19.       Avoiding cycling injuries

If you experience discomfort or numbness when riding, don't grin and bear it because it could lead to long term chronic problems.  Most of these problems can he avoided though simple precautions and having yourself professionally fitted to your bike.

Important aspects for comfortable cycling:

         The right size bike

         Being correctly fitted to your bike ie. seat height and stem height/length

                   Daily stretching - prostrate praying to Allah, with your two arms stretched out in front and your weight right back, is a marvellous way to stretch out your hamstrings and quads.  Roll your weight from left leg to right and back a few times to extract a tad more benefit from this marvellous stretch

         Upper body and core strength

         Good quality clothing

Hands:

         Wear padded gloves.

         Adjust position to balance your weight between the saddle, pedals and bars.

         Ride with relaxed wrists and elbows which comes with increased confidence.

Feet

         Use clipless pedals and cycling shoes that have a sturdy platform sole.

               Loosen shoes and straps to allow for normal foot swelling.  Don't be embarrassed about removing your cycle shoes 'n socks over a lunch break to loosen up your feet, 'cause the soles of your feet may complain on a long ride, particularly if your shoes are new.

               Ensure cleats are placed so the ball of the foot is over the pedal axle and heels align naturally.

               Make certain your pedals are not too tight in case you need to release your feet quickly.  If there is no screw adjustment, a drop of light oil will facilitate releasing your cleats.

               Bike shoes need to be correct width for your feet and have a good quality innersole to reduce pressure on the sole of your feet.

Legs

         Learn to get up out of the saddle on hills occasionally to use different muscle groups and stretch your hamstrings and quads.

Saddle Soreness:

         Being correctly fitted to your bike should ensure your weight is correctly distributed between your bum and your legs:
  *        Increasing the height of the saddle by extending the length of the seat stem a few millimetres
         will marginally increase the pressure on your bum, because your body weight will be less
         supported by your legs pushing against the pedals. 
  *        Conversely, dropping your seat stem a few millimetres will marginally decrease the pressure
         on your bum because your legs will take a greater proportionate share of you torso weight.

         Set your saddle so it is level.

         Wear good cycling nicks with adequate padding.

Neck Pain:

         Usually caused by having a short riding position.

            Comfort may be improved by fitting a longer head stem to your handlebars, stretching your hamstrings and consciously thinking to not drop your Noggin but bending forward at the waist.

Back Pain:

         Often caused by a riding position which is too long because of incorrect frame or stem length.

         Improve flexibility by stretching your lower back and hamstrings ie. Yoga.

         Strengthen your abdominal muscles ie. Pilates.

           Dismount, lie on your back on a verdant grassy knoll, lift your knees and bring together, expend 3 or 4 mins rolling your knees from L to R and visa a versa, to loosen up your lower back.  Golly a few minutes prostrate, looking twds the sun with your knees in the air, rolling them from side to side, can un-numb a lower back.

Knees:

               Spin easy gears, don't suddenly increase riding distance, use cycling shoes and clipless pedals, correctly position cleats.  Ensure you have the correct seat position (both lateral and vertical).  Bea careful when getting out of the saddle to do it smoothly and not placing undue force on a knee which is protruding out instead of being tucked in.

          When riding, focus on a circular pedalling action with a high cadence, knees tracking smoothly (ie. not sticking outwards at 12 o'clock) and loose ankles.  If they are sticking out at the top of the rotation, your seat may be too low.

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