Cyclists Usually Get Injuries From Falls and Overuse of the Body (2023)

Cycling is a great, low-impact way to stay fit, but it isn’t without risk of pain and injury. Most cycling pain occurs due to poor bike fit or improper riding technique. It’s important to have your bike adjusted to your body, because proper bike fit can prevent pain and injury. Be aware of injuries that are common in cycling.

Upper Body and Head Injuries

Your upper body is at risk of injuries in falls from your bike. But it's also possible to experience overuse injuries in the upper body.

Concussionand Head Injury

A concussion is typically caused by a severe head trauma where the brain moves violently within the skull. It can happen in a fall.

Wear abike helmetto reduce the risk of a serious head injury while biking. It is also important to recognize and treat theearly warning signs of a head injury.

The age-adjusted incidence of bicycle injuries resulting in hospital admission increased by 28% from 1998 to 2013. Over half of these injuries were to an extremity, and 16% were head injuries.

Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone)

A shoulder fracturetypically refers to a total or partial break to either the clavicle (collarbone) or the neck of the humerus (arm bone). It generally is from an impact injury, such as a fall from your bike.

Hand Numbness (Ulnar Neuropathy) and Wrist Pain

Ulnar Neuropathy is pain and numbness of the small andring finger. It is associated with pressure on the handlebars for long periods of time. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also occur.

Always ride with your elbows slightly bent to act as a shock absorber. Alternate the pressure on the inside and the outside of the palm while riding.

Lower Body Pain

Sitting in the saddle can cause pain in the pelvis, buttocks, or lower back. Two conditions to be aware of are:

  • Pudendal neuropathy: This chronic pelvic pain happens from sitting in the saddle too long. Regular rest breaks and time off from cycling may be needed to reduce the risk. Changing the type of seat has not been found to be effective.
  • Piriformis syndrome: The piriformis muscle is near the top of the buttocks. If it becomes tight or cramps, it can putpressure on the sciatic nerveand cause gluteal (or buttock) pain or sciatica.​

Knee Pain

Knee painis extremely common in cyclists. In order to treat the cause of the pain, it is important to have an evaluation and proper diagnosis. Shoe modifications and changing your cleat position may help.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome usually refers to pain under and around the kneecap. It is also called runner's knee.


This term refers to softening and deterioration of the underside of the kneecap. In young athletes, this is typically an injury from trauma, overuse, poor alignment of the knee joint, or muscle imbalance.

This leads to friction and rubbing under the kneecap that results in damage to the surface of the cartilage. The sensation is a dull pain around or under the kneecap that worsens when walking downstairs or hills, climbing stairs,other weight-bearing activity.

(Video) 10 most common cycling injuries & how to treat them

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in athletes. It is a degenerative disease that results in a gradual wearing away of joint cartilage.

Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain, swelling, and a decrease in the range of motion of the knee. Morning stiffness that decreases with motion is also common.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The IT band runs along the outer thigh; IT bandfriction syndromeoften results inknee pain on the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee or lower leg. It is associated with overtraining and muscle strength imbalances.

Leg and Foot Pain

These common cycling injuries are primarily due to overuse.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is achronic overuse injuryof the tendon in the back of the ankle. It tends to come on gradually until the pain is constant and exercise or activity too painful to continue.Left untreated, Achilles tendonitis can lead to an increased risk ofAchilles tendon rupture.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. A telltale symptom is pain in the heel during the first steps of the morning.

Arch Pain

Arch pain or strain can be due to inflammation, with a burning sensation under the arch of the foot.Treatment of arch painoften consists of adaptive footwear and inserts.


Blisters are fluid-filled sacs on the surface of the skin that commonly occurs on the hands or the feet due to friction. Your shoe may be rubbing your foot in the wrong place or your grip on the handlebars is causing this friction.

Other Common Cycling Injuries

Cyclists are also at risk for these common aches, pains, and injuries:

  • Abrasions and road rash:Falling from your bike onto a hard surface can scrape away layers of skin.
  • Muscle cramps:A cramp is a sudden, tight and intense pain caused by a muscle locked in spasm. Factors that may contribute are dehydration, electrolyte depletion, muscle fatigue, and doing a new activity.
  • Sprains and strains:These are acute injuries that vary in severity but usually result in pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of the ability to move and use the joint.
  • Delayed-onset muscle soreness:This is muscle pain, stiffness or soreness that occurs 24 to 48 hours after unaccustomed or particularly intense exercise.
  • Overtraining syndrome:Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond their body's ability to recover.

