Staying healthy and getting fit are laudable goals. For many New York City cyclists, those are just two of many motivations for hitting the road day after day. Unfortunately, far too many cyclists end up with injuries that sideline them not only from their beloved hobby and passion, but also from their work and other activities.
Cycling injuries can arise from a host of causes. While you can't control all of these factors, simply knowing what they are can be helpful as you ride.
Injuries from overuse
Some injuries are the result of cycling too long or too hard. Overuse injuries range from pulled muscles, strains and tendonitis to debilitating knee and back pain that takes months or years to overcome.
You can prevent these injuries by following these tips:
- Set a reasonable training program that gives your body plenty of time to rest and adjust to increasing levels of effort.
- Take the time to warm up before each ride and stretch afterward. Following particularly intense rides, consider an ice bath or foam rolling to soothe sore muscles.
- Don't take on races that are more than you can handle for your current level of fitness.
- Use proper form and technique while cycling.
- Don't push through pain; instead, scale back and give your body a chance to recover.
By warding off these injuries - or nipping them in the bud when they do arise - you'll benefit in the long run.
Injuries from accidents
Accidents are another common cause of bicycle-related injuries. When they involve a collision with a vehicle, the injuries are often severe: broken bones, head trauma, lacerations, back and neck injuries, and road rash, to name a few. Such significant injuries can affect all areas of your life.
So how can you reduce your risk of an accident while riding?
- Wear a helmet: If you don't think that a helmet is important when riding, consider the fact that around half of young people hospitalized due to bicycle accidents suffer from traumatic brain injuries. Without a helmet, you are 14 times more likely to die in a bicycle crash than you are if you are wearing one.
- Make yourself visible: Proper gear is essential for a safe ride - especially if you're out before dawn or after dark. Use lights and reflective gear to help vehicles see you.
- Be strategic (especially in traffic): Don't make unpredictable movements. Use hand signals to alert drivers of your intentions. Ride in bike lanes whenever possible, and choose routes that minimize heavy traffic.
By following these tips, you can avoid undue risks and ensure that cycling remains an enjoyable activity for a long time to come.