A Top North Georgia Orthopaedic Surgeon’s Insight on Common Cycling Injuries

A Top North Georgia Orthopaedic Surgeon’s Insight on Common Cycling Injuries

By Dr. G. Alan Binkley, MD, FAAOS – Northview Orthopaedic Associates in Dahlonega


As an orthopaedic surgeon and former avid cyclist - I once rode all the way from Vancouver down to Tijuana, Mexico along Hwy 1 – I’m all too familiar with cycling injuries one can experience while engaging in this exhilarating and always adventurous physical activity. The bottom line is that cycling injuries can be traumatic or related to overuse. The most common muscle and joint overuse conditions related to cycling include knee pain, Achilles tendonitis, wrist pain and back and neck pain. In some cases, orthopaedic problems can be relieved by altering cycling mechanics and combinations of stretching, rest and ice. When simple measures do not work and pain persists, an orthopaedic surgeon that understands the mechanics of cycling can evaluate the condition and offer tailored management options that work for the athlete.

Knee pain

This is one of the most overuse injuries in the cycling. Knee pain often be improved with adjusting seat height and/or cleat position. In some cases, cycling insoles can help foot position and improve knee pain. Hamstrings tightness can contribute to knee pain, so a good stretching program is important.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is common in cyclists due to the stress put through the back of the ankle just above the heel with each pedal stroke. The tendon can become irritated and inflamed and may worsen with frequent cycling. Proper seat height and cleat position adjustments may prevent or relieve Achilles tendonitis. Gentle stretching, rest and ice are important for cyclists with symptoms of Achilles tendonitis.

Wrist Pain

Cyclists may develop wrist pain due to the weight through their arms and wrists through the handlebar. In some cases, adjusting handlebar height, angle or distance from the seat to the handlebar changes the position of the wrist and can help relieve wrist pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also common among cyclists from long periods in a position that causes pressure on the tendons and ligaments of the wrist. In this case, cyclists may experience pain, numbness and tingling in the wrist or hands while riding and, in more severe cases may persist after cycling. Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include changes to the handlebars and seat position to decrease stress on the wrist, physical therapy, ice, anti-inflammatories and surgery.

Lower Back and Neck Pain

Spending long periods of time in the same flexed position can put stress on spinal joints and muscles of the back and neck. Seat and handlebar height adjustments may improve this issue. Flexibility stretches for the spine are important and exercises such as yoga may help cyclists who have back pain. Rest breaks and frequent change in hand position on the handle may also relieve pain.

Dr. Binkley is a surgeon with Northview Orthopaedic Associates, a practice he founded in Dahlonega in1994. It is the only surgery center with accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) - for any specialty - in Lumpkin, Dawson, White and Union Counties. For more information call 706-864-7904 or visit northviewortho.com