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Five ways to reduce your risk of over-use injury on the bike

5. Ride, rest, recover

While many riders understand that recovery between workouts is key to building fitness, recovery is also a commonly overlooked injury prevention tool.

Allison Westfahl, strength coach to Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson and co-author of “Tom Danielson’s Core Advantage,” (VeloNews’ parent company, Competitor Group, Inc., also owns publisher VeloPress), relates cycling to skiing to explain the correlation between fatigue and injury.

“A lot of people tear their ACL during skiing… during the last hour that the slopes are open,” she said. “Your muscles are fatigued, you’ve been skiing all day, and you start to take shortcuts… And you start to get sloppy. And the same thing happens on the bike.”

“Over the span of a season, you’re constantly getting broken down, you’re doing five-hour rides, you’re not recovering, you’ve got this little nagging thing, and it used to be every three rides, and now it’s every ride,” Westfahl said. “When one muscle is injured or under-performing, then another muscle next to it has to step in and try to pick up the slack.”

This, she said, is where fatigue can lead to or accelerate an on-the-bike injury.

“It ends up being this whole chain reaction of, if a muscle is not doing the job it’s supposed to, something’s going to get injured,” Westfahl said. “It might be a muscle, it might be a joint, it might be a tendon.”

Westfahl’s advice for using recovery to reduce the risk of injury is simple: “Give yourself a break. Rest.”

Lower extremity illustration and photos of Tom Danielson republished with permission of VeloPress from the new book “Tom Danielson’s Core Advantage: Core Strength for Cycling’s Winning Edge” by Tom Danielson and Allison Westfahl. Danielson photos by Brad Kaminski.

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