Biking for Better Joints: 5 Safety Tips
If you’re among the many mountain bikers and cyclists looking to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic while staying healthy, active, safe, and working on your joint health, then our expert cycling guidelines should help you avoid a variety of injuries.
Bruises, scrapes, and minor cuts are all common for cyclists, and sports medicine specialists frequently see broken collarbones and wrists as well as muscle strains and sprains—but more serious injuries are possible, especially if a cyclist crashes or collides with another rider or a motorist.
When gearing up to go for a ride, follow these safety tips to stay safe and avoid injury:
- Dress for success. Always wear a helmet. Helmets reduce your risk for serious head and brain injuries. Make sure your helmet fits well with a secure and buckled chinstrap, does not impair vision, and has approval from the American National Standards Institute. Additionally, do not wear any loose clothing, and make sure to wear the proper safety gear for mountain biking, such as gloves, body armor, and mountain bike–specific shoes.
- Mind your bike(s). Make sure the bike is the right size for you as well as suited for the area you are riding. Maintain the brakes, tires, and gears on your bike regularly, and keep lights on your bike if you ride at night. Also, supervise children biking at all times, and always pay attention when riding—do not talk or text on your phone or wear headphones.
- Choose a trail right for you. When choosing a trail to ride, don’t exceed your skill level. If the trail has drops, obstacles, or sections outside of your riding ability, walk those areas, especially if the trail is new to you.
- Use extra caution on the road. If you choose to ride on roads, know all the city rules for cyclists. Ride in the direction of traffic while following traffic signs and lights. Use a bike lane if there is one and signal any turns you take. Be defensive and ready to act quickly to avoid collisions.
- Take care outdoors. Avoid riding in inclement weather. Wear sunscreen as needed and stay hydrated by drinking a full bottle of water for each hour you’re riding. Additionally, pace yourself to avoid exhaustion. Try changing riding positions slightly every so often to reduce stress on the same joints and muscle groups.
If you think you’ve suffered a fracture, have muscular pain, or experience joint instability after a fall, see a doctor as soon as possible. If you hit your head or have bleeding that won’t stop after a few minutes, you should go to an emergency room or urgent care facility immediately.
To learn more about bike safety, exercising for joint health, or to be seen by one of our total joint care experts at The Bone & Joint Center for a bone, joint, or muscle injury, call (518) 631-3376 or request an appointment online.