Cycling is a popular form of transport, for both business and pleasure. It’s a fast and convenient way to navigate busy roads and get from one location to another. What’s more, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK experienced an unexpected bike boom as commuters sought to avoid public transport.
Business owners quickly caught on to cycling’s rise in popularity. They began incorporating cycling into their businesses - either to make deliveries more convenient or to encourage their staff to consider the environment in their daily commute. This increase in cycling was beautifully summed up by the BBC: “Bicycles provide a socially distance way for essential workers and commuters to get around, a healthy alternative to gyms or subways, and a new vision of city streets.”
Source: Tomi Vadász
But what is cycling doing to our health? Despite the numerous benefits of cycling on the mind and body, it can cause complications when cyclists aren’t proactive.
In this article, we share the most common cycling injuries and how to prevent them.
Head Injuries Caused by a Collision
In the UK, 83 cyclists are seriously injured in reported accidents each week. Sadly, head injuries are some of the most common injuries suffered by cyclists. Often, when we think of a head injury we picture the worst-case scenario. However, the term ‘head injury’ can cover anything from a cut on the face to a traumatic and life-threatening brain injury. So, diagnosis can vary significantly.
According to research carried out by Rospa, “although helmets cannot be expected to be effective in preventing or reducing the extent of a head injury in all scenarios, evidence does suggest that helmets are effective in reducing injuries [...] (decreasing) the risk of injury to the head and brain by 65-88%” So, wearing a helmet is imperative for the prevention of head injury whilst cycling - especially if cycling on the road or in busy areas.
If you are caught in a cycling collision and experience an injury as a result, you can make a claim. According to McCarthy & Co. Solicitors, “if something has happened to you that wasn’t your fault, you may be able to make a claim. This can include anything from accidents at work or in public places that left you injured, to incidents that occurred on holiday or road traffic accidents.” Road cycling accidents are often the fault of a reckless driver. However, if you are wearing a helmet you can be sure of protecting yourself from very serious injury.
Prolonged Back Pain
Whether you have a particularly long commute to work or you enjoy cycling for miles on the weekends, it is not uncommon to experience prolonged or severe back pain. Most cyclists who spend a long time cycling in one position will experience some degree of back pain. This can have an effect on your daily life, making it difficult to walk around or complete tasks without experiencing discomfort.
Thankfully, it is easy to reduce the likelihood of prolonged back pain if you are a cyclist. You just have to be proactive. The most important thing to do is ensure that your bicycle is set-up correctly. Not all bikes are the same. Just as with finding a comfortable pair of shoes, your bike needs to be set-up to suit your body.
Neglecting to set-up your bike properly can cause all manner of injuries - from back pain to repetitive strain. So, it is important to be proactive. Learn how to perform a basic bike fit here.
Knee Pain from Pedalling
Another common injury cyclists experience is knee pain. This is most commonly caused by the repetitive action of flexing and then extending the knee in order to pedal. For obvious reasons, pedalling is a pretty essential part of cycling, so when you experience knee pain as a result it can make getting around a challenge.
There are many reasons why you might experience knee pain whilst cycling, from bones rubbing against each other or the pinching of soft tissues to swelling, inflammation, and weak knees. According to Complete Physio, “The knee is the most commonly injured or painful joint in cyclists. There are a vast number of factors and variables that can affect the knee. The knee is an unsupported joint (and) [...] Injuries occur when there is too much force travelling through the knee when there are large changes in training load or abnormal distribution of force through the knee.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to knee injuries you will need to seek the advice of a doctor or physiotherapy professional. They can carry out an initial assessment and any further tests such as an MRI scan or an X-ray to rule out more serious conditions.
The treatment you are recommended will depend on the outcome of these assessments. However, typically cyclists are assigned physical therapy treatment for standard injuries, whilst more serious conditions such as osteoarthritis may require more specialist intervention.
Bruises, Cuts, and Grazes from Falling
Whether you have been cycling for a long time or you have yet to learn, you’ve likely already experienced the embarrassment and physical pain of falling off your bike. Unfortunately, falling is common in cycling as cyclists come into contact with foot traffic, road traffic, or obstacles along their route.
Thankfully, most falls from a bicycle that aren’t serious just result in a bruised ego (as well as physical bruising) and a few nasty cuts and grazes. That’s why we recommend that all cyclists carry a small first aid kit in their travel backpack. It might seem a little over-the-top but we guarantee you’ll be surprised how often the first aid kit comes in handy to patch up those surface injuries.
If you want to prevent cuts and grazes (like most of us do!) you might consider wearing knee and elbow pads as well as long-sleeved clothing to help protect you while you’re cycling. The more preventative measures you take, the less likely you are to experience a serious injury while out cycling.
Cycling is an enjoyable activity that helps get you out of the house, stay physically active, get from one location to another, and see the sights. We want you to enjoy cycling as much as possible. So, we hope this article will help you be aware of the potential risks so that you can take the appropriate preventative measures to protect yourself and those around you from serious injury.