No pain is gain

The No. 1 thing my cycling cronies whine about is a sore butt. There are three reasons for a bruised glute:

1. The first (and most obvious) reason is not wearing proper cycling shorts.

2. The second is improper positioning of your butt on the saddle. Your sit bones should make contact with the rear portion of the seat. If you ride too far forward, the center part of the saddle presses against your soft tissue.

3. Lastly, early in the season, pedal a maximum of 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back to allow for a gentle break-in period.

Knee Pain

The most frequent joint discomfort in cycling emanates from the knee. Knee pain must be addressed immediately to prevent further injury.

Pain on the outside of your knee during your pedal stroke may be aggravated by friction on your iliotibial (IT) band. Your IT band is a long, fibrous tendinous sheath located on the outside of your leg, extending from your hip to past your knee. Lowering your seat, stretching, anti-inflammatories and ice may help alleviate IT band syndrome, according to Peter Francis, professor of physical education at San Diego State University.

Pain behind your kneecap may be a sign of chondromalacia, a progressive softening of your patellar cartilage (the cushion between your bones). To relieve this pain, pedal easy gears and try raising your seat a little. “Strengthen the quadriceps on the inside of your knee (vastus medialis) by using the leg extension machine in your gym,” says Dr. Francis, one of the forefront researchers in the area of cycling injury prevention.

If you pedal big gears or don’t warm up properly, you may find yourself limping through a severe case of patellar tendinitis. Your patellar tendon is soft tissue just below the kneecap. “Instead of hammering heavy gears, spin faster in your small chainring,” says Mike Michels, competitive triathlete and athletic director for the Colorado Athletic Clubs. Emulate the pros by icing your patellar tendon for five minutes, massaging it for five minutes and then repeating the sequence.

Pain on the back of the medial (inside) of our knees may be caused by friction of three muscles rubbing together–your sartorius, gracilis and semitendinosus. Friction causes inflammation, so you know the drill: rest, ice and lower your seat a notch. Remember, pain is a signal that something is wrong. If your pain lasts longer than a week, consult your doctor.

How to Keep Cool and Stay Pumped

1. Take a deep breath, focusing on riding your race when you exhale.

2. Expect the unexpected–a flat tire or a broken spoke. Visualize yourself handling any eventuality. Nothing can rattle you.

3. Smile no matter what. Mimic the cringe-grin of Lance Armstrong ascending a mountain.