After a long winter, there’s almost an urgent need to get back on the bike and log some sunny miles. However, there’s always a tendency to overdo it on the first few happy excursions, and early season cycling injuries can mean time off the bike when it’s the only place you want to be.
Here’s our guide to diagnosing common cycling injuries, and our suggestions for how to mitgate or fix them. As you might expect, it’s important to note that this guide can give you pointers, but that it’s still necessary to see a professional bike fitter at your local Live to Play Sports dealer for more information.
Knees are a very common injury area in early-season riding, so much so that the term ‘spring knee’ is used to describe the symptoms of patellar tendonitis. Patellar tendonitis refers to the inflammation of the tendon attaching your kneecap to your shin bone. Tendonosis (the degeneration of the tendon) can also be a factor, though this usually requires longer-term rehabilitation. The most common cause of early-season knee pain is overuse of the knee joint after a decrease in cycling activity over the winter. (cyclingweekly.com)
The first step is to ensure that your bike is fitting correctly. The most accurate way to do this is to visit a bike fitter, of course. If you need a quick fix before taking that step, consider that saddle height is easy to change and can make a big difference. Ideal saddle height will have your leg at approximately 30 degrees of deflection at the lowest point in the pedal stroke. The quickest way to ensure you’re in this range is to check that your seat height is sufficient to give you FULL leg extension when pedalling with your heels, so that when the ball of your foot is on the pedal, you have a comfortable bend in your knee.
The second step is to pedal at a higher cadence, and in an easier gear than previously. This will reduce stress on your knee.
Numb hands are remarkably common and the solution is reasonably simple, which is important because the symptoms of hand numbness can go from annoying to dangerous really quickly if it causes the rider to lose braking control. The most common cause of hand numbness is compression of the ulnar nerve, which runs up the wrist and across the palm. Pressure on this nerve (from poorly fitted grips or bars) cuts off blood flow to the fingers.
Spread the pressure of the bars out over a greater area and allow blood flow to return to your hands. Paddle-shaped grips like Ergon’s GE-1 series, or padded bar tape like Lizardskins’ 3mm DSP tape are ideal for this. You can also look into gloves with padding lower on the palm, like Endura’s Humvee gloves.
An uncomfortable saddle is statistically the most likely fit-related reason to keep a new rider off the bike. Between the immediate discomfort and the fears of long-term damage (yikes!), an uncomfortable saddle is an issue that requires an immediate solution.
First, head to our saddle fitting guides (road, mountain, or hybrid). Next, head to your local LTP Sports dealer for an in-person consultation. Based on that knowledge, choose a saddle that is fitted to you, your riding style, and your bike setup. Your local bike shop can also show you a pair of Endura’s custom-sized bibshorts, to ensure that your padded shorts are fitted to you perfectly, and guaranteeing increased comfort on the bike.
Make those pesky problems go away! Head to your local Live to Play Sports dealer to check out products like these, to ensure that every ride is helping you work towards your goals, not keeping you farther from them.