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Wednesday, July 2, 2003
Updated: July 14, 9:55 AM ET
Game Time - Cyclist

By Content provided byProfessional Team Physicians



Cycling Skills to Avoid Head and Body Injuries

Crashes are an unfortunate risk of cycling. Though studies have shown that most crashes cause only minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes, the possibility of more serious injuries, particularly to the head and neck, makes prevention measures especially important.

All parts of the body are vulnerable to injuries stemming from impact with the road or trail. Protecting yourself takes a combination of proper riding technique, physical conditioning, and correct safety gear.

SKILLS

The phrase "it's like riding a bicycle" casts cycling as a skill one learns once and never forgets. While this may be accurate, it is never too late to finetune your cycling skills to help you avoid injury.

These include:

CONDITIONING

Spills happen to even the most experienced riders, and no amount of conditioning can help you when you are flying over the handlebars and headed for the pavement. However, you can reduce your chances of reaching that point by keeping yourself wellconditioned and ready to handle any obstacles that come your way.

For example, strengthening your upper body, including your arms and wrists, can help prevent the handlebars from slipping out of your grasp when you are riding over rough terrain.

Wrist strengthening exercises

Maintaining your conditioning also can lessen fatigue and improve concentration, both of which can help you avoid injury.

GEAR

Helmets should be standard equipment for all cyclists. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute says helmets reduce the risk of head injury by about 85 percent.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a helmet:

Wearing gloves, as well as pads for your knees, shins, hips, elbows, and forearms, is the best way to minimize the cuts and bruises that occur when you take a spill on a hard surface. Protective pads come with and without hard plastic outer shells, and usually are contoured to fit a specific body part.

In addition, some biking shorts and pants have extra room to insert hip and leg padding.

For more information on common injuries of the active individual, visit ActivePain.com. Check out Active Pain Council's Diagnostic Tool. This tool allows the active individual to further analyze injuries and take strides to prevent such pain in the future.