At BodaHealth we see different kinds of sports injuries increase during different times of the year. When the snow has melted from the mountains around Vancouver, we tend to see an uptick in mountain biking injuries. This is a mixed blessing; Vancouver has some of the best mountain biking trails in the world. Near the city, you can bike the trails of Mt. Fromme, Mt. Seymour, Cypress Mountain, the trails at SFU in Burnaby, as well as the mountains around Port Moody and Coquitlam. Further away from the city you can test yourself on the trails at Squamish, Whistler and even Abbotsford—just to name a few!
What are the Most Common Mountain Bike Injuries?
Sometimes mountain biking injuries happen. At BodaHealth, some of us are mountain bikers and we’re also able to help mountain bikers who have become injured. Some of the most common injuries associated with mountain biking include:
Shoulder Injuries. This can include separating your shoulder at the AC (acromioclavicular) joint and a fractured collarbone. An AC joint separation is a ligament tear between your collarbone (also called clavicle) and the joint at the highest point of your shoulder. When these ligaments become torn, your shoulder becomes unstable and the weight of your arm causes your shoulder blade to rise and your shoulder to become malformed. An AC separation most frequently occurs from a direct hit to the shoulder.
In contrast, a broken collarbone is a fracture of the bone that connects your shoulder to your sternum, at the center of your rib cage. This is a very painful injury and can make is hard for you to lift your arm. Clean breaks of the collarbone can usually heal with immobilization, however more complicated breaks may need surgery. Broken collarbones are a fairly common biking injury that occur when you flip over your handlebars (we call this an endo crash) and try to break your fall with an arm, which places the impact on your collarbone.
Wrist Injuries. Your wrists are also prone to injury from mountain biking. This includes carpal tunnel syndrome, which is from repeated pressure on the median nerve that runs through your wrist and into your hand. Riders who don’t have their brakes set up at the right angle are at a higher risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Spending a lot of time with your weight on the handlebars can cause your hand to feel numb and tingly. Frequently, when you get off your bike, the numbness goes away. However, with a lot of riding, these symptoms can become chronic, causing wrist pain and prolonged numbness in your hand. In a way similar to collarbone fractures, reaching out to break a fall can also result in a broken wrist or a break in the bones in your lower arm. Because your arm is outstretched and your wrist is one of the weaker points in your arm, wrist fractures occur frequently from mountain biking falls gone bad.
Knee Injuries. Knee overuse injuries are also a concern for mountain bikers due to the repetitive nature of the sport. Most common is inflammation of the Iliotibial Band (ITB) which runs from your hip to your knee on the outside of your leg. This kind if injury is called Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome, but is also commonly known as runner’s knee. ITB inflammation can be caused by overuse alone, but it’s more commonly due to improperly fitting equipment, such as saddle height, the angle of your foot position and the forward/backward positioning of your saddle. While overuse injuries of the knee are common, it’s also possible to sustain a traumatic knee injury from a crash or hitting a tree or boulder at speed.
Concussions. No discussion of mountain biking injuries is complete without mentioning the possibility of a concussion occurring from head trauma. A concussion is a kind of traumatic brain injury that results from a hit to the head that causes your head and brain rapidly whiplash inside your skull. Collisions with trees, rocks and other bikers and crashes can result in a concussion. The risk of a head trauma is higher in downhill mountain bikers because they’re usually traveling at high speed when an accident occurs.
At BodaHealth, we understand mountain bikers, because we are mountain bikers. More importantly, we have helped many people heal from injuries that have occurred as the result of mountain biking. We draw on a number of healing strategies and modalities, including:
- The use of fine needles to heal has been known for its effectiveness for thousands of years. When it comes to treating injuries, acupuncture can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, promote better circulation in the injured area and speed up the healing process.
- Cold laser therapy. This is the use of a low level laser that gently and painlessly penetrates deep into your body’s tissues to stimulate changes at the cellular level. Cold laser can help reduce pain, treat inflammation and help rebuild injured tissue, including scar tissue, ligaments and tendons—all of which translates into faster healing.
- Shockwave therapy. Through the use of sound waves produced by a hand-held device, shock wave therapy can be effective for reducing pain and healing connective tissue. Shockwave therapy stimulates your body to produce more fibroblasts, which are cells that help build and heal connective tissue, such as ligaments, tendons and the fibrous sheaths surrounding your muscles. In addition, shockwave therapy helps calm your nerve endings at the injury site, which reduces the sensation of pain.
- Massage therapy. Massage therapy can play an important role in injury healing. It promotes circulation throughout your musculoskeletal tissues, helps to loosen tight muscles and can provide pain relief—all of which help speed up the healing process.
- Naturopathic medicine. At Bodahealth, our naturopathic physician may recommend supplementation in order to reduce your pain and promote healing.
While prevention such as warming up, stretching, strengthening, using the proper equipment and having a great coach are very important, sometimes mountain biking injuries are unavoidable. Depending on the nature of your injury, our practitioners at BodaHealth will determine the best route for healing. Whether your injury involves a concussion, a separated shoulder or tendonitis from overuse, we’re able to help get you back on the trails as soon as possible. For more information on how we can help you recover from your mountain biking injury, please contact us today.