Distracted driving and poorly marked bike lanes make bicycling a dangerous sport. With more than 200 trails around the Valley, bicyclists are getting off the road and on the trail for two-wheeled fun. But trail riding has its own set of concerns. Whether you’re on the road or on the trail, here are some of the aches and pains of riding a bike.
Tony Nguyen, MD, a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and trauma with The CORE Institute, says broken collar bones, sprains and wrist fractures top the list of mountain biking injuries.
Broken collar bones usually result from being thrown from the bicycle and having a direct impact on the shoulder, while wrist fractures often resulting from trying to break a fall.
The best way to prevent these injuries is to monitor your speed so you don’t lose control of the bike and go easy when using the front brake to avoid being ejected off the bike. Another solution is to walk unfamiliar trails first to learn the terrain and how your bike will respond.
Lower back pain
Since the very nature of mountain biking requires hours spent hunched over, the sport can wreak havoc on the lower back.
Strengthening core muscles such as abs, back and hips will reduce the risk of low back injuries.
Additionally, strong core muscles are required for balance needed when navigating rocky terrain.
Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome
The IT band, a band of tissue running from the hip to the shin, is a common source of knee pain sustained in mountain biking. The band crosses and stabilizes the hip and knee joints. Symptoms manifest as swelling and soreness and can usually be treated by icing the area, using anti-inflammatory medication and light stretching.
Mountain biking isn’t intended to be a contact sport, but concussions remain a top concern when mountain biking.
Dr. Nguyen explains, “Concussions can be sustained in a crash involving a direct blow to the head as well as a violent collision that does not include striking the head.”
He describes a concussion as an alteration in the way the brain functions with symptoms that include: headache, loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia, dizziness, photophobia (extreme sensitivity to light), vomiting, slurred speech and fatigue.
Some crashes are inevitable, so it’s important to wear a properly fitted helmet.
If you experience any of these symptoms after a crash our collision, it’s important to seek medical advice.