Mountain biking is a fast, exciting sport that is gaining popularity. The type of injuries depend on the type of mountain biking you do, with downhill biking having a higher incidence of injury than biking on flat terrain. Injuries may be acute and traumatic or those resulting from overuse. However, like in any other sport, many of these injuries are preventable. For example, fractures and/or concussions can occur as a result of a fall, but wearing a helmet and protective gear can prevent or reduce the impact of these injuries.
A look at some common injuries:
Many mountain biking injuries occur to the head and upper extremities. A concussion can occur as a result of a blow to the head, either from a fall or from coming into contact with another person or object in a collision. Symptoms may range from dizziness to loss of consciousness. If you are conscious, try to keep warm and do not move until help arrives. Even if symptoms appear to be mild, you should see your doctor as soon as possible, as symptoms could become serious later on. Any dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, excessive sleepiness, loss of appetite, nausea or pins and needles and numbness experienced within a few days of a fall or collision may be the result of a concussion and need to be examined immediately by a health professional.
This is another name for a bruise, which may result from a fall or impact. Scratches and lacerations may be superficial or deep, requiring debris to be removed from underlying layers of the skin. First aid treatment consists of ice and bandaging depending on the nature of the bruise or cut. Physiotherapy for more serious contusions (bruising) is very helpful in helping the body break down the inflammation, thus promoting faster healing rates and less long-term internal scarring.
Neck and back pain
Neck and back pain may be the result of overuse injuries caused by a static riding posture with the neck and shoulders in an upright position and the back curved. Neck pain can be avoided by performing specific neck stretches before and after riding and by increasing the strength of the deep neck flex or muscles which help stabilise the neck. There are also appropriate stretches for the back muscles and improving your core strength which will improve back posture, help stabilise the spine, decrease pain and reduce the risk of overuse back injury. These stretches and strengthening exercises will all be shown to you by your physiotherapist. Taking frequent rest breaks to stretch the neck and back will also help.
Pain in the wrist and hand
This may result from nerve compression – both on the ulnar border (little finger) and the radial side (involving the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers). Symptoms resemble those of carpal tunnel syndrome, with pain, pins and needles and numbness in the fingers being common symptoms. This type of pain can be relieved by not gripping the handlebars as tightly and changing hand position frequently. Wearing gloves and padding the handlebars will also prevent hand and wrist pain. Physiotherapy treatment to relieve symptoms in combination with a physiotherapy prescribed stretching and strengthening programme for the wrist, hand and fingers joints and muscles will help your recovery and prevent re-injury.
Patellofemoral (knee) pain
Patellofemoral knee syndrome may result from having the saddle too far forward or too low. Knee pain is felt at the front of the knee and there may be swelling and tenderness and a feeling of the knee giving way. Pain is felt with climbing stairs or squatting. Treatment with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) is needed, followed by extensive physiotherapy treatment.
Metatarsalgia, Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis may all result from incorrect foot positioning on the bike. Foot pain may be felt in the forefoot when you press down, also at the back of the heel or under the heel. Rest and ice together with physiotherapy treatment which may include strapping the foot, as well as stretching the plantar fascia and prescribing exercises to strengthen the intrinsic (deep) foot muscles will help relieve symptoms so you can return to mountain biking.
Mountain biking injuries can be many and varied, depending on the type of biking you engage in. These injuries are often preventable; however, no matter how careful we are, injuries may arise either as a result of trauma or overuse. If you suffer any of the above or any other injuries, please come in and see us. We are here to help.