HealthView column: Injury prevention for cyclists |

HealthView column: Injury prevention for cyclists

Mountain biker crashing.
Shutterstock image

The Roaring Fork Valley really comes to life this time of year. While winter activities attract people from near and far, the summer is why people stay.

Located in the depths of our beautiful rolling hills to the roaring rivers, the valley is filled with activities from the water to the land. It is no surprise that the nature of the injuries we see coincide with the changing of the seasons.

One of the most common summer activities available here is cycling/biking.

Whether you are a mountain biker, a road biker or a commuter, this valley has an abundance of opportunities for beginners up through expert trails both on and off the pavement. The rise in e-bikes has also introduced more users to the trails.

The most common types of injury seen in bikers are head and face trauma, and fractures to the upper extremity, such as wrist, forearm and hands. As a shoulder specialist, the injuries I treat most often are fractured clavicles, otherwise known as the collarbone.

Your clavicle is a long bone between your shoulder blade and sternum that is easily identifiable by the bump it can create visible under the skin. It is a unique bone, highly susceptible to trauma. When an accident occurs, causing the participant to fall on their shoulder, or with their arm outstretched, the clavicle often takes on the impact of that fall. Because of this, the clavicle is considered to be the most fractured of our bones.

There is always a chance of injury, even to the most experienced of riders on the easiest of trails. However, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of injury and have a safe, enjoyable ride.

Below are some of the tips I share with my patients:

• Practicing good trail etiquette, such as yielding to uphill riders and riding within your ability level can make sudden stops more infrequent, and decrease your risk of falling. Work your way up in mileage and make sure your bike is tuned, clean and running well.

• Replace your helmet every three to five years. Glues and resins used in helmets can affect the materials over time. Hair oil, body fluids and normal wear-and-tear all contribute to helmet degradation.

• Stretch muscle groups such as your hip flexors and hamstrings both before and after you ride. After vigorous activity, blood can pool in the large muscles in the legs and cause fainting or dizziness — stretching helps to alleviate that and any lactic acid buildup that occurs.

• Cross training with core exercises and activities that work adjacent muscle groups is helpful for balance and coordination.

• Staying hydrated throughout your ride fends off muscle cramping and fatigue, especially in hot weather. Even in cooler weather, dehydration is possible if you don’t drink enough fluids while riding.

While we encourage a safe and active lifestyle here. We also understand some accidents are unavoidable. Many injuries that occur while riding may be easily treated at home.

However, knowing when to seek professional medical advice is also a key to a successful recovery. If there is persistent swelling around a joint, painful “pops,” recurring instability, consistent pain during or after an activity, or pain that does not respond after a period of rest, it may be time to see a physician.

Since 1994, Dr. Ferdinand “Tito” Liotta, MD, has helped restore the health of athletes and adults of all ability levels in the Roaring Fork community as part of the Glenwood Orthopaedic Center at Valley View Hospital team.

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