Most Common Cycling Injuries: Prevention

When it comes to a fun way getting in your exercise or even getting from point A to point B, cycling has been the number one way for many years. People of all ages enjoy riding their bikes out on trails, in their neighborhoods and even renting them at the beaches. One problem that comes with this mode of fun and exercise is cycling injuries. Learning how you can prevent these from happening to you will keep you happily cycling for years to come. Check out the common cycling injuries below and a few tips on how to prevent them from happening.

Pain in the Hands or Wrists

Some people experience pain in their hands or wrists after riding. Typically, that is because a lot of people ride with their elbows locked and arms straight out. To prevent that from happening to you, be sure to keep your elbows bent during riding time. This will help your elbows act as shock absorbers for the rest of your arm when you hit bumps or dips along the way.

Pain in the Neck or Back

You might experience neck pain or even back pain after you’ve been riding for a while. Most often times this is due to improper positioning on the bike itself. If you’re handlebars are set at too low of an angle, then you may find yourself rounding your back or bending over to reach them. If you seem to stay in one position for too long this can cause your neck pain to start as well. Be sure to change positions often and get off to stretch while you’re riding for a lengthy period of time.

Pain in the Knees

You may find the most common problem with cycling is the knee pain that can develop. This is mostly due to overuse of your knees. It can result in problems such as cyclists knee, quadriceps tendonitis, or other conditions that are from overuse of the joint. Make sure you give your knees plenty of rest before and after the cycling journey you take. Also shoe wedges can help to relieve the overuse of your knees and thus help prevent your knee pain from coming back.

Head Injuries

Always remember to wear a helmet whenever you are riding to prevent dangerous cycling injuries from happening. Keeping a helmet on at all times will drastically reduce the potential for you to suffer from a head injury during your bike ride.

Keep these tips in mind to help you enjoy cycling and prevent the most common cycling injuries.

4 Causes of Your Knee Pain

When it comes to aches and pains, they can be quite bothersome. Some are just dull aches because of overuse but others can be more painful and have different root causes. Pain in your knees can vary from just a bothersome ache to excruciating depending on the cause. You could have knee injuries or you could have pain resulting from a different condition altogether. Here are a few of the different varying causes of your knee pain and what you should know about them.

Osteoarthritis

This cause of your knee pain is typical after age 50. It’s your basic “wear and tear” type of pain from years of use. The main cause of this pain is when you’re using the knee and it causes your joint to swell or become achy. You may also notice stiffness in the joint when you’re getting up from bed early on in your day.

Patellar Tendinitis

When you overdo it on exercise or running, this is the condition that may pop up. This knee pain is centered around the swelling in the tendons of your knee joint. The tendons that actually connect your shin and kneecap become inflamed and cause the pain you’re feeling.

Dislocated Kneecap Pain

This happens when your kneecap slips out of place due to an injury. You may have injured your knee in sports or other events and this can cause quite a bit of pain.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease

This knee pain is caused by irritation at the bottom of the knee when you’re younger. This condition is usually started or aggravated when you’re overdoing during sports or exercise. It causes a bump below your kneecap where the tendon connects to the shinbone. This is usually only seen in younger people who are still growing and their bones are still shifting and changing.

What to Do with Knee Pain

There are a few things to keep in mind with your knee pain or knee injuries. Depending on the cause of the pain, these few tips can help you keep the pain reduced. Consider taking an anti-inflammatory to help reduce the swelling in your knee joints. You can ice the knee as well to help reduce inflammation. Make sure to rest the knee properly between exercising. Take some time off so that your knee can heal and recuperate. Also keep your knees elevated and consider adding in stretching exercises to help with the pain.

Basic First Aid for Fractured Knee

The knee is one of the largest joints in the body and it consists of the femur, patella, tibial, tibial tuberosity and the fibula. Knee fractures are usually injuries caused by trauma and often incurred in traffic accidents and sports activities. While dealing broken bones requires professional medical attention, basic first aid care can help contain the injury and lessen the discomfort of the wounded.


Symptoms

You can identify a fracture by certain observations of the wound and the person. The first sign is when you see the person grimacing in intense pain and the pain worsens when the affected leg is moved. If it is a closed fracture, you would see swelling in the area and a bluish tinge in the skin which indicates internal bleeding caused by broken bones. However, for an open fracture, the bones have pierced through the skin and would protrude from the leg in an awkward angle with profuse bleeding from the open wound.


