It’s time to take a look at some cycling injuries!
The 2018 UCI Road World Championships get under way this Sunday with our very own British team aiming for glory. Simon Yates, fresh off a victory in the Vuelta a Espana will be at the forefront of the mean’s team along with his twin brother Adam as the likes of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome won’t be taking part.
Meanwhile Dani Rowe, commonwealth bronze medallist, and time trial bronze medallists Alice Barnes and Hayley Simmonds will feature for the women’s team.
This time around the event is taking place in Innsbruck, Austria as Team GB aim to get amongst the elite out on the road. Here’s the full team….
Women’s road race: Hannah Barnes, Dani Christmas, Alice Cobb, Anna Henderson, Dani Rowe, Sophie Wright.
Women’s time trial: Alice Barnes, Hayley Simmonds.
Men’s road race: Hugh Carthy, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pete Kennaugh, James Knox, Ian Stannard, Connor Swift, Adam Yates, Simon Yates.
Men’s time trial: Alex Dowsett, Tao Geoghagen Hart.
You can catch all the action on the BBC from the 23rd to the 30th of September!
No doubt the championships will have all of you back out there burning some rubber of your own, so here’s some injuries to look out for while you’re out there working up a sweat.
Not only that, we’ll tell you how you might be able to prevent them before they happen, or if you’re unlucky, how to treat them should they occur!
Let’s not waste any more time…
Top 5 Cycling Injuries
What is it?
Achilles Tendinopathy is commonly known as Achilles Tendonitis. Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse condition that usually occurs during the running stage of the Triathlon. Typically it comes on gradually, and is more common in those aged over 40. The pain is located around the back of the heel and just above. This pain is worsened by activity, and the focal areas of tendon degeneration often feels tender to touch. Often the tendon feels very stiff first thing in the morning and the affected tendon may appear thickened in comparison to the unaffected side.
How can we prevent it?
The training load should be monitored carefully as Achilles Tendinopathy is an overuse injury. The intensity, duration and frequency of training sessions have to be gradually progressed. Any sudden increases in these variables should be avoided in order to avoid overloading the Achilles Tendon. Stick to a pre-planned training schedule and be sensible regarding the level of event you are entering.
An ‘over-pronated’ foot position (where the foot rolls inwards) can put too much strain on the Achilles Tendon and lead to Achilles Tendinopathy. If there is an over-pronated foot position it is usually effective to insert an arch supporting insole to help to correct the problem.
The key to recovering from Achilles Tendinopathy is in trying to elicit a healing response by loading the tendon gradually without overloading it. Published research has suggested that recovery is optimised by using a programme which uses ‘eccentric muscle work’. Eccentric muscle work refers to a muscle that is lengthening while contracting – a contraction that occurs during movements such as landing and decelerating. Maximal tension is generated in the muscle during the eccentric contraction and when this is done in a gradually progressive manner, it causes the tendon to adapt and get stronger.
The Aircast AirHeel(below) can be very effective in relieving the heel pain symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy. The Aircast AirHeel applies compression to the heel and the arch of the foot which relieves strain on the Achilles Tendon. This can give rapid relief to those suffering with Achilles Tendinopathy and heel pain.
We have a massive range of ankle supports available here at PhysioRoom.com, take a look at our ankle supports.
Low Back Pain
What is it?
Repeated overuse and prolonged bending during cycling can lead to low back pain. A flexed posture while on the bike can lead to degeneration of the outer layer of the disc, which allows the gel-like centre of the disc to prolapse out. This is known as a Herniated Disc. This presses against structures in the back and can cause back pain and even pain down the back of the legs, which is known as Sciatica.
How can you prevent it?
It’s important that the bike is comfortable, with a correct set up. If the frame is too big then over reaching for the handlebars can lead to low back pain. Being hunched up on a frame that is too small can also lead to lower back pain.
Research has shown that specific back exercises, known as core strength and stability exercises, can help to prevent low back pain. More advanced core strength exercises using Swiss Balls can then be used to relieve and prevent back pain.
Pain-relieving medication prescribed by a doctor and heat packs are usually necessary during the first few days with low back pain. Research has shown that patients with low back pain should remain as active as they possibly can, so long as their symptoms are not aggravated. A back brace can be helpful to improve posture and relieve pain by preventing aggravating movements. Browse PhysioRoom and find great quality back supports.
