Unfortunately bicycling and pain are not strangers to each other. Riding a bicycle is an intense physical activity. It can put a lot of stress on major body parts and systems, mainly on your muscles. Here are common complaints and how to avoid bicycling and pain – from your neck to your feet:
Bicycling and Pain – Neck Pain
|Bike that is too long||Choose the right bicycle size||See the article about bicycle sizing|
|Bicycle handlebars are too low||Raise the handlebars. Use the right handlebars and stem||By doing this you will not have to bend too much forward|
|Improper Riding Position (Posture)||Change Your Posture on the Bike||The more flexed a posture you adopt on the bike, the more extension is required from the neck. To support that – the neck muscles may tighten. That may lead to neck muscle pain or to fatigue.|
|Poor helmet adjustment (leads to poor cycling posture).||Make sure that your helmet is properly fitted for your riding style.||Helmet that is too low in front might block the view, and force you to tilt the head upward to keep the helmet from blocking the view forward.|
|Poorly fitted eyeglasses||Wear biking sunglasses that perfectly fits to your face||If your sunglasses are sliding down your nose, you will have to tilt your head up higher to be able to look through the glasses.|
Bicycling and Pain – Shoulders Pain
|Saddle angle too low in front||Adjust your saddle angle: Raise its front.||This tends to make you slide forward as you ride, and you end up using your hands to push yourself back into position on the saddle.|
|Asymmetry body (one arm is longer than the other)||Slightly skew the handlebars.|
|Top Tube too long||Choose the proper bicycle frame size||Bicycle that is too long will force your arms to be stretched forward. By this your arms will not function as “shock absorbers”|
Bicycling and Pain – Back Pain
|Incorrect bicycling posture.||Correct cycling posture||Proper posture is one that not only allow and efficient pedaling, but also eliminate short and long term injuries and pain.|
|Core muscles are not strong enough||Strengthen your core muscles||When our core muscles are not strong enough our back have to carry the load, causing excessive back pain.|
Bicycling and Pain – Numbness or Soar Hands, or Wrists Pain
|Riding without gloves||Ride with bicycling gloves!||Don’t ride bare handed. Riding with cycling gloves has many advantages. Please visit my page about bicycling gloves|
|Wearing unpadded gloves||Wear padded bicycling gloves||Use padded bicycling gloves provides cushioning (such as the Pearl Izumi Gel Lite Glove.|
|Using improper handlebar grips||Use ergonomically optimized bar ends||Once I’ve tried an ergonomically handlebars grips I can’t move back to conventional one’s. I am using the Ergon GC2 Race Grip.|
|Improper hand positions on the bicycle handlebars||Ride with your elbows slightly bent, not straight or locked||Bent elbows will act as shock absorbers and help absorb the road bumps.|
|Saddle angle too low in front||Raise the saddle’s nose||This tends to make you slide forward as you ride, and you wind up using your hands to push yourself back into position. See also information about “shoulders pain”|
|Excessive pressure on the hands “valley”||Avoid excessive pressure on the hands “valley”||Make sure are holding your handlebars correctly. Incorrect holding posture may lead to excessive pressure on the nerves, and to injury.|
|Excessive gloves padding||Use bicycling gloves that have the right amount of padding||Ironically, instead of preventing pain, wearing bicycling gloves with too much padding may lead to excessive pressure on the hands nerves, and to pain.|
|Incorrect wrist position||Change wrist position (its not that easy to do)||Hands that are bent too much upward may causing long term hands and fingers numbness (it took about two years for a friend of mine to recover from this injury!).|
|Holding the handlebars too tight||Hold your bicycle handlebars with less pressure||During long rides shake your hands periodically (one at a time…). Change your holding position. Get of the bikes from time to time. Take a rest.|
Bicycling and Pain – Saddle Sores
|Saddle that does not fit you correctly||Use the best bicycle seat that is both comfortable and fits you properly.||A saddle that is too narrow, too wide, too soft, too hard, has unfitted width or unfitted shape can be a real cause for bicycle saddle sores.
Be aware: Long ridings are quite demanding on a small saddle. It can cause pain, and increase (in rare cases) the risk of biking impotence.
|Unpadded bicycle riding shorts||Use padded bicycling shorts or biking pants||Improper cycling shorts may cause chaffing. Take the time to find the bicycling shorts that works best for you.|
|Improper seating position||Change your seating position periodically||Also try to change the saddle height, tile and forward / aft position.|
|Too many hours on the saddle||Start with short rides, and gradually to increase your cycling distances||It is also recommended to stop the ride occasionally|
Bicycling and Pain – Chafing on the Inner Thighs
|A saddle that is too wide||Select a narrower saddle||Longer rides on an in-appropriate saddle, especially during hot weather may cause painful chafing on the inner thighs.|
|Saddles with excessive foam/gel||Use a bicycle seat with less gel||The best bicycle seat for preventing chafing is a traditional leather saddle.|
|Improper cycling shorts||Wearing proper bicycling shorts||Beware that shorts with excessive padding can make things worse!|
Bicycling and Pain – Knee Pain
|Wrong (usually too high) gear selection||Select a different (lower) gear||With a too high gear there is an over stress on the knee.
