Common cyclists' injuries
Saddle sores, sore knees, broken bones and gravel rash are typical cycling injuries. This article explains some of the problems and possible ways to avoid them.
How to avoid and treat: saddle sores
1 Wear a clean pair of shorts every time you ride, as sweat and dirt can cause infection. If you ride off road a lot, or even on road in the rain, your may need to 'double wash' your shorts to get all the dirt and grime out. If you ride your bike every day it's worth having at least two pairs of shorts, so you can ride in one pair while the other pair is being washed and dried.
Thin Lycra is not renowned for its protective properties!
2 Make sure your shorts fit well and are good quality - if they are too tight or too baggy, this can cause chafing.
3 Use a cream on your crutch to help prevent sores. It's better to put the cream directly to your crutch, rather than placing it on the chamois, as you can put where it is needed and it is less wasteful. Use a baby nappy rash cream for this (such as Sudacrem), it's kind to your skin and it's easier to wash out after use.
4 For bad sores you may need to go to your doctor to get something stronger. If you race though, do check that there is nothing in the cream that will make you fail a dope test (such as pain-killing cortisone). The BCF Handbook lists the banned substances, take it along to your doctor or pharmacist so that they can check the medical and chemical names for you.
Make sure your bike shorts fit well to avoid sores
5 Poor position on the bike or the wrong saddle choice won't help either, so seek advice from a bike shop or a coach.
How to avoid sore knees
1 Poor position on the bike can cause knee problems, usually it's due to having your saddle set too high or too low.
2 Poor shoe cleat position and type of pedal may also cause knee problems. Some of clipless pedals do not allow your feet to move around. If your cleats are mis-positioned they will hold your feet in an unnatural plane and cause strain. However, many 'clipless' pedals now allow some degrees of 'float' or free movement to enable you to find your natural foot position. If you have any problems, do get some advice form a coach, bike shop, experienced rider or even a podiatrist.
3 Damaged or worn equipment can also cause problems. If ever you crash, pedals and cranks can easily get bent, so get them checked for damage and straightness afterwards.
4 Over use and cold weather can cause inflammation such as tendonitis. Build up your time on the bike progressively and remember to include plenty of rest and recovery. Do keep your knees protected from the cold. Wear cycling tights or knee-warmers in all but the warmest weather.
How to avoid broken bones
The two most common rider breaks are collarbones and wrists
1 Most breakages are caused by how you fall off. Endeavour to roll as you fall and keep your hands and arms high around your head to keep them out of the way. A normal break will take 4 to 6 weeks to heal. Hope you like turbo training!
How to avoid gravel rash
1 Wear an undervest. This will protect your upper body a little. Your outer jersey may stick to the ground and the undervest will slide over that. Without a vest it will be your skin sliding over your jersey!
2 Wear gloves or track mitts. Your hands are quite likely to hit the deck in the event of a fall. This will make holding the handlebars extremely painful and your painful and your may not be able to finish your ride or race.
3 As for your arms, legs, knees and hips, in a race these are normally unprotected, so if you fall it is inevitable that you're going to get gravel rash on these parts. In such cases, all the dirt needs to be cleaned out of the wound to prevent infection - you may need medical help to do this properly.