There is a risk in everything we do in life. Whether it is driving a car, or riding your mountain bike, the possibility of getting injured is always there. By reading and following these easy steps you can significantly reduce or prevent mountain bike injuries from happening.
Wear Protective Gear
Although wearing a helmet seems like a no brainer, many still get on their mountain bikes without one. If you are climbing or riding singletrack a regular helmet will suffice. If you are riding more intense trails or jump lines, I would highly recommend wearing a full face helmet. Riders often take harder hits on these types of trails. A full face helmet generally has more padding than a regular helmet which will provides more protection against concussions. The chin strap also provides protection to your face and mouth, saving your a trip to the dentist and an expensive bill to follow.
It is also very important to consider knee and elbow pads, chest and back protection, and even a neck brace. You might be surprised at how little these items interfere with riding comfort. Manufacturers have nearly perfected the art of creating comfortable, but very useful, protective gear.
There is a reason why the guys riding Rampage are wearing full face helmets, neck braces, knee pads, elbow pads, and chest and back protection. It protects them from getting seriously injured while riding! Although it won’t prevent all injuries, it can significantly reduce the severity.
Ride Within your Comfort Level
The more mountain bike videos I watch on YouTube the more I want to head to the Utah desert and huck the biggest cliffs I can find. If you want to prevent mountain bike injuries, you must learn to tame the inner beast inside that wants to go full send all the time. Every time I have attempted a feature that is out of my comfort zone, the results are disastrous. Just because you don’t hit a feature doesn’t make you less of a mountain biker. It is ok to walk down or ride around the feature.
Believe it or not there are safe ways to advance your riding. If you are learning how to jump, many bike parks have a set of progression jumps. You can start small and slowly work your way up to the bigger jumps when you feel comfortable. Many bike parks also have a skills area. These areas have various log features that can help with balance and bike control. You can also work on flips and bigger tricks if you are lucky enough to have access to a foam pit or airbag. If you do not, building a mulch jump will certainly help absorb any necessary impacts and prevent mountain bike injuries.
Not only do these places allow you to practice new tricks, they can also be a great place to learn how to fall. This is an extremely important skill when tricks go wrong. Practicing on a mulch jump or into a foam pit is the perfect place to learn how to skillfully bail from your bike and transition into the tuck and roll position. This not only protects you from broken bones, it also dissipates the force of impact when you hit the ground.This is an extremely important skill to learn while mountain biking and might make the difference in whether you get injured or not. These are just a few ways to progress and prevent mountain bike injuries.
Do Strength Training on a Regular Basis
As active outdoor people, many of us don’t like to spend our time locked up in a gym. We would rather be blasting through the woods on our mountain bikes. However, all mountain bikers should do strength training on a regular basis. You don’t need to bulk up like a bodybuilder, but building muscle mass is very important. Building muscle mass will help reduce the likelihood of a fractured or broken bone during a crash. It is also very important to develop strong core muscles. Your core muscles are extremely important. They provide us with greater balance and control while on the bike. Check out this six week mountain bike training plan from Men's Journal here!
The Reward is Greater than the Risk
Our goal as riders is to have as much fun as possible and stay safe. Even if you follow all three of these tips and tricks, the risk of injury will always be present. Injury cannot be avoided. If you have yet to experience an injury while mountain biking, prepare yourself. It is only a matter of time. Many times the reward we receive as mountain bikers often outweighs this risk. I hope these tips help you advance your riding skills and help prevent mountain bike injuries.