Are You An Avid Cyclist?
Cycling is a good form of exercise, so it's no wonder that more than 80 million bicycle riders in the United States have taken up bicycling for fun, and as a mode of transportation.
However, with more than 1.4 million injuries reported in 2012, according to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), riders need to be 100 percent prepared and cautious before hitting the pavement.
In 2010, bruises and minor cuts were the leading types of injuries involving bicycles, followed by fractures, then lacerations and strains and sprains. However, serious injuries, including death, can occur.
"In my specialty, I see many cycling injuries that are caused by traumatic accidents," said Eric Chehab, MD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and specialist in sports medicine. "Similar to driving a car, there are rules of the road with cycling and it's imperative that riders follow those rules to help decrease the incidence of collisions and other traumatic occurrences."
Since orthopaedic surgeons treat so many broken arms, wrist sprains, strains, and other bicycle-related injuries, the AAOS offers this list of safety tips for cyclists:
1. Adjust bicycle to fit. Make certain the bicycle is the proper size for the rider. Appropriately sized frames, handlebar and seat heights, as well as understanding gear systems, helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries and improves your control of the bike. If you ride regularly, consider a professional fit.
2. Pace yourself: Cycling can be vigorous exercise. Make sure you are fit enough to participate before you start pedaling. See your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
3. Change riding positions. Slight variations in your position can reduce stress on pressure points on your body and avoid overstressing muscles.
4. Always wear a helmet approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Make sure it fits snugly but comfortably and does not obstruct vision.
- It should have a chin strap and buckles that stay securely fastened.
- Studies have shown that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries.
5. Service your bicycle. Check your bicycle's mechanical components on a regular basis (brakes, tires, gears, etc.), just like you would for a car. If your bike is not in good condition, do not ride it.
6. Follow the rules of the road. Familiarize yourself with all of the bicycle rules of the road in your city or state. Follow traffic signs and lights. Signal your turns or your intentions so that drivers can anticipate your actions.
7. Ride defensively. Ride in the direction of traffic and be aware of all surroundings. Be careful when riding next to parked cars to avoid being hit by an opening door.
8. Avoid distracted cycling: Do not listen to music with headphones, talk on your phone, text, or do anything else that can obstruct your hearing and/or vision while riding.
9. Never underestimate road conditions. Be cautious of uneven or slippery surfaces.
10. Watch your fuel level: Be sure to carry water and food on longer rides. Drink a full water bottle each hour on the bike.
11. Use proper gear. Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Never wear flip flops. Wear padded gloves. Use appropriately padded cycling shorts for longer rides. If you commute on your bike, carry your belongings in a proper bag with close fitting straps. Wear sunscreen, when appropriate.
12. Take extra precautions while bicycling at night. Wear bright fluorescent colors; make sure to have rear reflectors. Both a working taillight and headlight should be visible from 500 feet away.
13. Supervise younger riders at all times. It is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.
14. Never ride a bicycle while under the influence.
A Nation in Motion
More than one in four Americans have bone or joint health problems, making them the greatest cause of lost work days in the US. When orthopaedic surgeons restore mobility and reduce pain, they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Orthopaedic surgeons provide a great value, in both human and economic terms; and access to high-quality orthopaedic care keeps this "Nation in Motion." To learn more, to read hundreds of patient stories or to submit your own story, visit ANationinMotion.org.