cycling utah June 2000


Learn how to prevent injuries

By J.R. Smith

Injury prevention is not as difficult as it sounds and is instrumental in improving the quality of your riding or racing.

Consider it a part of your training process. It should include the following:

Warming up. This is critical. By increasing breathing rate, heart rate, and muscle temperature to exercise level, it helps reduce the risk of muscle pulls and strains.

Warm ups also assists in increasing the shock absorbing capabilities of joints.

Plus it prepares the rider mentally for the ride or race.

Cooling down. There should be a gradual reduction of activity to facilitate the dissipation of waste products associated with muscular activity.

It also assists the rider to experience less discomfort which results in the ability to function at higher levels during the next ride or workout.

Injuries and Prevention

If you should encounter neck or shoulder pain, try to vary your riding position frequently, move your head from side to side. Keep elbows bent to absorb road shock. And be sure to have the correct handlebar stem length and height.

For lower back pain make sure you are properly fitted to your bicycle. If necessary, raise the stem. Also try to develop abdominal and back extensor muscles through exercise and weight training.

Every cyclist will eventually encounter saddle sores. The treatment is simple: Cleanliness. Wash your cycling shorts in mild detergent after every ride. Be sure you have the correct saddle height and change your position on the frequently.

Some notes on bicycle seats. Recent studies indicate that male riders may need increased padding or saddle relief (cutout) in the front portion of saddle to minimize blood vessel supply problems.

Female riders tend to have a wider pelvic structure and may need a shorter and slightly wider saddle to be comfortable and to eliminate chafing.

If you experience knee pain, increase mileage and intensity only about 10% per week. Learn to spin a smaller gear ( at least 90 rpm's).

Make sure you have the proper saddle height and proper cleat position ( both forward/aft and directional).

Prior to and after riding, stretch your hamstrings.

Emergency Treatment

Within first 24-48 hours of injury:

R = Rest. Length of time depends on severity of injury. After prolonged rest rehab may be necessary before returning to cycling.

I = Ice. Place ice (preferably crushed) in a plastic bag over a towel on injured part. Hold in place for 20-30 minutes at a time. Repeat approx. every two hours.

C = Compression. Apply pressure to injured area but not so tightly as to impair circulation.

E = Elevation. Prop body part above level of heart if possible.

Do most of the first part of this article and avoid the latter.

Make cycling fun and injury free.

J.R. Smith is a licensed U.S.A. Cycling Elite Coach, Category 2 Official and Masters racer. He has been involved in cycling for approximately 20 years and has worked with previous U.S. National Team members and National Champions as well as managing a professional women's cycling team. He also has instructed at Bicycling magazine and Olympic Training Center cycling camps. He presently operates a consulting business and performs services for coaching, bike fit, body composition analysis, and performance testing. He can be contacted at (801) 944-2456 or via e-mail at [email protected]

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