Cycling is a popular sport, primarily because it is a safe and fun way to exercise outdoors. Many of us enjoy going for a bike ride, whether it is around the block, down a trail or a 100-mile route. For the most part, cycling is a very safe sport; however, it does have inherent risks. Here are the most common types of bicycling injuries, and how people can reduce their risk of these injuries.
Solution: Wear a Helmet
All bikers, no matter how experienced they are, risk falling and suffering head trauma. The chances of crashing can be reduced by staying in control and riding safely, but the probability of a fall can never be reduced to zero. In the event of a crash, helmets save heads. One study in Australia found that helmets reduced head injuries by 45 percent (McDermott FT, et al. 1993).
If a helmet does sustain contact in a crash, then it must be replaced. Even though there might be no visible cracks, there will be micro-cracks as the plastic will be stressed and weakened.
Solution: Wear Gloves
Compression neuropathy is the medical term for losing feeling in one’s extremities when the nerves are compressed. Cyclists might experience this after several hours of riding. At its worst, loss of feeling in one’s fingertips can occur. However, this condition is typically temporary and usually does not cause permanent damage. Wearing gloves can help reduce compression neuropathy.
Lower Back Pain
Solution: Seat Adjustment
Many people experience lower back pain due to cycling. Sitting hunched over handlebars for hours is most certainly not what mothers have in mind when they tell children to, Sit up! Aside from muscle relaxants, which can be used after a ride, adjusting the seat is the best way to combat lower back pain. Lowering the front of the seat, so that the seat is positioned at a 10 to 15 degree angle, can help. There also are modified seats, some with a center grove and others without a nose, both of which can help.
Solution: Combine Strategies
Due to the high pressure placed on the pelvic area when cycling, issues around cyclists’ genitals can arise. At their worst, they include impotence. Largely, the research regarding these risks is incomplete. One study claimed three hours of cycling per week can cause impotence, while another demonstrated that 28 hours of biking per week posed risks (Marceau L, et al. 2001), (Sommer F, et al. 2001b).
Complete solutions that prevent impotence are lacking, but there are several strategies cyclists can combine. Installing a modified seat, standing while cycling and reducing one’s weekly distance can all help. For most people, these gentle issues should not prevent them from enjoying an afternoon bike ride. More serious bikers might want to consult their doctor regarding these issues.
After reading this, one might have second thoughts about taking a bike ride. Despite the above concerns, biking remains a safe sport. When compared to other sports, it is extremely enjoyable and comes with a low risk level.