Cycling: Poor techniques cause injury for new cyclists

Singapore Cycling Federation head coach Adrian Ng (right) leads a conditioning session before the OCBC Cycle last year.
Singapore Cycling Federation head coach Adrian Ng (right) leads a conditioning session before the OCBC Cycle last year.PHOTO: OCBC CYCLE

After training hard for May's OCBC Cycle, the last thing you would want is to be forced off the saddle due to injury.

Cycling may be a low-impact sport for all ages, but beginners are more prone to injury because of poor techniques and lack of experience, said Singapore Cycling Federation head coach Adrian Ng, 37.

A saddle that is too high or too low is a common cause of pain in the knees and lower back.

Pain at the front of the knee typically occurs when the saddle is too low, said Dr Wang Mingchang, family physician at the National University Hospital.

A low saddle height adds pressure on the knees. This causes pain when one pedals for a prolonged period, added the 36-year-old.

Riding on a saddle that is too high can also put a strain on the lower back.

"When your seat is too high, you're constantly hunching and this will strain the soft tissues in your lower back," said Dr Wang.

To ensure the saddle is of ideal height, participants should check that their legs can extend fully when the pedal is at the six o'clock position, advised Ng.

Beginners are also more susceptible to pain on the outside of the knee. Said Dr Wang: "Amateurs tend to point their knees and toes inwards when they cycle and this causes excessive friction between the tendon and the bone.

"Always check and correct (your posture) during the ride."

To reduce stress on the knees and lower back, Dr Wang advises cyclists training for the May 5-6 event to pedal at a lower gear and refrain from too much up-slope training.

"The slopes at the OCBC Cycle shouldn't be that challenging so there's no need for too much uphill training. It's best to train on flat road," he said.

Stretching the hamstrings before and after a training session is also crucial as tight hamstrings can lead to lower back pain, added Dr Wang.

When approaching a corner, Ng advises cyclists to "stay in your imaginary lane" and refrain from swivelling the bike handles.

"When you swerve from left to right, you might hit another cyclist and cause an accident," said Ng.

Cyclists should also sit closer to the rear for better control.

Said Ng: "When you're tired, you will start to inch closer to the front of the bike. If you're already sitting so (close to the) front, it's easier to slip off the saddle."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2018, with the headline 'Poor techniques cause injury for new cyclists'. Print Edition | Subscribe