Like all activities engaged in regularly, cycling has its share of common ailments and injuries. Many of the overuse injuries result from attempting to do too much, too soon. Poor riding technique, and improper frame fit for the individual may also cause injuries. Riding too many miles or tackling too many hills in too high a gear will stress the musculoskeletal system, especially at the start of the cycling season.
Knee pain is the most common complaint and is usually related to the tracking of the kneecap, or “patella” in the mid-groove of the thigh bone or “femur.” The symptoms of “biker’s knee,” also known as “patellofemoral pain syndrome,” usually result from a combination of malalignment of the extensor mechanism of the knee, muscle imbalance, and improper set-up on the bike. Each cyclist presents with differences in biomechanics (flat pronated feet, bow legs, etc.) and muscle conditioning (strength and flexibility) that can predispose to this condition. It is important to avoid riding with high pedal resistance at a low cadence as this puts excessive pressure across the knee joint. The rule of the road is “if the knees hurt gear down.”
Some common riding errors are riding with the saddle too low or too far forward and poor foot position or improper cleat adjustment. This can lead to other musculoskeletal injuries such as neck problems, or Achilles tendinitis.
We must not forget that traumatic injuries can occur when we least expect it. Wear an approved bicycle helmet at all times while cycling. Remember to replace your helmet if you are involved in a bike crash while wearing it. It will likely not perform for you the second time.
Gloria Cohen, MD is a specialist in non-operative sports medicine. She is a primary care team physician for the Columbia University varsity athletic teams and lecturer in the Department of Orthopaedics at Columbia University and served as team physician to the Canadian National Olympic Cycling Team for 14 years and was a member of the Canadian Medical Team for the Olympic Games in Seoul, Atlanta, and Sydney. She travels regularly with the Columbia University varsity football team, the Lions and is recognized as an authority in sports medicine in the United States and Canada.
Dr. Cohen believes in taking an integrative approach to medical management by considering a patients’ bio-mechanics, cardio-vascular and pulmonary function as it relates to athletic performance. Dr. Cohen is a successful competitive runner who has qualified twice for the New York Marathon. She is also an off-road and road cyclist and will be a featured speaker at Cycle Strong! A Sports Conditioning and Injury Prevention Workshop for Cycling Enthusiasts! This event is presented by ONS Foundation for Clinical Research, Inc. and sponsored by the North Castle Library, Armonk. For more information visit the ONS Foundation website.
Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists, PC (ONS) physicians provide expertise in the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, sports medicine, minimally invasive orthopedic, spine and brain surgery, joint replacement and trauma. The main office is located at 6 Greenwich Office Park on Valley Road, Greenwich, CT. For more information, visit http://onsmd.com/ or call 203.869.1145.