Having invested in a bike, equipment and suitable clothing, the last thing you want is to leave it in the garage or hallway while you recover from injury. Yet, this is a common experience for riders who are relatively new to the sport.
Why does this happen? The two most common causes are over-exertion, or to be more charitable over-ambition, and poor posture or technique. All this is the result of simple enthusiasm.
Once you get moving on two wheels, you just can’t get enough of it. An understandable reaction, but this enthusiasm has to be tempered by the reality that your body simply doesn’t like to be rushed; rather it likes to ease into new activities at its own pace, and no amount of cajoling is going to change that. Rather it will have a detrimental effect.
Tiredness can also lead to postural or technical problems as both mind and body begin to lose discipline. But if such problems are manifesting from day one, they will, by themselves, begin to cause stress on muscles and joints that will lead to injury.
So what should the newbie be on the alert for, and how can they prevent it happening? Let’s start with saddle sores. Far from being the preserve of cowpokes riding the range, a poor riding position and inadequate clothing can result in a range of problems such as bruising and chafing.
As well as addressing the aforementioned problems, applying some petroleum jelly to your more sensitive areas prior to riding should at the very least minimise any discomfort.
Stress to the neck, shoulders, back, knees and shins can all occur due to either over-exertion or postural problems. As with all issues related to over-doing it, quite simply don’t.
You need to build both strength and stamina. A weight-training schedule drawn up by an instructor at the local gym should also help to concentrate on building the vital muscle groups.
The first step in addressing problems associated with your riding profile, or posture, is to ask a friend to observe you on the bike. They may quickly be able to identify where the problems are.
Alternatively seek advice at your local cycling club, who may even be able to use hand-held video footage to film you and take you through your faults step by step.
Inadequate clothing can not only cause saddle sores. Foot pain can result from wearing footwear with thin soles, so invest in a pair of cycling shoes or at the very least wear trainers with good cushioning properties.
The advice of your GP
If problems do arise, on no account continue cycling in the hope that the pain or niggle will go away. In most cases it won’t; rather it will get worse. Seek the advice of your local GP, and if required book a consultation with a physiotherapist. Once you are on the road to recovery, beware of attempting to rush back into the saddle to quickly.
Allow your body the recovery time it needs and ensure that the problems that caused the injury in the first place have been identified and the appropriate adjustments to your schedule or technique put in place.