We all like to eulogise about ‘pain and suffering’ that we go through on our epic bike rides, our races and our hard training sessions.
No pain, no gain. Pain is temporary, glory is forever. HTFU. Blah blah blah…
But that’s the ‘good’ pain that comes with working really hard. The rewards are performances that stand out from our everyday and the pain goes away as soon as we ease off. The pain is quite specific too: it’s in the big muscles that power the bike: the quads and the glutes; and also the lungs.
There are other forms of pain too. Bad pain. Pain that need not, and should not, be part of everyday cycling.
Your hands and arms should not hurt.
Your neck and shoulders should not hurt.
Your backside and undercarriage should not hurt.
Your knees should not hurt.
Your feet should not hurt.
Your back should not hurt*.
If any of those hurt there’s probably something wrong with either the set up of your bike or the way that you’re riding it.
Every week I see people who just assumed that some aches and pains were part and parcel of cycling. Some are newcomers to cycling, but many have been ‘enjoying’ their riding through secretly gritted teeth for many years.
* Why the asterisk? Because back pain is much more widespread than cycling, so many cyclists are likely to experience back pain that is not cycling related. Poor bike setup can both cause and exacerbate back pain. However with a good setup the back is supported at both ends and, with good pedaling technique, is under virtually no compressive or torsional stress. In fact, if you suffer from back pain you should find that cycling is a relief.