Most common cycling injuries:
The most common cycling injuries sustained from overuse are iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and lower back pain (LBP). What are they?
ITB syndrome is perhaps more common with runners, however, it is also associated with cyclists. The ITB is a tendinous connective tissue that runs down the outside of your thigh. This condition is usually characterised by pain located around the outside of your knee where the band runs over the bony prominence of the femur. Pain usually occurs during exercise and gradually worsens until you are forced to stop. As well as overuse, a number of other factors such as, muscle imbalance and cycling posture can contribute to ITB syndrome. If you are unsure whether you have the correct or incorrect posture and muscle imbalance, you can get assessed by a local Physiotherapist.
PFPS is described as an aching sensation around the knee joint, most commonly found on the front of the knee – either behind or at the bottom of the patella (knee cap). Quite often, you can experience pain when palpating the medial border of the patella. Symptoms are usually provoked by long periods of walking, sitting with your leg bent and ascending or descending stairs. If you have any of these symptoms, book an initial assessment with a Physiotherapist and have your body examined. They will work out what the problem is and why is occurs – making sure a reoccurrence doesn’t happen.
Acute/traumatic injuries sustained are most commonly fractures, acromio-clavicular (AC) joint sprains or rotator cuff strains/tears. What are they?
AC joint sprains are usually caused by falling onto your outstretched arm. With these types of injuries, the pain is initially more widespread around the shoulder, however, this becomes more localised to the end of the collarbone and there is often swelling around this area. Also, depending on the extent of the injury, a deformity may be noticeable at the top of your shoulder joint/ end of the collarbone. With this injury, pain usually increases when performing overhead activities.
Rotator cuff injuries are caused by over stretching/rapid twisting of the joint, characterised by a sudden onset of pain in the shoulder region and on occasions, the pain may radiate down the arm of the affected side. Again, with this type of injury, pain is increased through overhead movements and activities. On most occasions the pain gradually worsens over time, leading to restriction in movements and a loss of muscular strength.
Treatment for common cycling injuries
Any pain, swelling and reduction in movement and function will require some treatment. Initially, for any of the above injuries, the RICE format (rest, ice, compression, elevation) should be applied for the first 48-72 hours post injury. Following on from this, Physiotherapy is always encouraged. Operations and medication should always be a last port of call as both are unnatural forms of healing.
The aim of Physiotherapy is to reduce pain, accelerate the healing process, and restore normal movement and function to achieve your rehabilitation goal. Your Physiotherapist will provide you with a home exercise programme and expert advice to aid rehabilitation. In addition, there are various other treatment options available depending on your injury, such as, acupuncture, electrotherapy, soft tissue techniques, taping/strapping and joint mobilisations.
If you are unsure about an injury you have suffered from cycling, please use our FREE Ask-A-Physio service on our website at www.physiofusion.co.uk
OR, if you prefer, call us at any of our clinics on 01282 453 110 where we’d be happy to help!
Read more common cycling injuries from Cycling Weekly.