Cycling today is a recreational activity that is increasingly becoming a discipline carried out by people as a safe way to maintain a healthy body, however, there are many injuries related to this sport .
Most of the injuries that involve this discipline are manifested in the lower limb.
Outside of trauma, these are caused by a combination of factors that trigger pathologies related to pedaling mechanics directly. Inadequate preparation, that is, not doing stretching exercises prior to getting on the bike; the use of inappropriate equipment; deficiencies in technique and overuse are some of the main factors that promote pain in the rider's lower limb
There are several forms of treatment, but the most important thing is always going to be the prevention of injuries. Focusing on choosing a suitable bike that fits us, the right equipment, a correct rider position, proper training and the perfection of pedaling technique.
Position, measurements and technical data
One of the essential measures to choose a bicycle is the frame, the height of it must have a distance of 2.5 to 5cm to the groin of the cyclist for road bikes. For mountain bikes it should be 7.5 to 15 cm.
For proper mechanics and technique, the most important measure is the height of the saddle or seat. There are various measures and formulas that can be taken to adapt the seat's altitude, however, the most practical and appropriate way is as follows: riding the bicycle, the pedal is placed in the lowest position and the knee must be kept semi- flexed at 30 degrees. One of the most common mistakes is pedaling with the knee fully extended, where knee injuries are undoubtedly manifested.
The position of the pedals with respect to the legs in the pedaling phases at 3 and 9 o'clock, is as follows: an imaginary line is drawn from the knee to the foot and this must cross the front of the pedal and just in the area of support in it.
The handlebars should be placed 3 to 10 cm below the saddle for road bikes, for mountain bikes it should not exceed 5 cm. The distance from the center of the handlebar to the tip of the seat should be the same distance that we have from the tip of the elbow to the tip of the third finger.
The pedal crank determines the effort and effectiveness in each revolution generated by the hip and knee. The larger it is, the more effort will be exerted on these joints, however the pedaling will be more effective. This distance is obtained with a formula, where we must measure the distance from the floor to the greater Trochanter (hip bone) and multiply it by 0.185.
The foot with respect to the pedal, must always be supported on its anterior part, that is, in the area of the head of the metatarsals (front ball of the foot) and you should always try to keep the ankle at 90 degrees during pedaling.
Stretching is essential in cyclists, there is a tendency to muscle shortening of the gastrocnemius-soleus complex (calf) and of the hamstring or hamstrings (posterior thigh). The posterior chain of the leg is the one that we must give more importance to avoid this phenomenon, however, the quadriceps must also stretch.
Pedaling cadence is the number of times the pedal makes a 360º turn in one minute. A cadence of 70 to 80 RPM must be maintained. A lower cadence tells us that a lot of effort is being applied to pedaling and can result in potential injury.
Injuries associated with cycling sports
Cyclist's knee (patello-femoral syndrome) .- presented in 40% to 60% of both professional and recreational cyclists. An increase in pressure between the patella and the femur or problems with its alignment. He Mountain biking, steep slopes, a very low cadence for example, can generate greater friction between both bones and result in cartilaginous injury (chondromalacia). Patellar alignment problems are usually preceded by hypotrophy and decreased strength in the vastus medialis muscle. Also, an inadequate pedaling technique can simulate these joint alignment defects.
This and other pathologies such as patellar and quadriceps tendonitis, iliotibial band syndrome, hip bursitis and goose foot tendonitis, inflammation and fibrosis of synovial plicae, trochanteric bursitis, iliopsoas tendonitis, tibial periostitis, stress fractures, syndrome transient compartment, Achilles tendinitis, Plantar fasciitis, compression neuritis, metatarsalgia, have a direct relationship and higher incidence in cyclists. We will periodically publish each pathology as it deals with very deep issues.
The practice of Cycling is extremely healthy and relaxing, the urban cycling as a means of transport it is ecological and saves time. Avoid cycling injuries by following these guidelines, and enjoy pedaling!
Dr. Alejandro Abner Barragán López Medical Coordinator Sports Clinic
Specialist and Subspecialist in: Orthopedics-Arthroscopy-Sports Surgery.
Graduated from La Salle University, Mexican School of Medicine.