Abrasions typically ooze for several days before beginning to heal. Wounds that are protected heal faster and with less scarring than wounds left to scab over. Sutures or skin grafts may be required to repair deeper abrasions. If there is any doubt, have them assessed by a doctor.

Common cycling pains caused by poor posture

Cycling injuries can occur due to poor cycling technique or improper posture.
These include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Wrist, arm, hand, and neck pain
  • Hot foot
  • Saddle sores

Lower back pain

Lower back discomfort is one of the most prevalent injuries suffered by cyclists due to hours spent bent over the handlebars. Tense lower back muscles cause changes in posture, which can affect other areas. Specifically, the piriformis muscle runs from the lower back to the upper side of the thighbone. Irritation here can cause hip discomfort or pain somewhere lower in the leg because the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your toes, can get irritated when the piriformis is tight.

If you have lower back pain, take some time to rest, stretch your back and hips, and experiment with a foam roller. If the problem persists, consult a specialist, such as an osteopath, who can alleviate the symptoms. Then consider making some changes to avoid a recurrence. The following are important considerations:

Position on the bike: If you ride aggressively and have a long stem/top tube and low handlebars, you might want to lower the handlebars to relieve pressure.

Off the bike: Consider your posture if you work at a desk. Investing in a Mckenzie pillow (a spherical pillow that sits on your lower back and helps maintain excellent posture) is a good option. You should also ensure that your setup does not encourage awkward twisting and that your chair is comfortable.

Core strength: If your core muscles aren’t strong enough, your lower back will collapse when riding the bike, generating unnecessary effort. Working on your core strength will make you a more powerful rider because your legs will be pushing the pedals on a stronger basis, so it’s a win-win situation.

Knee pain

The knee (the cap known as the patella) is a joint between the upper and lower leg. Repetitive pedaling can cause Achilles tendinitis.

Bike fit issues frequently cause knee pain. If this is the case, consider your frame size or saddle. Pain at the kneecap is frequently caused by an excessively low saddle, putting unnecessary pressure on the patella. Pain behind the knee, also known as posterior knee pain, is frequently caused by a saddle that is too high, stretching the hamstring attachments. Lateral and medial knee pain can be caused by poor cleat setup, which causes the knee to track wrongly.

Wrist, arm, hand, and neck pain

In an ideal scenario, approximately 60% of your body weight is positioned at the back of the bike and 40% at the front. Your arms and wrists will suffer if you put too much force through the handlebars. So the first thing to look for is that your reach is not too long and your handlebars are not too low.

Neck aches can also occur if the handlebars are too low, as the rider is compelled to hyperextend to see what’s ahead. Wrist pain might arise when your handlebar position forces you to bend your wrist at an improper angle. By unlocking the stem bolts, you can alter the position of your handlebars and hoods; shifting the bars upwards will significantly reduce the reach.

Choosing compact or shallow drop handlebars shortens the distance traveled when riding in the drops and can help relieve pressure.

Tingling in the fingers can be caused by pressure on the Ulnar nerve, which runs between your ring and little finger; this condition is known as Ulnar neuropathy or handlebar palsy.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve, which causes tingling in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers.

Cycling mitts and gloves include padded sections to help minimize nerve compression, so if you’re having trouble, a decent set of mitts might be a good place to start. Below are some options to consider.

Hot foot

Foot pain is common among bikers, which is not surprising. Add to that that most riders only have one pair of cycling shoes—one for summer rides when their feet expand and one for winter rides when we stuff them with socks—and you can see where problems may arise.

“Hot foot” is a common symptom characterized by a burning feeling, numbness, or discomfort on the underside of the foot. It is caused mostly by pressure on the nerves that run through the ball of the foot and towards the toes. To deal with it, we must soften or shift the pressure. If you have hot feet or numbness in the summer, your feet are most likely swelling; the solution is to loosen your shoes as much as possible or look for shoes with some breathing room. Below are some shows that may solve this problem for you.

If the problem occurs during the winter, you may be wearing socks that are too thick to allow blood supply to reach your feet. In such a scenario, either look for thin socks*. Or invest in a bigger pair of shoes.

Aside from hot feet, plantar fasciitis is another common foot problem that affects runners but can also affect cyclists. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the underside of the foot, tightening when we step to allow power to be distributed across the sole.

Excessive tension can cause the plantar fascia to become abnormally tight or injured. In this scenario, rolling the foot over a tennis ball (or freezing a bottle of water to combine ice) can help reduce tension. In addition, custom insoles that correctly support the foot’s arch can help reduce long-term pain.

Saddle sores

There are different kinds of saddle sores, but this group includes any sore, raised area of skin on the buttocks or lower back caused by the saddle. When a saddle sore appears, the best thing to do is keep the area clean (with unscented soap) and dry. If sitting on the saddle hurts, it’s a good idea to take a few days off the bike until the skin heals.