First Aid

  • The first thing to do is to check whether the person is conscious and breathing. If there is no sign of life, start CPF immediately and get someone to call the ambulance.
  • For any open wounds, stop the bleeding by applying pressure. This is an important step as major loss of blood may cause the person to go into shock. Some of the signs of shock are paleness and shortness of breath.
  • If the scene of the accident is on an open road, immobilize the injury before moving the person by making a splint out of a stiff material such as cardboard. Place it under the knee and tie it in place with cloth.
  • Once the person is in a safe environment to rest while waiting for medical help, prop up the injured leg to elevate it and keep the body warm with a blanket or jacket.
  • If it is possible to get ice, wrap it in plastic or a piece of cloth and apply to the parts of the skin that are not torn.

5 Daily Activities To Reduce Risk of Knee Injury

The knees are so essential for our mobility but often times, we tend to overwork them or neglect to take care of them. Athletes are more prone to knee injuries and the injuries that they incur might be more severe. It could be an acute injury from accidents or overuse injury from excessive stress on the knees for long periods of time.

However, it is possible to prevent knee injury. There are simple things you can do every day to protect your knees, reduce the risk of twisting them and cutting down on the stress you put on them.

1) Stand on one leg

This stance helps to improve your balance and knee stabilizing strength. Simply stand on one leg, but avoid pulling your other leg all way up in a tight grip. Keep it bent loosely and spread your arms out to balance if needed. To increase the difficulty, you can slowly rotate your upper body left and right.

2) Stretch your hamstring

This exercise can be done anywhere, whether you’re taking a walk from your desk or watching TV. It strengthens your hamstring to give you more balance and reduce stress on your knees. Position one foot on a chair or a high step while keeping the other leg and your back straight. Then lean forward and hold the position for 20 seconds, feeling the stretch down the back of your leg.

3) Wear comfortable shoes

Avoid high heels and shoes that are too tight. Choosing a good fit helps maintain a proper leg alignment and balance, which takes pressure off the knees. You can choose to wear running or tennis shoes as those give more cushion and support. Shoe orthotics that you can buy at drugstores would also be a good alternative to give more stability and comfort.

4) Use a knee brace

Especially when engaging in sports, fabric sleeve brace provides support for the knee and prevents injury. If your daily activities involve bending, squatting and frequent changing directions, using a brace would prevent acute injuries or wearing your knees out.

5) Keep a healthy diet

To keep your knees strong, you need to keep your bones strong with a healthy diet. Take more dairy and dark green, leafy vegetables. It is especially important for elderly people and women that have gone through childbirth to replenish the calcium lost in old age and labour.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Symptoms & Treatment

Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is a medical condition resulting from the inflammation of bones, cartilage or tendons in the tibia. The result of this are growth spurts that specifically affects the knee. It is much more common in growing teenagers between the ages of 10 to 15. It also affects people who are more active in sports involving frequent jumping and running.

OSD will affect growing teenagers at the beginning of their growth spurts. Growth spurts provide the most ideal condition for OSD as different components of the body is growing but at a different rate. For example, the bone grows much faster than soft tissues such as tendons and cartilage and this will create a lot of stress on the growth plate, causing a bony lump. This lump is caused by traction tendinitis and is due to the hardening of the bone at the top of the tibia.

What are the symptoms?

OSD is a medical condition that can be felt due to the tension on the patella tendon by the surrounding muscles. This will result in painful inflammation of the tibia, affecting the patellar tendon all the way to the shinbone. The result is extreme pain, swelling and tenderness which is visible with an x-ray diagnosis. There are other possible symptoms and these include:

  • Pain that gets worse after periods of activeness
  • Pain goes away after periods of rest
  • Swelling under the knee and shinbone
  • Tightness of hamstring and quadriceps muscles

 

How can OSD be treated?

OSD will usually go away on its own after the growth spurt periods and this is usually by the age of 18. If symptoms persist after that, treatment is then required:

  • Icing the affected area for three times a day or as required, especially after sports
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain
  • Reduction of high impact activities
  • Using a knee immobiliser such as a knee brace
  • Stretching before and after any activity
  • Physiotherapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles

 

Shock absorbent insoles are recommended if the patient is going back to high impact activities or prolonged periods of walking. However, patients are recommended to stop participating in sports to facilitate healing. Non-impact sports such as swimming are still allowed though.

There are no known long-term complications of OSD and only in rare cases are there patients with persistent swelling. In some patients, there are also persistent lumps appearing on the shinbone but this is extremely rare.

The Relationship between Flips Flops and Arthritis

Arthritis or osteoarthritis is a joint disease that can occur anywhere in our body. Although it is more commonly found in people who are older, it still can happen in younger people. Arthritis will happen in people who bear a lot of weight on their joint. In Singapore where the weather is always hot and rainy, flip flops are the ideal choice of footwear for many due to the comfort and convenience. However, some people suggest that flip flips and arthritis have a relationship. So what exactly is this relationship? Let’s explore further in this article.

