How to relieve leg pain after cycling

Riding a bicycle regularly is a great way to improve cardiovascular health. Also, it helps to increase muscle strength and decrease anxiety. Sometimes people experience the opposite by pushing themselves too hard. In this article, we will answer “How to relieve leg pain after cycling” for you. Whether you are a professional or just starting out, you will also learn some effective ways to lower leg pain after cycling and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

Possible causes of leg pain after cycling

There are a few reasons that can cause leg pain, for example:

  • Overstretched muscles can cause leg pain. If you go for a long ride, it can cause muscle fatigue as repetitive motions stress your legs over time.
  • Insufficient amounts of potassium, sodium, and magnesium in your body are often the primary reason for leg pain. 
  • If you do not drink enough water during cycling, your muscles won’t get enough nutrients to work properly. It may lead to cramps in the calf muscle.
  • An inappropriate bike outfit can put extra stress on specific muscles and joints. Wearing a tight outfit can cause poor blood flow, which can be the reason for inner thigh muscle pain after cycling.
  • Improper cycling methods or sitting positions put the muscles on the leg under excessive stress. It can be the reason for buttock pain after cycling.
  • Inadequate warm-up or cool-down of the calf, hamstring, and quadriceps muscles can also lead to leg pain.

How to prepare for your ride

How to prepare for your ride

Proper preparation before every ride can help you reduce the possibility of experiencing leg pain and injuries after cycling. Here are the guidelines you must follow to exercise correctly:

  • Some stretching exercises that focus on the calf, hamstring, and quadriceps muscles can help prevent the risk of developing leg pain. Try stretching exercises both before and after cycling to have a flexible body. As a flexible body increases the capability of tension in tendons.
  • Riding for a long time can cause dehydration. Drink enough water before, during, and after your ride.
  • Eat healthy food. Make sure the food contains protein and complex carbohydrates so that your muscles get sufficient energy before your ride.
  • Maintain/Examine the bike regularly. Remember that if you are not taking proper care of it, it won’t provide the ride you’re wishing for. So, if it is possible, check through a checklist before every ride.
  • Wear proper cycling gear in order to avoid unpleasant circumstances. Padded shorts and comfortable shoes will help you maintain proper balance on the bike.

Adjusting your bike and fit

Here are some essential adjustments you can make to avoid leg pain and injuries:

  • The best leg injury prevention starts with adjusting the saddle of the bike in accordance with your height. When you are seated on the bike, your knees should slightly bend while you stroke the pedal at the bottom position. Also, adjust the handlebar height and position so that your upper body is properly aligned with the bike. 
  • To decrease stress on your legs, wear shoes with a good fit. It will help you maintain proper leg alignment and balance with the bike, which ultimately will help you prevent leg injuries.

Learn more about  How to wear cycling shorts properly.

Techniques you can follow during cycling

Here are a few techniques you can follow to minimize the risk of developing leg pain during cycling and learn how to exercise correctly.

  • While pedaling, keep your knees aligned with your feet.
  • Avoid pedaling in high gear for long stretches of time since it might put too much stress on your joints and muscles.
  • Keep your body relaxed and avoid bending over the handlebars.

Stretching Exercises You Can Do Both Before and After Cycling

stretching exercise to do

There are some stretching exercises you can do before and after cycling to avoid and relieve unpleasant leg pain after cycling. Doing the following will definitely help reduce muscle tension as well as boost your flexibility. 

Hamstring stretch: Position yourself on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Reach forward and try to touch your toes. Hold for thirty seconds before repeating the process with the opposite leg. 

Quadriceps stretch: Now, stand up. Bend one knee and hold your ankle while pulling your heel closer to your buttocks. Hold for thirty seconds before repeating with the opposite leg. It will help you with upper thigh pain after cycling.

Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Step back with one foot and press your heel into the ground. Continue for thirty seconds before repeating with the other leg.

Here are a few more things you should keep in mind.

  • Increase the intensity of your exercise gradually. 
  • Do not decrease your activity suddenly. It can lead to weakness and increase the chance of injuries.
  • If you are already experiencing leg pain or injuries, please don’t hesitate to visit a physical therapist for an appropriate exercise guideline.

Why do my thighs hurt after cycling?

Increasing lactic acid in the quadriceps muscle is the reason for thigh pain. The more pressure you put on the pedal, the more lactic acid is produced in the area.

Should I ride my bike if my legs are sore?

Yes, you can ride your bike if you are experiencing sore legs. But remember to not overdo it. Otherwise, your muscles will become more sore, and it will take more time to heal.