Safety in Numbers – 13 Tips for Staying Safe on Your Mountain Bike
Updated: Feb 26
As more and more of us have been taking to our bikes, particularly during the Covid-19 lockdown, we thought it was a good time to produce some resources that could help you both treat or manage most commonly experience bike-related injuries.
There are two main types of mountain biking injuries, those caused by falling off, otherwise known as acute or traumatic injuries, and those issues caused by overtraining, biomechanical stresses, often due to muscle imbalances, and/or incorrect bike set-up, often referred to as chronic injuries.
In road cycling, injuries are much more likely to be chronic ones due to the high repetition of each pedal cycle, whereas in mountain biking there’s a much higher incidence of traumatic injuries because of unpredictable terrain, varying speeds and the risk of crashing or skidding into things like trees or rocks!
The most common overuse (chronic injuries) in cycling tend to be knee pain, back and/or neck pain, iliotibial band or Achilles tendon pain, hip and hand pain or burning feet.
The good news is that most of these injuries can be prevented because most of them come down to muscle imbalances, incorrect bike set up or insufficient conditioning or fitness.
If you’re a mountain bike fiend then you’re more likely to suffer from acute or traumatic injuries which result from falling off, particularly grazes or skin wounds or more seriously fractures, dislocations or ligament or tendon injuries.
Here are 13 things you can do that will significantly reduce your risk of suffering an injury while you’re out on your bike:
Warm up before each ride and get your body accustomed to the upcoming activity
Make sure to take adequate rest days to allow your body to heal and adapt
Fuel yourself properly for every ride so you reduce the risk of suffering from fatigue
Make sure to check your bike and make sure wheels are fitted tightly and brakes and gears are working
Wear a cycle helmet - more than 80% of cycling-related deaths are due to head injuries, do we need to say more?
Wear cycle glasses to protect you against wind, mud, dirt, sand, insects and branches
If you’re out on your mountain bike, carry out a ‘recce’ before a downhill section
Wear knee and elbow pads as long as they don’t compromise your cycling action to protect those joints in the event of a fall
Use gloves with wrist pads and make sure you have good suspension to reduce the risk of wrist and hand injury
Stay well-hydrated as this helps you avoid fatigue
Ride within your skill level and get off if you come to a section that you feel is out of your depth
Don’t do too much too soon – make sure you build up your time/mileage over time to allow your body to adapt
Prepare your body to make sure your body by building up core strength and isometric strength in your arms and legs. Your physical therapist can help with exercise programmes here.
We’ve put together a range of advice leaflets on various aspects of staying safe and treating and preventing the most common cycling injuries, whether you’re on a mountain bike or a road bike. You can find more info at the following link: https://bit.ly/3qZsafX
As always, if you have any questions or would like any additional information please get in touch.