It’s not simply about the discomfort produced in the affected area. Other injuries may occur if a rider begins to sit lop-sided on the saddle to avoid pressure on the skin.

It’s all about the saddle and cycling shorts regarding prevention. First, you must pick a saddle that fits you and ensure that it is properly set up.

Cycling shorts should fit well and have a chamois that fits your body shape. In addition, you can use chamois cream to reduce friction and kill bacteria.

Cycling shorts should be changed after a ride and washed after each usage. As ingrown hairs can be painful, hair removal should be avoided or kept to a minimum.

See a physiotherapist or doctor if you’re having trouble with a persistent problem. And keep in mind that a week of additional rest with a little illness is always preferable to several months off if it turns severe.

How to prevent cycling injuries?

The most important strategy to avoid overuse injuries is to have a professional fit for your bike. This relieves pressure on your hands and lowers your back while promoting proper joint alignment. In addition, to minimize overuse damage, gradually increase your time on the bike; a 10% increase per week is normally considered safe.

If you are in pain, take it slow. While riding, always use a helmet and the appropriate safety equipment. Consider having both forward and rear-facing lights to make yourself visible to drivers. When biking on routes with cars, stay vigilant and avoid wearing headphones.

If you want even more tips, watch this video called “Top 10 Most Common Cycling Injuries” from the Global Cycling Network YouTube Channel.

A video called Top 10 Most Common Cycling Injuries from the Global Cycling Network YouTube Channel.

Frequently askeF.A.Q.uestions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the most common cycling injuries.

Are bicycle accidents common?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle accidents account for 2% of traffic-related deaths (NHTSA). However, hospital data suggests that only a small percentage of bicycle accidents resulting in harm are reported to authorities.

What is the most common injury among cyclists?

Injuries are widespread among cyclists, with ligament injuries being the most common. These can happen when you apply too much effort to a joint while pedaling, causing the ligaments to tear. Other common injuries include muscular strains and bone fractures in the feet.

It is critical to be aware of these dangers and to take precautions. Make sure you warm up enough before getting on your bike and pedal slowly until you feel comfortable with how hard you are working.

What is the most serious type of bike injury?

Head injuries are the most common type of injury sustained by bicyclists, accounting for 22 percent to 47 percent of all injured bicyclists. The issue with head injuries is that they are quite serious. The bulk of the long-term disabilities caused by bike accidents is caused by head injuries.

How do most bicycle accidents happen?

One of the most common causes of bicycle accidents is collisions with vehicles, which frequently result in serious injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that most bike accidents happen when riders fall or hit cars.

The most common reasons are drivers changing lanes without checking for cyclists, turning without looking, driving too close to bike lanes and shoulders, and texting while driving.

When do most bike accidents happen?

No matter what time of year it was, most cyclists’ deaths happened between 6 and 9 p.m. In 2020, bicyclists were killed more frequently in cities (79%) than in rural places (21%). Male bicycle deaths were seven times higher than female bike deaths in 2020.

Where do most bicycle fatalities occur?

Intersections were the sites of 27% of fatal bicycle incidents. Sixty-three percent happened in areas other than intersections on the road. 10% of fatal bicycle incidents occur on other surfaces such as sidewalks, medians, trails, roadsides, parking lanes, etc.

How many bike accidents are fatal?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 932 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic collisions in 2020, representing an 8.9 percent increase from 856 in 2019. Bicyclists accounted for 2% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities.

How do you fall off a bike correctly?

Allow your forearm to make first contact with the ground rather than your wrist. Next, fold yourself up as far as possible, chin on your chest, and wrap your other arm around your head to protect it. Allow your body to roll over your shoulder once you feel the hit.

Should you go to the hospital if you fell off your bike?

Check your body before you do anything. Feel all of your limbs? Are all of your bones still under your skin? Is there a lot of blood? If you are critically hurt, don’t move too much; instead, telephone for aid and seek medical attention.

Can cycling cause meniscus tear

Yes. It is possible to get a meniscus tear while cycling.

Conclusion

Cycling is one of the most popular kinds of exercise. It’s a great way to raise your heart rate, burn calories, and build muscle strength and endurance. Cycling, like everything else, can result in injury.

This article covered what causes cycling injuries. Common cycling injuries from crashes and cycling injuries are caused by poor cycling technique. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Overuse, repetitive strain, or a traumatic impact from a fall are the most common causes of injuries in cyclists, whether they are recreational or professional, road or mountain biking.
  • If you’re a biker, you should be aware of the most common cycling injuries caused by crashes. These injuries frequently result in long-term health issues and arduous rehabilitation processes.
  • Cycling injuries can occur as a result of poor cycling technique or posture.

So, how do you stay safe on the road? Did we cover everything you wanted to know? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed-gear and single-speed bikes. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful resources

Image of a man with a tattered up face pinterest
Image of a man with a tattered up face, Pinterest
Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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