Pre-Ride Bike Safety Checklist

16 Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Leavitt TG, Vincent HK. Simple seat height adjustment in bike fitting can reduce injury risk.Curr Sports Med Rep. 2016;15(3):130. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000254

  2. Høye A. Bicycle helmets - To wear or not to wear? A meta-analyses of the effects of bicycle helmets on injuries.Accid Anal Prev. 2018;117:85–97. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2018.03.026

  3. Sanford T, McCulloch CE, Callcut RA, Carroll PR, Breyer BN. Bicycle trauma injuries and hospital admissions in the United States,1998-2013.JAMA. 2015;314(9):947-949. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.8295

  4. Lea MA, Makaram N, Srinivasan MS. Complex shoulder girdle injuries following mountain bike accidents and a review of the literature.BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2016;2(1):e000042. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2015-000042

  5. Brubacher JW, Leversedge FJ. Ulnar neuropathy in cyclists.Hand Clin. 2017;33(1):199–205. doi:10.1016/j.hcl.2016.08.015

  6. Guess MK, Partin SN, Schrader S, et al. Women's bike seats: a pressing matter for competitive female cyclists.J Sex Med. 2011;8(11):3144–3153. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02437.x

  7. Cass SP. Piriformis syndrome: a cause of nondiscogenic sciatica.Curr Sports Med Rep. 2015;14(1):41–44. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000110

  8. Althunyan AK, Darwish MA, Abdel Wahab MM. Knee problems and its associated factors among active cyclists in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia.J Family Community Med. 2017;24(1):23-29. doi:10.4103/2230-8229.197178

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  9. Halabchi F, Abolhasani M, Mirshahi M, Alizadeh Z. Patellofemoral pain in athletes: clinical perspectives.Open Access J Sports Med. 2017;8:189-203. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S127359

  10. Callaghan M. Lower body problems and injury in cycling. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2005;9:226-236. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2005.01.007

  11. Amoako AO, Pujalte GG. Osteoarthritis in young, active, and athletic individuals.Clin Med Insights Arthritis Musculoskelet Disord. 2014;7:27–32. doi:10.4137/CMAMD.S14386

  12. Egger AC, Berkowitz MJ. Achilles tendon injuries.Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2017;10(1):72–80. doi:10.1007/s12178-017-9386-7

  13. Chinn L, Hertel J. Rehabilitation of ankle and foot injuries in athletes.Clin Sports Med. 2010;29(1):157-167. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2009.09.006

  14. Miller KC, Stone MS, Huxel KC, Edwards JE. Exercise-associated muscle cramps: causes, treatment, and prevention.Sports Health. 2010;2(4):279-283. doi:10.1177/1941738109357299

  15. Vickers AJ. Time course of muscle soreness following different types of exercise.BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2001;2:5. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-2-5

  16. Kreher JB, Schwartz JB. Overtraining syndrome: A practical guide.Sports Health. 2012;4(2):128-138. doi:10.1177/1941738111434406

Additional Reading

  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Bicycle safety. Updated February 2016.

(Video) Top 10 Most Common Cycling Injuries

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.

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What is the most common injury for cyclists? ›

One of the most common injuries suffered by cyclists is a head injury, which can be anything from a cut on the cheek to traumatic brain injury. Wearing a helmet may reduce the risk for head injury by 85 percent.

What injury can you get from falling from a bike? ›

Some common injuries from bike falls are: Road rash, or abrasions and lacerations on the skin. Bone fractures. Bone breaks.

What is the most common injury related to indoor cycling class? ›

Knee pain from indoor cycling is quite common. "It's usually a setup problem," says Karp. "Either your knees are bending too much, or you're too far forward or back." This can cause you to rely too heavily on your quads, which over time could overload your knees, and not enough on your glutes and hamstrings.