If you look closely at your feet, you will realise that our foot lands differently when we wear flip flops compared to a pair of shoes. Shorter steps are made when wearing flip flops and the heel strike amount is significantly reduced. When we wear normal shoes, our toes are flexed in an upwards direction. However with flip flops, the toes are flexing downwards instead in order to keep the flip flops on our foot. This incorrect flexing motion can cause the body mechanics to be affected due to wear and tear of the cartilage, causing pain and discomfort.

However, there are differing views on this! A medical study performed by Rush University discovered that flip flops help to reduce the amount of stresses experienced by the knee as compared with a pair of supportive and well cushioned shoes. A pair of supportive footwear works by providing maximum support to the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the foot and aim at maximising comfort. However, it pays little attention to the biomechanical effect on the foot. Shoes have a significantly higher load on the knee as compared to flip flops and this increased load is found to be a cause of arthritis. That aside, walking barefoot was found to be the least demanding action for the knee. Walking barefoot causes the foot to flex naturally without any external help and allows a natural stride as compared to artificial ones caused by wearing shoes or flip flops.

Despite flip flops appearing to be better at reducing arthritis on the surface, it does not mean that you should rush out and buy a pair to walk around daily. While flip flops are better for the knee, it is not best for the foot. Flip flops are badly cushioned and can cause foot injuries and problems.

Knee Popping Explained

Knee popping and associated pain is an extremely common problem experienced by many and there are many possible causes for it. The only distinguishable way between various factors is the presence of pain that comes along with it. Painless popping is often insignificant whereas painful popping is an indication of something serious underlying. Let’s attempt to solve some mysteries of knee popping.

Usually, knee popping is because the knee cap is loose. This can result from injury or ageing related wear and tear issues. Weak quadriceps muscles can also contribute to this knee popping phenomenon as it is inadequate to support the expansion and contraction motion of the knee.

Bubbles

Painless popping is usually due to the presence of bubbles in the joints. Bubbles are formed when there is a difference in pressure at the joint, allowing for the spontaneous formation of tiny air bubbles. When movements are attempted, the bubbles will be burst and thus emitting a popping sound. This is going to be a closed cycle since bubbles will continue to form due to the pressure difference. The scientific term for it is called cavitation and this is harmless.

Ligaments stretching

We have soft tissues located throughout our joints and movements will cause these tendons and ligaments to stretch slightly. Since they are elastic, they will return back to their original shape after the load is released and this will produce a popping sound, similar to the analogy of a rubber band stretching. This does not cause any soft tissue damage and is harmless.

Mechanical popping

Mechanical popping is due to the presence of an existing injury, commonly a loose cartilage. As the loose cartilage is free to move about in the joint, it will cause a flapping movement when the leg is moving, causing a popping sound. Since it is due to injury, medical attention will need to be sought to repair the loose cartilage.

Arthritis

Arthritis is effectively wear and tear and it causes the cartilage to get thinner and thinner. As the cartilage gets thinner and friction occurs during movement, both surfaces will rub against each other, resulting in a popping sound. It can also be quite painful for some patients to bear.

Since there are different contributions to knee popping, it is difficult to pin point exactly to the exact cause of it. Painless knee popping will not affect your daily lifestyle but painful ones will and can lead to degradation in the quality of lifestyle you can enjoy.

Top 3 Most Knee Damaging Activities

Living an active lifestyle is great and the health benefits associated are undisputable. Exercising regularly is important to strengthen our muscles and better support our joints. Weak joints will increase the chances of misalignment for the bones, ligaments and tendons. However, it may also cause problems for your knee. Our knee has to bear the brunt of our body weight and activities such as running and jumping will cause a lot of compressive stresses on the knee and wearing out the cartilage. Although our knee is designed to take all these things thrown at it, it will give way eventually. There are some activities that are especially damaging towards the knee and let’s explore them further.

Activities are classified into 2 different groups, namely low-impact and high-impact. Low impact exercises as the name suggests does not cause much problems for the knee. They include yoga, swimming, cycling and walking. These activities ensure that the knee is properly supported even though it’s being used extensively. Another group is the high-impact group which includes jumping, running and weightlifting.

Jumping

Jumping is a high-impact activity that places tremendous stresses on the knee whenever you land. Your body weight is amplified through jumping and landing awkwardly places even more stresses, leading to a weight of roughly twice your original weight. Activities that require jumping as core such as basketball should be avoided by people with bad knees.

Running

Running is another high impact activity that is bad for knees. However, running methods and surfaces can be changed to allow a lesser impact on the knees. For example, striking the floor with your mid-foot is less damaging compared to a heel strike. Also, there is a push towards barefoot running which supposedly reduces injuries. The running surface can be changed to a softer one such as natural grass or stadium tracks. The soft surface can help to cushion and absorb some of the impact.

