Common Cycling Ailments: Understand and Plan

Apr 01, 2021

By: Kallie Hart, DPT

Finally, it’s the time of year where we can see the ground and the sun is shining. For many, that means taking out their bikes to get back into a cycling routine. Cycling is a repetitive activity, meaning that it can lead to musculature ailments such as tight/stiff muscles, muscle imbalances, and overuse type injuries. As Physical Therapists (PT’s), we see common patterns that can lead to injuries. All PT treatments are individualized based on how you present, but here are a couple of common issues seen in cyclers. 

Muscle stiffness: 

Muscle stiffness can occur for a couple of reasons but in active individuals it is commonly due to being overused in addition to improper or limited stretching. When a muscle is short or stiff, it cannot work optimally which can lead to a decrease in your performance. The most important muscle groups to target during stretching for avid cyclists include hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, and IT band musculature. There are a variety of ways to stretch each muscle, and PT’s can assist in finding a way that best fits each person’s individual body. 

Muscle imbalances and overuse:

Muscle imbalances typically occur due to habits or continuous posturing in the same position. The most common muscle imbalances that can occur in cyclists include the region around the pelvis. Due to the common posture while biking, individuals typically sit with their pelvis rotated forward which can cause tightness of hip flexors and low back musculature.This alignment also contributes to weakness in gluteus maximus musculature along with abdominal weakness. Lengthened and weak glute muscles can contribute to overuse the of hamstring muscles, which plays right back into the muscle stiffness we talked about earlier. 

Moving up the body, there are similar ailments in relationship to the neck/shoulders. With placement of the head forward and shoulders in a rounded position, individuals can present with weakness in mid-back stabilizing muscles resulting in stiffness in upper trapezius muscle and pectoralis major musculature (chest muscles). 

What’s the plan? 

Each individual body responds differently to exercise, meaning each person has different muscular dysfunctions. As no two bodies work the same, individualized Physical Therapy would result in quicker recovery time, higher satisfaction, and overall better performance. This is where Robinet PT can help. You can begin to work on stretching the muscles that are commonly stiff and strengthening muscles that are commonly weak, but getting the proper individualized care early on will save you time and money in the long run. If you have pain during or after cycling, call us today for a free consultation and we can help you determine the best-individualized treatment plan for you.