Five common points of pain for cyclists are back, hip, knee, neck, and hand pain. Muscle soreness happens to veteran cyclists as well as the “weekend warriors.” It’s a matter of degree of pain. Just because you aren’t sore, doesn’t mean you aren’t getting stronger.
Letting your muscles catch up and avoiding damage and fatigue is a better way to deal with soreness. You shouldn’t depend on anti-inflammatory drugs or other pain relievers because they just mask the damage. Check out the five common points of pain:
Try to keep your back straight when cycling, and even when you lean forward, avoid arching your back. Lower back muscles are utilized and strengthened by bicycling, and become even stronger when you are riding uphill or over rough terrain, because they are relied on more to help you keep your balance.
Why back pain?
From fatigue, age-related wear and tear, poor bike fit and a weak core can cause pain and strain.
Back pain fixes:
Perform plank exercises to strengthen your core. Stretch your hamstrings. Check your bike fit to see that you are not overreaching, keeping in mind that over the years your riding position may need to change due to decreased flexibility.
Why hip pain?
Pushing excessively high gears can wreak havoc on your hips, as can tight muscles and weak glutes.
Hip pain fixes:
Gear back and increase your cadence to take pressure off your hips. Strengthen your glutes. Doing the pigeon yoga pose, where one leg is bent 90 degrees in front of you and the other is extended behind you is a good glute exercise. Single leg bridges also help. Just lie on your back with both legs bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it while you raise your lower back and butt.
Why knee pain?
Achy knees are usually a result of incorrect saddle and/or cleat position, weak outer glutes, and doing too much too soon, especially in a big gear. Knees shouldn’t be pointing out while pedaling – if so, the seat is too low.
Knee pain fixes:
Strengthen your outer glutes with lateral leg exercises like side lunges and side leg raises. Stretch, stretch, stretch your quads and hamstrings. Roll your IT bands with a foam roller.
Why neck pain?
Over-reaching causes tension through your shoulders and upper back thus tightening the neck muscles. Having your head cocked too forward and down creates the dreaded “cell phone” effect that chiropractors see more and more of. It’s not a natural position for the head and neck.
Neck pain fixes:
Relax your shoulders when you ride. You might have to remind yourself over and over to relax. Check the handlebars – when you look at the front wheel with your hands on the bars, the bar should obstruct your view of the hub. You might need an extension piece put on the bar so as not to over-reach.
Why hand pain?
Excess pressure on nerves in your hand can cause numb, tingly fingers and pain in your wrists. You may have too much weight on your hands or have your wrists cocked at too extreme an angle.
Hand pain fixes:
Numbness of the fingers can be a potentially dangerous symptom, one of the problems that can result from bad upper body posture on the bike. Wear lightly padded gloves. Hold the bar with our wrists in a neutral position (like you are shaking someone’s hand). The wrist should stay as much as possible in line with the arms. Check that the front of your seat is not pointing down thus shifting your weight forward and onto your hands.
Instead of depending on anti-inflammatory drugs to get past the soreness, try our transdermal magnesium cream. Rub the cream directly on the sore muscle and let the magnesium due its work. Magnesium is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been documented to help people who participate in high-intensity aerobic activities to put back the magnesium that is lost due to excessive sweating.