Weightlifting

Weightlifting requires flexing of the knee joint and your knees not only have to bear your body weight, it now has to take both your body weight and the free weight into consideration. This places an absurd amount of stress on your knee and this is further intensified when you attempt to bend and stand up.  Not only does your knee get damaged, the surrounding tissues such as the tendons and ligaments can easily tear.

Knowing what are the activities that causes huge stresses on your knee is important so that you can make an informed decision on what to do and what not to do. You need a functional knee every day and you do not wish to be inconvenienced by a knee injury that you can easily avoid.

 

3 Rehab Exercises for Knee

Imagine our knee as the hinges of doors, only much more heavily used every single day. After a period of time, the hinges will start to squeak. What will you do then? The most logical way is to oil the hinge as oil will reduce the friction between the hinge and the door, allowing a smoother and silent opening and closing motion. The same goes for our knees! Our knee has to bear all of our body’s weight throughout the day and this is amplified through actions such as jumping. The pressure exerted on our knee can go up to 4 times of our body weight and sooner or later, our knee joints will start to go “rusty” and require maintenance. Rehab exercises are excellent for building and strengthening key muscles such as the Quad, hamstrings, abductor and adductor which will in turn help to reduce injuries. What are some great rehab exercises that you can do?

Quad contraction

Sit in an upright position and place a rolled towel beneath your knee. Place two fingers on your inner quad and start to push your knee down onto the towel. You will be able to feel your quad muscles start to tighten and hold in that position for 10 seconds. Slowly relax your quad muscles and repeat for 10 times. This exercise will help to firm and strengthen the quad muscles to better support your knee.

Hamstring contraction

Sit down upright on a chair and bend your knee 45 degrees. Sink your heel onto the floor and tighten your hamstring muscles. Hold in this position for 10 seconds and repeat for 10 times. To better support your thigh, you may use your hands to hold your thigh in a fixed position when you are tightening your hamstring muscles.

Resistance knee extension

You will need to sit down on a chair that is high enough to prevent your legs from touching the ground. Tie one end of the resistance band to the legs of the chair and another on your ankle. Slowly push your leg forward and align it with your thigh. You will be able to feel your quad muscles tightening and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 10 times. Be mindful to perform this exercise slowly as any sudden action may injure the quad muscles.

Rehab exercises for the knee will help to strengthen the muscles supporting the knee and reduce the risk of knee injuries. However, different exercises are meant for different target groups and you should always consult your physiotherapist whether you are suited for the exercise before performing them.

5 Simple Home Exercises after Knee Surgery

Once you return home after knee surgery, it is when your recovery officially starts. You need to start performing muscle strengthening exercises to build up strength that was lost due to injury. Not only that, you will also need to regain your full range of motion in the shortest possible time to eliminate any possible complications. It will be difficult initially as you have lost most of the strength previously. Recovery is a long and tedious process that needs to adhere to a schedule religiously. Deviating from it can possibly cause more harm. Rushing through it will also cause more harm than good. So what are some of the simple home exercises that you can do to help you out?

Ankle pumps

Ankle pumps will help to increase ankle dorsiflexion and help build up the shin muscles. Bend your ankles upwards and pull the toes towards you and subsequently away from you. Hold in each position for 10 seconds and repeat for 3 sets of 10 each time. Aim to perform it 3 times daily.

Assisted leg extension

You will need to regain your full range of motion in the shortest possible time. It is also the top priority post surgery. Lie on your stomach with your leg in full extension. Place you good leg below the injured leg and slowly bring it up. Try to bring it beyond the point of pain and hold in the position for 10 seconds. Slowly bring down both legs and repeat. You should try to do this exercise throughout the day whenever possible.

Seated leg extension

This is also another knee flexion exercise that helps to regain range of motion. Sit down on a chair with a back support. Slowly bend your injured knee back to the point of pain and hold for 10 seconds. Slowly return back to the starting point and repeat. Also when possible, try to perform this exercise throughout the day.

Seated leg kicks

Sit down on a chair with a back support. Stretch out your injured knee as much as you can and hold in the position for 10 seconds. Slowly bring back to the starting position and repeat. This exercise will also help to reduce any scarring in the knees and improve the range of motion.

Quad sets

Sit down at the edge of your beg with your legs on the floor. Try to tighten the quad muscles and straighten your legs concurrently. You should be able to feel your quad muscles contracting. Hold it for 10 seconds and relax. Aim to perform at least 100 sets of this exercise daily as it can help to strengthen and firm up the quad muscles to help shield some of the load from your knee.

Recovery from knee surgery is a slow and tedious process. However, do not feel disheartened and aim to do it slow and steady. Do not be frustrated by it and try to rush through it. It will do more harm than good.