When do most accidents with cyclists occur? ›

Bicyclist deaths are highest during the summer months between June and September. Nearly three quarters of all bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas. Failing to yield the right of way is the highest factor in fatal bike crashes, followed by bicyclists not being visible.

Which kind of injuries are most fatal bicycle accidents? ›

1. Concussion/Head Injuries: Statistics vary, but between 25% to 50% of all injured bicyclists suffer concussions or other head injuries. Head injuries are responsible for more than 60% of bicycle accident fatalities.

What are 3 common accidents that involve a car and bike? ›

3 of the Most Common Types of Bicycle Accidents Caused by Vehicles
  • A vehicle attempts to overtake a cyclist. This type of accident is typically the biggest threat to cyclists. ...
  • A vehicle turns in front of a cyclist. ...
  • A vehicle pulls out in front of a cyclist.

Where do most bicycle accidents occur? ›

Most collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles occur in urban areas, and a good number of them occur at intersections. Both bikes and motor vehicles must follow the rules of the road, including those that govern intersections.

What are the injuries in cycle accident? ›

Due to the nature of cycling, your limbs, knees and ankles are at risk of injury when you're on the move. These can range from minor sprains to severe breaks or fractures. Broken bones are a very common form of injury, however if soft tissue is also damaged this can lead to injuries such as torn ligaments.

What is the most common injury from fall? ›

Falls Are Serious and Costly

Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture. Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling,8 usually by falling sideways.

What is the most common injury after a fall? ›

Broken bones are one of the most common injuries due to falls. They are painful, scary, and can range from only minor fractures to severe breaks, that may require surgery depending on where and how severe the injury is.

What is most serious injury from a fall? ›

Traumatic Brain Injuries

One of the most catastrophic types of injuries that can occur is a traumatic brain injury. These often result in long-term damages and can leave the injured party with significant side effects they must endure over the course of their life.

Can cycling cause repetitive strain injury? ›

Hand and Wrist Pain

Leaning forwards during cycling puts a lot of tension through forearms and hands, which can be exacerbated by gripping too hard and not varying hand position. This can lead to repetitive Strain (RSI) type symptoms with pain and tightness in the wrist, forearm and elbow.

What are internal injuries from bike accident? ›

Some possible internal motorcycle accident injuries include the following. Tears in the aorta, superior or inferior vena cave or branches. Tears, cuts or blunt trauma to organs such as the spleen or liver. Bleeding around the lungs.

Is cycling class hard on your knees? ›

Cycling is great for your overall health and easy on your joints—if you do it right. One big reason people get into cycling is that it's a low-impact sport, meaning it's gentle on your joints.

What are the risks of cycling? ›

Common causes of cycling-related injuries include incorrect riding postures and demanding too much of your body. Only seven per cent of cycling injuries involve collisions with other vehicles – you are much more likely to hurt yourself by falling off your bike or hitting a stationary object.

What is the most important safety rule in cycling? ›

To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road. Bicycles in many States are considered vehicles, and cyclists have the same rights and the same responsibilities to follow the rules of the road as motorists.

What is the safest time to ride a bike? ›

Morning ride create more encouragement, freedom on the road and avoid mass traffic during peak hour. Heavy traffic and road safety is main reason to block you for doing cycling in the end of the day or after work. Morning weather is much comfortable than any other part of the day.

Which bone is commonly broken in bicycle accidents? ›

Fracturing the clavicle, which connects your shoulder and breastbone, is sometimes called “the cyclist's rite of passage” as many famous cyclists have suffered this injury. Bike crashes are the most common reason for a clavicle fracture.

What is the death rate of bicycles? ›

Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die and over 130,000 are injured in crashes that occur on roads in the United States every year.

What age group is most likely to suffer a trauma from a bicycle accident? ›

Young adolescents aged 10–13 years accounted for the highest percentage of cases (36.6%) followed by children aged 6–9 years (25.1%). Most patients were male (76.7%) and resided in an urban area (94.4%). A head injury was diagnosed in one out of three hospitalized bicyclists; 30% were due to a motor vehicle collision.

