Skin abrasions basically mean cuts and grazes, or damage to the soft protective tissue in the top layers of skin. These are often sustained when falling off a mountain bike and can vary drastically in severity depending on whether a rider is wearing protective gear. More serious cuts can damage nerve tissue or rupture larger blood vessels which would require hospital treatment. Upon excessive pain, swelling or bleeding seek professional medical advice. Prevent skin abrasions by avoiding falls with a balanced posture and wearing protective padding over the knees, hips and elbows.
Acromio Clavicular (AC) Joint Sprain
Also known as shoulder separation and refers to the damage of the AC joint ligament situated at outer side of the collar bone where it is attached to the front of the shoulder blade. Pain may be initially widespread but more localised later on. Prevent an AC joint sprain by avoiding falls and going over the handlebars with even weight distribution on the bike and good balance. If you are injured, rest and apply ice, immobilise the shoulder in a sling and see a specialist doctor.
Knee/lower back pain
The repetitive nature of cycling means painful knee and lower back injuries are triggered by overuse and prolonged bending. The Ilio Tibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBFS) or ‘runner’s knee’ can lead to inflammation around the knee. Back pain, known as Sciatica, can be caused by a herniated disc pressing against the structures in the back. Setting up your mountain bike correctly will prevent knee and back injuries. The size of the frame and the saddle height are important considerations; the knee does not want to overextend when the pedal reaches the bottom of its revolution, and the back does not want to be hunched up or overreaching on the frame. A knee strap can relieve symptoms for those that wish to continue cycling but generally physiotherapy and pain relieving is recommended.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
This is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist which provides feeling to your thumb, index and middle fingers. The result is a numb and tingly hand. Symptoms normally go away quickly after resting the hand but they can become chronic, inducing pain to the wrist, hand and occasionally shoulder. Straightening your wrist and reducing the weight it bears by raising the handlebars slightly are preventative measures. If symptoms persist, surgery may be necessary to easy pressure on the nerve.
Broken collar bone
A broken collar bone, or clavicle, is a very common mountain biking injury and is normally caused when the rider falls onto an outstretched hand. To best avoid this injury try not to fall, especially over the handlebars as this makes a rider instinctively put their hands out as protection. As you ride, watch out for objects that may trigger a fall such as tree stumps. If an injury is sustained, pain can be alleviated with a shoulder sling, ice packs and painkillers but professional medical advice should be sought.
Doctor Lee Jeys at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital said “We do not want to put people off mountain biking, but we do want to get people to make sure they are protected”. Invest in the protective gear to reduce the severity of injury and make sure you’re covered with one of our comprehensive policies today. We can cover you whether you choose to stick to trails or race competitively.