Try to use a gear that allows you to pedal quickly, from 70 to 100 strokes per minute.
|Incorrect Saddle placement||Adjust the saddle height, tilt and forward/back position||A saddle that is too high will cause the knee of the down leg to extend beyond the optimal 170 degrees angle, potentially causing pain in the back of the knee.|
|Incorrect placement of the bike riding shoes cleats||Adjust the cleats so as to permit your foot to be at its natural angle, use cleats that allows foot rotation or ride without cleats.||The lower leg twist resulted from misadjusted cleats will affect the alignment of the knee joint, and cause serious problems! Unfortunately I have my own experience with this (see my Rhine River Tour)|
|Cranks are too long||Use the proper crank length||Riding with too long cranks forces the knees to flex farther. This may cause problems such as knee pain.|
Bicycling and Pain – Leg Muscle Pain
|Over load on your leg muscles||Try to change your cycling speed (shift to a “lower” gear)||The cause for such muscle pain is the accumulation of “waste products” such as lactic acid in the muscle.|
|Insufficient hydration||Balance the lost salts: drink isotonic water drinks, consume salt capsules.||Salt is necessary for the proper functioning of the body: beyond the direct effect on cardiac function and normal muscle contraction, Shortages in salty elements may well cause pain and fatigue in the legs muscles|
Bicycling and Pain – Foot and Ancles Pain
|Inappropriate (usually too tight) bike riding shoes||Wear wider shoes, especially with a wider front||Buying shoes towards the end of the day when feet are most swollen might be a good idea.|
|Riding in soft-soled shoes (may cause ankles pain)||Wear rigid soled bike riding shoes||The ball of the foot is more capable to carry the pedaling load, more than the arch is. However, without wearing rigid-soled shoes this may become an issue, especially on long rides.|
|Inappropriate bicycling socks||Use appropriate socks||Thin bony feet may need thicker socks for padding the ball of the foot.
Bigger feet may benefit from thinner socks and more room.
|Insufficient foot ventilation (may cause foot overheat)||Wear cycling sandals||Cycling sandals have come and have decided to stay. During warm months, cycling shoes just don’t cut in.|
|Cleats set too far forward (may cause ankles pain)||Move the cleat backward||The farther forward the contact between the foot and the pedal, the greater the stress on the Achilles tendons.|
|Bent pedal or crank, causing the foot to wobble back and forth as the pedals turn||Fix the bent bicycle pedals and the bent bicycle crank|
|Saddle set too high (may cause ankles pain)||Lower the saddle||Saddle that is too high forces the cyclist to point the toes excessively to reach the bottom of the pedal swing, potentially causing ankle pain.|
|Flat-footed (may cause ankles pain)||Use orthotic shoe inserts.|
Bicycling and Pain – List of All Articles
Back Pain from Cycling – A back pain from cycling is one thing you did not expect from today’s wonderful bicycle ride. Back pain is another quite common type of pain resulting from bicycle riding. Read more.
Bicycling Knee Pain – Bicycling knee pain is the most common cycling pain. Biking might put pressure on many parts of the body. Here’s how to handle biking pain.
Leg Muscle Pain – If you experience from time to time a leg muscle pain or muscle contraction during your bike rides you’re not alone – many other riders feel the same. Let’s make some order here and try to explain exactly what happens when we suffer from leg muscle pain or from muscle contraction.
Neck Muscle Pain – Many cyclists are complaining about shoulders and neck muscle pain during and after the ride, although these parts of the body does not take a major role in the cycling activity.
Neck Shoulder Back Pain – Neck shoulder back pain is a common problem for cyclists that have just started out, especially when they decide to push themselves to the limit without first knowing how to cycle properly. Read more about how to avoid neck muscle pain.
Bicycle Saddle Sores – Have you ever set down with friends, trying to explain to them that the reason for your sudden unrest while sitting on the sofa is yesterday’s bike trip? Many cyclists suffer from bicycle saddle sores during and after a long ride. In the bicycle forums you can find many questions about saddle sores and how to solve saddle sores. Find here all the answers.
Tip: Warming up is essential to preventing cycling pain
The most important tip for preventing cycling-related aches and pains is to warm-up regularly.
You can have perfect cycling posture, a well-fitted bicycle and all the best cycling equipment in the world, but if you don’t get some blood into your muscles before you cycle, you’re going to end up with some painful cramps.
Take the time to stretch all your muscles before you cycle and you’ll enjoy a painless ride.
Books about Cycling Pain
For more information, there are some informative books about cycling pain. You can find them on several online book stores.
Each time you suffer from neck muscle pain, leg muscle pain, bicycling knee pain, bicycle saddle sores or any other pain which is related to bicycle riding, there are several actions that you can take to ease the pain, or even to prevent it. If you have a severe pain it is always best to consult a doctor. With pain related to bike riding you should consult a doctor who is specializing in bicycling and pain.