Cross Training For Runnersfrom
Cycling Increase Your Risk of Injury
Cross-training can help you avoid overuse
injury from running, and cycling (indoor or out) is an excellent way to
cross-train. But cycling can add to injury woes if you aren't careful.
Some studies show as many as 50% to 70% of
bicyclists reporting neck and back pain. Long rides can cause hand numbness and
aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome.
Knee pain is a risk due to high compressive
forces at the patellofemoral joint. Although most bicycle injuries are the
result of trauma, bike misfit misery can cause a host of problems and proper
fit can significantly reduce the incidence of pain and muscle tension.
Check pedals and cleats. Pedals that
secure the feet can be a hazard even though they are important for optimum
performance. If you use pedal cleats, make sure you have the best system for
you; there are several types to choose from. Cleats that aren't set up right
can throw off tracking in the ankles, knees, and hips. When pedal straps are
too tight, you can get numb feet, or worse, not be able to bail out safely in a
Seat height too low. Anterior knee
pain (pain in the front of the knee) is usually the result of riding on a
saddle set too low. Forcing greater knee flexion, there is increased stress on
the back of the patella. Sometimes riders think lowering the seat will help
with saddle-soreness, but choosing a gel seat or padded shorts is a better
Seat height too high. This, of
course, makes saddle-soreness worse and is generally uncomfortable, causing you
to wobble from side to side. Even subtle distortions can add up to misery over
a long ride. Overextending your legs with each pedal stroke can result in
Achilles tendinitis, hamstrings problems and pain in the back of the knee,
especially if your feet are fixed in cleats. Back and hip problems, as well as
prostatitis can also result from having your seat too high.
Seat too far forward. Front to back
seat position determines your knee position over the pedals. In an overly
forward position the pelvis is distorted and there is excess strain in the low
back. This is havoc for the crotch and buttocks as well.
Seat too far back. This also causes
over-reaching for the pedals risking hamstring problems, low back pain, and
Handlebars too low. This causes
excess weight bearing for your hands, arms, and shoulders causing tingling and
numbness in your hands and shoulder pain. Having your handlebars high enough is
especially important if you have a history of back or neck problems or you have
weak or inflexible back muscles.
Handlebars too high. Handlebars that
are too high can cause you to sit up too straight, causing too much downward
pressure on the pedals rather than pedaling with a circular motion.
Inappropriate shoes. Bicycle shoes
are stiff for a good reason. Overly soft (normal running or street shoes) can
cause arch pain and plantar fasciitis (the last thing you need from your
If you have any doubts, consult a
professional at a topnotch cycle shop to check out your bike fit.
(Parts of this article were adapted from
IDEA, The Health and Fitness Association, press release, April 2001.
Vol. 19, No. 10, Running & FitNews
© Copyright, The American Running Association.