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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

Nipping Injury in the Bud

April 9, 2009

Injury Prevention 101 – Flexibility
By Dr. Josh Sandell
Spine and Sports Institute


The Australian triathlon team was screened in November 2003 prior to the World Championships in New Zealand, and found two main predisposing factors to injury: thoracic spine stiffness and tight hip flexors.

This pattern is extremely common in cyclists. Cycling training is one potential cause of thoracic stiffness because of the time spent in the time-trial position. If good spinal posture is not maintained on the bike, the thoracic spine can become excessively hunched when the cyclist becomes fatigued. If this posture is not corrected and the mid-spine is not regularly stretched, stiffness can develop and a drop in cycling performance may follow as a result of the athlete adopting a less efficient aerodynamic position.

The thoracic spine’s mobility can be improved with lying on your back over a physioball or lying on one’s back with a towel on the floor.

Tight hip flexors are a major injury risk factor and are a common problem because of the length of time cyclists spend with the hip bent in the time-trial position while cycling. Low back injuries, hamstring strains, hip flexor strains and lower limb overuse injuries can be linked to tight hip flexors. Hip flexor and quadriceps stretching are essential to prevent this pattern from developing.

The muscle groups should be stretched daily, before and after activity (especially after cycling). Stretches should be held for approximately 30 seconds to one minute without bouncing, performed gently and slowly to the point of tension but never pain.
While an effective stretching program may reduce injuries, many athletes look to stretching as the answer to injuries. Athletes do become injured because of over flexibility. Be consistent with your stretching, but don’t go to extremes and don’t look to it as the injury cure-all.

Our next post will deal with strength training and injury prevention