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5 Common Mountain Bike Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Almost every sport has an element of danger. There are some sports, however, that are carry more risk of injury. Mountain biking is one of them. Mountain bike injuries and crashes are inevitable, as much as there are ways to avoid them sometimes.

These injuries fall under two categories – injuries sustained through crashes and those that happen as a result of over-training or poor preparation.

In this blog post, we’ll focus on mountain bike injuries that come about from lack of fitness, preparation, and fueling. We’ll also give you some more tips on how to avoid them.

Mountain bike injuries

Lower back pain

Given how hard the legs work when riding a bike, it is easy to assume that the knees will be most vulnerable to overuse injury. However, research says otherwise.

Lower back pain is one of the most common mountain bike injuries. Even young cyclists without history of back pain experience it.

Bending over for a long period of time is the main cause of lower back pain. To reduce the chances of back pain, you’ll need to continually adjust your position as you go through different parts of the trail. Also, it is important to move your body weight so that your center of gravity is between the front and rear wheels.

Cycling-related back pain may also be due to poor bike fit. Many cyclists ride bikes that are too big for them. Also, check your saddle height. A saddle that is too high will cause your hips to rock side to side when you pedal, leading to lower back pain.

Knee pain

Knee pain is a common cyclist’s ailment. If you are someone who spends long hours on the saddle, then you have probably felt a sharp twinge in one or both of your knees.

Obviously, knee pain comes from overdoing it. You push yourself to your limits. You ride longer and faster than what you’re accustomed to, which causes pain and inflammation of your connective tissues.

Skills take time to master. The more you ride, the better you’ll become. Keep in mind, though, that skills take time to master. Don’t push yourself too hard.

Knee pain may also be due to poor pedal cleat placement, hard sprinting, using too high of a gear, saddle too high or low. Consult with your bike shop about proper set up. If the pain persists, consult your doctor.

Saddle sores

Saddle sores can be an uncomfortable by-product of cycling. Painful red bumps may develop on your thighs and groin area. In most cases, it is caused by chafing or sweating.

You don’t have to ride for long to get saddle sores. For some, it may take a few minutes before the pain in the rear starts taking the joy out of your ride.

Saddle sores may seem like a natural part of cycling, but there are ways to prevent it. One way to reduce saddle soreness is by wearing cycling shorts. Look for cycling shorts with few or no seams, so there is less friction against the skin.

Choose your saddle wisely. When shopping, try it before you buy it. Try a few saddles until you find the right one for you. Ultimately, get a proper bike fit. The right saddle height can minimize side-to-side movement and make a real difference in your cycling performance and comfort.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Ever suffered from pain, tingling or numbness on your hands and wrists while riding? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may be the culprit.  

Carpal Tunnel is caused by compression of the median nerve at the wrist. It is characterized by numbness or tingling on the fingers or weakness in the hand.  

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can occur as a result of road vibration, too much pressure on the hands and wrist, and the wrist being held in one position for an extended period of time. To avoid CTS, keep a loose grip on the bars. Also, vary your position on the handlebars at least once every 15 minutes. By changing your position, you reduce the risk of compression. We also recommend investing on a good pair cycling gloves that has a lot of padding or gel in the palm.

Dehydration

One of the most common mistakes cyclists make is forgetting to drink water. Even mild dehydration can negatively affect your performance on the bike, and that’s the start of your problem.

You may start getting cramps. You may also see a significant dip in the number of watts you can push. If you get dehydrated enough, you’ll start to have some cognitive effects. You might get distracted in the woods and end up smacking into a tree.

Avoid the dreaded bonk by keeping your body fluid level topped off. Fill up your body’s water reserve before your ride. Don’t wait to reach for your water bottle until you feel thirsty. Sip frequently while riding. Avoid flavored drinks as they are full of sugar and chemicals you don’t need.

How to reduce the chances of mountain bike injuries

Mountain bike injuries are inevitable. But there are some things you can do to reduce your time off the bike.  

To reduce the risk of injuries, make sure that you warm up before each ride. Spend 5 to 10 minutes doing light stretching exercises before your ride. If you don’t have time to warm up, then go easy on the first 10 to 15 minutes.

Don’t forget to check your bike before going for a ride. It is also best to fuel properly for every ride. Riding on an empty stomach doesn’t just wreck your performance, it can also lead to muscle fiber damage. Lastly, don’t skimp on rest days. Overtraining can lead to muscle damage and a reduction in endurance and strength.

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