The beauty of northern Utah provides the perfect backdrop for bicycling. Unfortunately, the terrain can be as treacherous as it is breathtaking. Cycling injuries not only keep you off the trails but they may have the potential to sideline you with serious complications. Follow these safety suggestions to ensure you stay safe while enjoying the trails and byways.
Bicyclists Face a High Risk for Accident and Injury
Would you believe that bicyclists are at greater risk for crashes, injury and death than motorists? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, in 2013, more than 900 bicyclists were killed and almost 500,000 visited the emergency room with injuries obtained while cycling.* Adolescents and young adults face the highest risk, but these dangerous incidents cross every demographic.
Protect Yourself to Prevent Injury
- Ride Defensively
- Safe cyclists learn and always obey the rules of the road. Ride with traffic, never against, and heed traffic lights, stop signs and directional markings. Use recognized hand signals for stops and turns. Be aware at all times and never assume that motorists have seen you.
- Improve Your Visibility
- The better vehicle drivers can see you, the safe you are on the road. Improve your visibility by wearing reflective clothing at night and light-colored or flourescent items during the daylight hours. Add lights and reflectors to your bike as well, both at the front and the back.
- Always Wear a Helmet
- CDC statistics prove that wearing a helmet is the most effective way to avoid cycling injuries, for riders of every age.* Helmets should be fitted properly and have a strap that ensures a snug, reliable fit. Choose one that contacts your head all the way around and that extends far enough down to provide ample side protection.
Common Bicycling Injuries
- Joint and Extremity Injuries
- These injuries generally involve the muscles, tendons, ligaments or bone. You may experience problems from a fall, overuse or unusual exertion. If you experience an extremity or joint injury, elevate the area and apply ice. Use a compression wrap and keep weight off the extremity. If pain or discomfort persists or worsens, especially when accompanied by swelling, seek treatment from a sports medicine or orthopedic doctor.
- Injuries of the Head and Neck
- Any neck or head injury requires immediately medical evaluation, as it is often difficult to determine the extent of damage. Even a mild concussion can result in permanent damage without prompt attention and treatment. Seek the attention of a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating head injuries.
When to Seek Treatment
Serious injury requires immediate medical attention, to reduce the risk of complications and extended downtime. This is especially true with any risk of head injury. When in doubt, seek the opinion of a sports medicine specialist.
Although bicycling may pose some risks, you can minimize the potential for injury by taking these important precautions. Protect yourself and you’ll stay safe and enjoy the trails all season long.
This article reviewed by Dr. Travis McDonald.