What are the two most common causes of accidents? ›

The 12 Most Common Causes of Car Accidents
  • Distracted Driving. Undoubtedly, distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents. ...
  • Speeding. ...
  • Drunk Driving. ...
  • Reckless Driving. ...
  • Inclement Weather. ...
  • Running Intersections. ...
  • Teenagers. ...
  • Night Driving.
Mar 2, 2022

What are the 2 most common accident types? ›

Top 5 Most Common Types of Car Accidents
  1. Rear-End Collisions. Rear-end collisions most frequently happen when the rear driver collides with the vehicle in front of them from behind. ...
  2. Head-On Collisions. ...
  3. T-bone Accidents. ...
  4. Single Car Accidents with Fixed Objects. ...
  5. Sideswipe Accidents.
Dec 6, 2022

Are bike crashes common? ›

No matter how cautious you are, however, accidents involving bikes and motor vehicles or pedestrians are inevitable. Many bike accidents result in serious injury or fatality. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that there are approximately 850 bicyclist fatalities every year.

What happens if you don t look away from the bike in high on life? ›

No matter what, as soon as the player turns their gaze away from the bike, it will immediately disappear.

Who are the 4 bike riders killed? ›

The investigation into four men who vanished after leaving an Okmulgee, Oklahoma, home on bicycles last week is now a murder investigation, the local police chief said, after four dismembered bodies pulled from a river were positively identified as the missing men.

Where do the most accident frequently occur? ›

The most common places that experience automobile accidents are rural areas, interstates, intersections, and parking lots.

What percentage of bicycle accidents result in head injuries? ›

According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Safety Council (NSC): Head injuries occur in 70-80% of all fatal bicycle crashes. One-third of non-fatal bicycle injuries are to the head. Adults comprise the majority of bicyclist-motor vehicle crash fatalities.

Why do my legs hurt after a bike accident? ›

In a severe crash, muscles can tear or rupture on impact. Due to their size and position when seated, muscles in the thigh are more likely to experience tears. A ruptured muscle or tendon may be accompanied by severe pain; immediate bruising; weakness; inability to use, move, or put weight on the leg; and deformity.

How common are head injuries in cycling? ›

One-third of non-fatal bicyclist injuries are to the head. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a majority of the 80,000 cycling-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms each year are brain injuries.

What causes the most fall injuries? ›

1. Wet and Uneven Surfaces. By far the most common cause of slip and fall accidents globally is due to wet and uneven surfaces. In this country, they account for 55% of all of these types of accidents.

What are the 3 most common injuries? ›

Let's look at eight common possible athletic-related injuries and possible prevention measures you can take.
  • Strains. ...
  • Sprains. ...
  • Knee injuries. ...
  • Fractures. ...
  • Tennis elbow. ...
  • Plantar fasciitis/shin splints. ...
  • Back injuries/back pain. ...
  • Concussion.

What are the 5 most common injuries? ›

Here's a look at the top five most common sports injuries, how to treat them and what you can do to prevent future injuries.
  • Sprains. ...
  • Strains. ...
  • Fractures. ...
  • Concussions. ...
  • Overuse injuries. ...
  • Preventing sports injuries.

What are 3 physical effects of a fall? ›

Consequences of falls
  • pain.
  • bruising.
  • scratches and other superficial wounds.
  • haematomas.
  • lacerations.
  • fractures.
  • intracranial bleeding.

What organs are damaged after a fall? ›

Likewise, impacting the ground after a fall can cause blunt trauma. Blunt trauma can rupture blood vessels and organs. The organs most likely to suffer damage from blunt trauma include the spleen and liver.

What happens to your body after a hard fall? ›

Depending on how quickly your fall occurs, your body releases a surge of adrenaline when you first start to lose control and you begin to panic. Once the fall is underway, your body braces for impact by tensing your muscles and extending your arms or legs.

How long does it take for 70 year old bones to heal? ›

A: It varies. If you follow your doctor's instructions and allow for adequate rest and recovery time, your bone should heal within three to six months. More extensive injuries, especially those that involve a joint, may require two years or more for optimal recovery.

What is the most painful injury known to man? ›

Flail Chest: Defined as at least two ribs broken in at least two places (each) this high force trauma injury occurs when a section of the rib-cage becomes broken away from the rest, and is able to move independently of the rest of the chest.

What is the most traumatic injury? ›

As a result, the most common injury in assault victims is head trauma. Specific problems include facial fractures and brain injuries. In addition, some assaults result in spinal injuries.

