As the Tour de France races through the British countryside, Emma, a #hellofitty member, asks Karen Jordan, Senior Physiotherapist at Nuffield Health to give us advice on preventing cycling injuries…
As a London cyclist, a spin class fanatic (check out Cyclebeat for the best classes in London) and triathlete, I can think of little worse than being injured. Like with all exercise there is always a risk of injury, especially when you are as competitive as I am, but in recent years physiotherapists at Nuffield Health have seen a rise in cycling related injuries often due to over-training, poor preparation or lack of recovery.
Here are some great expert advice from specialist Physiotherapist Karen Jordan on preventing cycling injuries:
Take time to build your fitness
“Build up your fitness, strength and speed at your own pace and if you’re tired take a break – you are most likely to injure yourself when you are tired. Flexibility is very important and ideally you should do some strength training e.g. some lower leg weights and balance exercises to strengthen key muscles.”
Stretching is imperative
“Stretching is the most important part of injury prevention for cyclists because of both the repetitive motion and sustained body placement involved. Cycling causes muscles in the legs to shorten and tighten as they move but do not reach full extension or flexion. In addition the upper body muscles stiffen and tighten while maintaining a bent and flexed position. It is important to stretch while your body is warm and hold each stretch for 30 to 45 seconds.”
Remember to warm up and cool down
“A thorough warm up is incredibly important in injury prevention because it prepares your body for the stresses of cycling. A good warm up elevates your heart rate and respiratory rate, warms and stretches the muscles and joints, and transports necessary oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Your warm-up should last around 5 to 10 minutes, result in a light sweat and include stretching.”
“Cooling down after a ride is often overlooked but is just as important as the warm up because it helps your body begin the recovery process. Your muscles and ligaments sustain minor tears and damage while cycling and waste products can build up in the body causing muscle and joint soreness. Slowly lower your heart rate and respiratory rate, and actively stretch the major muscles you used during a 5 to 10 minute cool down.”
Listen to your body
“Be aware of any ongoing discomfort that lasts more than a couple of days or any sharp pain, pins and needles or numbness. It’s normal to feel aches and stiffness, but this should only last up to 72 hours. Any longer than this and you should seek professional help. As a general rule, you shouldn’t have any swelling or sharp pain at any stage and you should stop whatever you’re doing straight away. If the injury is worsening or you have trouble putting weight on the affected joint, ask for further advice. For less severe injuries, revert to the tried and tested RICE method: rest, ice, compress and elevate. Although it requires a few day of rest, by tackling the injury straight away you’ll give yourself the best chance to return to full fitness.”
For more information on physiotherapy at Nuffield Health or to book an appointment click here.
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