Health issues come with any sport or hobby, but there are many that are unique to cyclists. Yes, these can be debilitating if they are not dealt with, but with proper treatment and care you can be back on your bike soon. Below are tips for treating common health issues that inflict themselves on cyclists.
The usual cause of hand pain in cyclists is called ulnar neuropathy. This condition causes a numbness or tingling sensation in the hands, commonly in the little and ring ﬁnger, and often comes about after long rides where you’ve been keeping your hands in the same position for extended periods of time. It’s not just caused by the pressure from your weight but also the transmission of road ‘buzz’ and vibration through the bars.
If you suffer from this, the ﬁrst thing to address is your riding position to take pressure off your hands and redistribute your body weight more appropriately. The problem can also be lessened by wearing gloves with gel padding over the ulnar area, plus there are many good padded bar tapes available. There are even systems that put extra foam or gel padding along the bar tops under the tape to cushion the contact area.
‘Wallet Syndrome’, also known as Piriformis Syndrome, this is often caused by over-training and speciﬁcally by overworking the gluteus-maximus muscles in your rear. The Piriformis itself is a small muscle that rotates the leg outwards. As this isn’t a movement that cyclists need to do much, the muscle can shorten and weaken. If over-stressed, it can build in size to the point of putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain or numbness down the leg or in the hip – which is why it’s a common cause of sciatica.
If this injury has been caused by an imbalance between muscles, where the underused Piriformis becomes weak, the solution is fairly simple. By strengthening it, the tightness will ease off and often the pain will disappear too. Pilates, yoga, and other stretches can help you strengthen your Piriformis.
All too common – and all too hard to diagnose, since the knee is a complex creature. Meniscus tears, and damage to the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, are rarely caused by cycling – but it could still happen. One of the most common cyclist knee complaints is pain in the kneecap. where the under surface of the patella becomes inﬂamed, usually because tightness or weakness in associated muscles moves the kneecap in a way it shouldn’t as you pedal. If the kneecap rubs on the bones behind it, this can irritate and inﬂame the cartilage at the back of the cap.
One of the most common fundamental causes of lower body and knee pain in cyclists is actually a small muscle on the outside of the hip called the posterior gluteus-medius. This muscle is quite important for stabilizing your hip and preventing your knees rolling inwards, and when weakened by an over-tight IT band can be the cause of many painful problems, including medial knee pain, anterior knee pain and even lower back pain.
If the knee pain is acute, the ﬁrst course of action is to apply what the experts call RICE — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation — and then get yourself to an expert, stat!