What muscle are greatly affected while cycling? ›

The main muscles at work in cycling are the quadriceps and hamstrings in the upper leg, and the gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf. These muscles contract in a sequence that creates the pedaling action. The quadriceps and hamstrings do most of the work when you ride a bicycle.

What muscle imbalance do cyclists have? ›

The major muscle imbalance I see in cyclists is weakness in the glute muscles and overactive quads/hip flexors. This is known as quad dominance and commonly affects cyclists as the position on the bike leads to the glutes switching off and the quads becoming the dominant muscle in the movement.

What are the signs of internal damage? ›

Symptoms of concealed internal bleeding
  • pain at the injured site.
  • swollen, tight abdomen.
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • pale, clammy, sweaty skin.
  • breathlessness.
  • extreme thirst.
  • unconsciousness.

How do you know if you have internal damage? ›

Abdominal pain and/or swelling can be caused by Internal bleeding from trauma in the liver or spleen. These symptoms get worse as the bleeding continues. Light-headedness, dizziness, or fainting can result from any source of internal bleeding once enough blood is lost.

What is worse for your knees walking or riding a bike? ›

"We expected that walking on a treadmill, which is more controlled, would be better than biking [in terms of low impact to the knee]," the researcher noted. But biking actually won out, he said. Other details on the results: Biking generated the least force, producing impact of about 1.3 times the person's body weight.

Is walking or biking better for bad knees? ›

The lesser impact at the knee joint means a lower chance of knee injury, so this is why most research suggests that cycling and swimming are the best exercises for patients with knee problems.

Is cycling good for arthritis? ›

Cycling is a fantastic activity, especially if you have arthritis, particularly knee osteoarthritis, as it places very little stress on your joints. It can be done outdoors, at a gym or at home.

What nerve is injured in bicycle? ›

Two types of nerve palsies or pressure conditions in the hand are common in cycling. The most common involves the ulnar nerve and enters the hand on the little finger side of the palm, where the padding over the nerve is thin. Pressure on the base of the pinky side of the palm can result in numbness.

How long does it take to recover from falling off a bike? ›

How long does it take to recover from a bike accident? Recovery time depends on the amount and level of injury. If you have a broken bone or sprain, you can expect a minimum of two months to recover. For smaller injuries, the recovery should take less than two months.

What are the statistics on bicycle injuries? ›

The number of preventable deaths from bicycle transportation incidents increased 16% in 2020 and have increased 44% in the last 10 years, from 873 in 2011 to 1,260 in 2020. At the same time, the number of preventable nonfatal injuries has declined 39%, from 536,412 in 2011 to 325,173 in 2020.

Which part of body is affected by cycling? ›

Cycling improves overall function in your lower body and strengthens your leg muscles without overstressing your joints. It targets your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

What muscles should hurt when cycling? ›

That would include the quadriceps, glutes, and the posterior chain in the back. However, this is highly dependent on cycling discipline. For example, if you are a road cyclist going on your first MTB ride, you can probably expect to have sore upper body muscles.

Can cycling cause neuropathy? ›

Pudendal nerve pressure neuropathy can result from prolonged cycling, particularly when using a poor riding technique. After beginning to use a stationary bike.

Do cyclists get stress fractures? ›

A stress fracture is a hairline crack or severe bruising in the bone, which can be painful and debilitating. They are common overuse injuries caused by repetitive actions and are especially common in sportsmen and women, including cyclists.

What is the most painful broken bone injury? ›

The Femur is often put at the top of the most painful bones to break. Your Femur is the longest and strongest bone in your body, running from your hip to your knee. Given its importance, it's not surprising that breaking this bone is an incredibly painful experience, especially with the constant weight being put on it.

Should you go to the hospital after falling off a bike? ›

If you are injured in a bicycle accident, it's important to seek immediate medical attention for serious injuries. However, if your accident occurred because of a negligent driver, you should visit the hospital, even if you have no apparent injuries.

Should I go to the doctor after a hard fall? ›

Most bumps and bruises do not require medical attention. However, if pain from a fall persists beyond a few hours or you are unable to bear weight or move an upper extremity without pain, be sure to get evaluated by a physician.


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