This guide is written by our Sports Massage therapist, Kit Liu. Here he shares his top tips for cyclists to avoid injury and enhance performance. Kit was a member of the Medical team working with the Gold medal-winning Hong Kong Cycling team at the 2014 Asian Games so he’s definitely worth listening to!
Cycling is an exhilarating and rewarding sport that not only promotes cardiovascular health but also offers a sense of freedom and adventure. However, the repetitive motions and intense physical demands of cycling can lead to various injuries if not approached with care.
Proper Bike Fit
Ensuring your bike fits you correctly is paramount in preventing injuries. A poorly fitted bike can lead to discomfort, strain, and unnecessary pressure on specific body parts. A consultation with a professional bike fitter to adjust the bike’s saddle height, handlebar position, and pedal alignment to suit your body’s unique proportions can be really valuable. A well-fitted bike will not only reduce the risk of injury but also enhance your cycling efficiency and performance.
Warm-Up and Cool Down
Never underestimate the power of a good warm-up and cool-down routine. Prior to starting your ride, engage in dynamic stretches and light exercises to increase blood flow to your muscles, preparing them for the upcoming ride. After your ride, incorporate static stretches to release tension and promote muscle recovery. By incorporating these practices into your cycling routine, you’ll reduce the likelihood of strains and muscle imbalances.
Build Core Strength
Having a strong core is essential for maintaining stability and balance while cycling. Strengthen your core muscles through exercises like planks, bridges, and Russian twists. A strong core not only helps protect your lower back from injury but also improves your overall cycling performance by generating more power and stability during climbs and sprints.
Avoid pushing yourself too hard, too soon. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your rides to allow your body to adapt to the physical demands of cycling. Rapidly increasing mileage or intensity can lead to overuse injuries like tendonitis or stress fractures. Listen to your body and respect its limits.
Cross-Train and Rest Days
Incorporate cross-training activities, such as swimming, yoga, or strength training, into your weekly routine. Cross-training helps prevent overuse injuries and provides your cycling muscles with a much-needed break. Don’t forget to include rest days in your schedule to allow for proper recovery and tissue repair.
Proper Nutrition and Hydration
Maintaining proper nutrition and hydration is crucial for sustained cycling performance and injury prevention. Consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients to support your energy needs. Stay hydrated throughout your rides, especially on hot days, to prevent muscle cramps and fatigue.
Don’t ignore aches and pains
Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain during and after your rides. Ignoring persistent pain can lead to more severe injuries in the long run as well as ruin your enjoyment of cycling. Never ignore these symptoms particularly if they’re not going away and ruining your enjoyment of riding.
Cycling is a repetitive activity with your body in a flexed position. This can overload the low back and neck in particular but knee and shoulder pain are also common for regular cyclists. If you’re finding this is the case, please don’t ignore it or let it stop you cycling. A great Sports Massage can resolve many of these issues especially from a therapist who understands the demands of cycling.
Whether you’re a casual cyclist riding at weekends or commuting to work or if you ride at a more competitive level, riding should be pain free and enjoyable. If you’re finding that it’s not, book in with us or contact us and start your journey to pain free cycling. (NB Hills will always hurt…)
Kit Liu; Sports Massage Therapist
Bike specific training in bike fitting (SICI Advanced Bike Fit Certificate; SICI Personalized Bike Fit Certificate; SICI Advanced Triathlon Bike Fit Certificate)
Member of the Medical Team working with the Hong Kong Cycling team competing at the 2014 Asian Games. The team came away with 8 medals including 2 Golds.