7 common injuries from incorrect posture on a bike

Surely you have ever had neck pain, lower back pain, or numbness in your feet and hands when you ride a bike. These discomforts, which can lead to muscle or joint injury, are often the result of poor posture on the bike.

When we go out pedaling on the road or in the mountains, we spend a lot of time doing physical exercise, and that entails stress for our muscles and joints that are aggravated if the bicycle has incorrect settings for our body measurements.

For this reason, it is very important to choose the correct bike size based on our height, leg length, and other factors. But we should not neglect the adjustment of other elements, such as the height at which to place the saddle, the height of the handlebar, or how to know the length of cranks we need. Riding a bike in the wrong settings is a source of preventable injuries.

We have compiled the most common injuries caused by bad posture on the bike, their causes, and what to do to avoid them.

Numbness of the hands and feet

It is quite common that after long hours on the bike, the cyclist begins to notice tingling and weakness in the hands or feet, the result of a strong compression with the handlebars or with the clipless pedals. This ailment is called paresthesia, and it is nothing more than the numbness of a part of the body due to compression of a nerve or poor blood circulation.

To avoid numbness in the hands and feet, part of the solution is to make the support surface of the hands and feet more comfortable. An effective solution for your hands is to put on cycling gloves with gel inserts or swap the handlebar grips for softer and more cushiony ones. To find out which one to choose, we recommend our guide with the types of grips for mountain bike handlebars.

Regarding the feet, the tension of the pedal anchor may be very hard and does not allow a certain lateral movement to unload muscles and tendons. Or that the shoe is too tight and you have to loosen the laces or the adjustment wheel a bit – in the case of wearing cycling shoes with a boa closure. Also, try to stretch your arms and legs every 10-15 minutes while walking, moving your wrists and fingers. Also, check how to adjust the cleats of your shoes so as not to strain the muscles and joints of the foot.

Overtraining also carries the risk of contractures or cramps in the thighs and calves.

Knee pains

The knee is the essential joint for pedaling and the one that is subjected to the most wear and tear. That is why it is essential to adopt a good posture on the bicycle that allows a correct flexion of the knee when pedaling. And this happens, fundamentally, by having the saddle at the correct height and well leveled with respect to the horizontal of the ground.

The most common knee injury due to poor posture is patellar tendinopathy or tendonitis of the knee. According to physiotherapy specialist Jordi Soriano, the most frequent symptom that may indicate the appearance of tendonitis in the knee is stabbing pain located in the lower part of the patella, which can become more intense at rest.

Patellar tendinitis is highly recommended to be treated with a doctor or physio from its appearance. Since it is an injury that runs a high risk of becoming chronic from not stopping in time

Neck pain

Although he is not so involved in cycling, problems often appear in the upper body as well, such as neck discomfort. They are located in the neck or in the area of ​​the trapezius. And they can be due to a posture that is too inclined or also too straight when sitting on the bike.

A good choice of the size of the bicycle that guarantees a correct distance between saddle and handlebar can avoid this type of injury. Also, and in case you have not found the right bike size, you can make adjustments to components such as the stem (mounting a shorter or longer one) or delaying and lengthening the saddle horizontally (through the rails).

On the other hand, check that the saddle is level and not tilted forward, as this will make your position too much above the handlebar, and both neck, shoulders, and traps will suffer after several hours of pedaling. A level saddle at the correct angle helps prevent neck pain when riding a bike.

Buttock pain, in most cases, is caused by not choosing a saddle with the appropriate width.

Lumbar injuries

The lower back also suffers when riding a bicycle, and the appearance of pain in this area is closely related to the adoption of a bad posture. There are several causes of low back pain in cyclists, although we highlight these five that the experts of Cycling and Performance point out :

  • Pedaling with the trunk too erect due to too high a handlebar.
  • Very extended arms due to having the handlebar very far from the saddle.
  • Saddle too far back.
  • Uneven saddle, with the tip higher than the rear.
  • Asymmetry on the saddle.

To avoid pain in the lower back that can lead to chronic injuries, it is important to check the adjustments of both the handlebars and the saddle. It is very important that, if you are going to do long training sessions or races, you spend a few minutes checking the position of the saddle, its backward movement or overtaking, as well as verifying that the height of the handlebar is correct for your height, type of cycling or posture that you want. Empower (attack, control, etc.).

Hip injuries

They are not as frequent as the previous ones, but a position that is too tight on the handlebars, where the hip is forced more than it should, can cause significant discomfort in the area, even leading to spinal deformities such as lordosis. The prevention of this injury fundamentally happens by having the saddle placed at the correct height. A simple and common adjustment that, however, must be done correctly.

Muscle injuries to the thighs and calves

The muscles of the thighs such as the quadriceps, adductors, or biceps femoris are the perfect target for all kinds of discomfort related to cycling. It is inevitable to go through any of them sometime if you practice this sport regularly. Normally the cause is overtraining, which produces discomfort and muscle fatigue that subsides in a few days with the appropriate rest.

This type of ailment can be prevented by going out to train progressively and respecting rest periods (one or two days a week) to avoid overload or cramps.

Likewise, the height of the saddle is again, as in the cases described above, essential to prevent leg injuries. A seat that is too high will cause us to strain the back of the thigh (hamstrings), as well as the calves and the soleus, causing contractures, cramps, or strains.

On the other hand, a too-low seat will directly affect the front part of the thigh (quadriceps) and the knee joint, producing an imbalance in the muscular effort that will translate into discomfort and possible injury.

Buttock pain

Finally, we end up with one of the great enemies of every cyclist, especially beginners: buttock pain. The glutes are very important in pedaling movement (especially when standing up) and bear a good part of the pressure when sitting on the saddle and maintaining the posture on the bicycle.

It is common that, if you are not yet very used to riding a bicycle or if you go out sporadically, your ass begins to hurt with the passage of minutes or hours. It does not have to be synonymous with injury, but with lack of training and weakness in the area, which will end up disappearing as soon as we go out pedaling more frequently.

Also, if you want to minimize pain or delay its onset, choose a culotte with good padding that reduces or dampens the pressure on the muscle.

But chronic buttock pain can lead to significant discomfort and even sciatica. To avoid this, it is necessary to correct the posture adopted on the bicycle, adjust the height of the saddle well and choose a saddle that is suitable for the width of the hips (sit bones). It is also advisable to carry out progressive workouts, avoiding overtraining.

Leave a Comment