Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation Offers Tips for Cycling Safety
April 18, 2012
West Orange, NJ – Nearly 90 million American adults ride a bike at least once a year. Of those, more than 30 million ride for recreation and a few million commuters cycle to work every day. And while cycling is good for an individual's health and fitness, as well as for the environment, the sport does present the risk of injury. t is a repetitive sport that requires high-intensity training and duration and preparation is essential to avoiding injury.
"The most frequent cycling injuries, which include lower back and shoulder pain, knee damage or numbing of the toes and feet, are often caused by incorrect riding posture, pushing the body past its capacity, and using equipment that is not in good working order," said Mahlon Stewart, P.T., DPT, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. "However, most injuries can be avoided by taking a few precautions and doing appropriate stretching and exercises."
Kessler Institute, one of the nation's leading providers of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation services, suggests the following guidelines:
- Always wear a helmet. Head injuries account for 60% of the nation's 800 annual cycling deaths.
- Make sure your bicycle is properly fitted so that you will be able to ride in the correct biomechanical position.
- Performing stretches for five to ten minutes before cycling will open up the hips and spine and help reduce joint and muscle stiffness.
- Avoid pedaling in high gear for long periods of time. This can lead to overuse injuries. Shifting to a lower gear will help you to get more exercise while placing less stress on the knees.
- Keep elbows slightly flexed to avoid "road shock" from transferring to the arms and upper body. This will help reduce the risk of shoulder injury.
- Adjust shoes and straps and make sure your feet are comfortable to avoid possible numbness or burning caused by tight shoes, road vibration or too much uphill climbing.
- Maintain a relaxed grip and change hand positions frequently to avoid injury to the palms or fingers, and keep wrist straight and wearing padded gloves to minimize the effects of vibration.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Following a ride, always be sure to stretch.
"Be sure to consult a medical professional if you are experiencing any symptoms of injury or overuse," said Stewart. "In most cases, doing preventative exercises, recognizing symptoms of injury, and creating a post-workout routine will help you to avoid injury, and perform at a higher level."