IT Band Syndrome/Knee Pain
What is it?
It may sound strange but Runner’s Knee is the most common knee injury in cyclists. Runner’s Knee is the common term for Ilio Tibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBFS). Runner’s Knee is a painful overuse knee injury that affects the outer part of the knee. It is fairly common in cyclists due to the repetitive nature of cycling.
During cycling, where there is repeated bending and straightening of the knee joint, the IlioTibial Band can ‘impinge’ upon the prominent outer-side of the knee and the resultant friction can lead to inflammation of the tissues.
How can you prevent it?
The most important consideration to prevent knee injury during cycling is the set-up of the bike. The frame should be the correct size, with 1″ to 2″ of clearance between the crotch and top tube of the frame. In mountain bikes, this is not normally an issue as the top tube is lower. If the saddle is too high or too low then the stresses on the knee can lead to injury. The knee shouldn’t be over extended when the pedal reaches the bottom of its revolution. Another bad habit is to point your toes inwards when cycling as it increases the risk of developing IlioTibial Band Friction Syndrome.
Physiotherapy treatment is effective for most cases of IlioTibial Band Friction Syndrome. It aims to reduce the amount of inflammation using ice therapy (never apply ice directly to the skin) and can be assisted by anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a doctor. Anti-Inflammatory gel may be more appropriate where anti-inflammatory tablets are not well tolerated. For those who want to continue to cycle a knee strap can relieve symptoms and provide support.
Broken Collar Bone
What is it?
The collar bone or Clavicle is one of the most frequently broken bones in the body. A broken collar bone (broken Clavicle) is a very common shoulder injury in mountain bikers. A broken collar bone usually occurs during a downhill section if the rider falls onto an out stretched hand. The force transmitted up the arm is often enough to cause this painful shoulder fracture.
How can you prevent it?
Try not to fall! If the front wheel comes to an abrupt halt the rider typically goes over the handlebars – this is known as an ‘Endo’. Be aware that this is more likely to happen on a descent, because you’ll be moving faster and you’re tilted forward.
Look out for rocks and tree stumps as these are the obstacles that will cause a sudden stop. Also make sure that your pedals are level with weight distributed evenly between left and right pedal, because if you’re unbalanced then you’re more likely to go over the handlebars.
Apply Ice Packs (never apply ice directly to the skin) to the shoulder for pain relief. Pain killing drugs prescribed by a doctor can provide relief for the intense shoulder pain. Any suspected fractures should be assessed and treated at hospital. A shoulder support and sling can immobilise the shoulder and provide pain relief.
Once the treating doctor is satisfied that the collar bone is sufficiently healed then shoulder range of movement exercises can be progressed to gradually increase shoulder movement. These exercises may be a little uncomfortable, but with some encouragement from a Physiotherapist this discomfort should quickly resolve as normal movement returns. Shoulder strengthening should then begin using resistance bands to regain full function.
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Cuts and Grazes
What are they?
Cuts and Grazes are damage to the skin and superficial soft tissues and are the most common injuries to occur following a fall from a road bike.
A cut or ‘laceration’ is a penetrating tear in the skin. A shallow cut will usually heal quickly without any problems, while deeper cuts may cause more serious damage to nerve tissue or larger blood vessels, which would mean that they require hospital treatment.
A graze or ‘abrasion’ occurs when the skin is scraped off. Usually this only affects a small area and the wound heals very quickly. However, large grazes that penetrate beyond the skin layers can be serious injuries, requiring input from a doctor.
How can you prevent them?
Staying on your bike and avoiding falls is the surest method of steering clear of cuts and grazes. Always maintain a balanced posture with your weight shifted back and look out for cracks or obstacles that could cause a fall.
Wearing protective padding over the elbows, hips and knees can help to reduce the extent of any cuts and grazes. Elbow pads, neoprene knee supports and base layer compression clothing can be all provide protection to prevent cuts and grazes, even if there is a fall.
Always carry a first aid kit. Any profuse bleeding, loss of sensation, or signs of infection (pain, redness, swelling) should be checked out by a doctor. If bleeding is controlled and there are no complications, then most cuts and grazes can be treated at home. The wound should be cleaned thoroughly then dressed with a sterile dressing.