How to Help Combat the Most Common Mountain Bike Injuries

How to Help Combat the Most Common Mountain Bike Injuries

“During the past three years, researchers from Napier University have been conducting a massive research project with Enduro World Series participants collecting information about mountain bike injuries, and more importantly how to prevent them. “The survey was carried out by Sports Scientist Dr Debbie Palmer of Edinburgh Napier University and covers the full breadth of participation, from our recreational rider base right through to the upper echelons of elite athletes.”

The report comprises of two separate pieces of research. The first questioned 2,000 EWS-racing athletes, from 46 countries, across 10 EWS races, recording how, when, and where they were injured. Highlights include the most frequently occurring injuries and those injuries that resulted in the most days spent off the bike recovering.

The findings are rather fascinating which low concussion rates and more injuries during the 2016 XC mountain bike race in RIO in 2016 than in the Enduro World Series events!

enduro world series report findingsRead the full report here.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that shoulder and clavicular injuries are the most common. These injuries typically involve a long recovery – 25 days on average.

So, how can enduro rider’s improve their strength around their shoulders to decrease this injury risk.

 

(Picture thanks to EWS report)

What makes up your shoulder?

The shoulder is an extremely complex joint made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm) as well as the associated muscles, ligaments and tendons.

The humerus loosely attaches to the scapula in a ball and socket joint that allows the arm to rotate in a circular manner or to hinge up and away from the body. The joint must be mobile enough to do a wide range of dynamic movements (like throwing), but also stable enough to lift heavy objects and push and pull. This compromise between mobility and stability means the muscles need to be strong and stable to protect this joint.

The major muscles involved with movement of the shoulder are the four rotator cuff muscles and the deltoid. These muscles allow the upper arm to rotate in and out, move forward, out to the side, and behind the back.  Tendons are the bands of fibrous connective tissue that attach these muscles to the humerus.

Here are our top 5 shoulder stability exercises to help you combat those injuries.

  1. Rotator Cuff External Rotation with Band
    1. Palms facing up hold the band out in front of you
    2. Keep your elbows tucked in
    3. Forearms parallel to the ground
    4. Breath in, on the exhale open the band to the side
    5. Hold for the inhale
    6. Exhale bring arms back to the centre
    7. Repeat 5 times
      1. To increase strength add in pulses once the band is opened to the side

rotator cuff exercise

  1. High to Low Row
    1. Attach a resistance band to something sturdy at or above shoulder height. Be sure it is secure so it doesn’t come lose when you pull on it
    2. Get down on one knee so the knee opposite the outstretched arm is raised. Your body and lowered knee should be aligned. Rest your other hand on your raised knee
    3. Holding the band securely with your arm outstretched, pull your elbow toward your body. Keep your back straight and squeeze your shoulder blades together and down as you pull. Your body should not move or twist with your arm, engage your core muscles to stop this from happening
    4. Return to start and repeat 3 sets of 10
  1. Reverse Fly
    1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your back straight and bend forward slightly at the waist
    2. With a light weight (bean cans of full water bottles will do) in each hand, extend your arms and raise them away from your body.
    3. Do not lock your elbow. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you do so.
    4. Do not raise your arms above shoulder height
    5. Return to start and repeat 3 sets of 10

 

4. Press Up (Bi-cep)

    1. Start standing, bend your knees and put your hands on the floor so they are under your shoulders
    2. Lift your knees off the floor so you are in a sloping position, don’t stick your bum in the air or let your hips drop (keep your knees on the floor for a modified box press up)
    3. Hands facing forward slowly lower your nose towards the floor, elbows moving outwards
    4. Engage your core, (pull your belly button towards your spine) to help protect your lower back
    5. Inhale at the bottom, exhale and push yourself back up into the sloping position

5. Press Up (tri-cep)

    1. Start standing, bend your knees and put your hands on the floor so they are under your shoulders
    2. Lift your knees off the floor so you are in a sloping position, don’t stick your bum in the air or let your hips drop (keep your knees on the floor for a modified box press up)
    3. Hands facing forward slowly lower your nose towards the floor, elbows moving towards your hips, arms grazing the side of your body
    4. Engage your core, (pull your belly button towards your spine) to help protect your lower back
    5. Inhale at the bottom, exhale and push yourself back up into the sloping position

press up

 

 

How to ride drop offs

How to ride drop offs

Drop offs come in all shapes and sizes, from rock steps, tree stumps/roots or purpose-built obstacles. Learning to negotiate these by jumping will help your trail flow and improve your riding.

At some point on red graded trails you will come across a drop off. In some cases these can be rolled, but sometimes and to add some fun they will need to be jumped. Rolling will only work with smaller drops. The bigger the drop the bigger the risk of catching your chainring and going for flying lessons, something we all try to avoid!!

Start with learning how to manual on a flat field (video on its way) then progress to little curb sized drop offs where if you get it wrong it won’t matter too much.

Tips:

  1. Enter at jogging pace
  2. Spot your exit point
  3. Pump down and back as you manual off the lip of the drop off, pushing the bike forwards
  4. Try and land two wheels at the same time, if you are landing onto a downward slope your front wheel may get there first
  5. Remember to keep your weight down and back, heels down

Once you have got your manual technique sorted on smaller drop offs it’s time to look at bigger drops. With more speed you can just slide your weight back and need less pump to get you over the drop. These will usually require a bit more speed and the entry and exit lines become very important. As you enter the drop off you need to commit, come off the brakes and spot your landing. On exiting let the bike land before cornering or braking, in an ideal world, look where you want to go!

Try walking a new line before riding it so you can spot the best line through the feature.

Thank you for reading, check back for more posts on mountain biking and Pilates soon!

 

Beginners Mountain Biking Tips

Beginners Mountain Biking Tips

Learning to ride a mountain bike is easy. Learning to ride a mountain bike really well is harder and takes practise and patients. However, get the basics right at the start and you’ll enjoy every minute you ever spend on your mountain bike.

Once you have the basic principles of riding a bike like, how to brake and use the gears. There is a whole world of new skills to learn that you can develop to take your riding further and faster.

There are two key elements to mountain biking, physical effort and mental awareness. It’s only when you combine them together that you can effectively start pushing your riding boundaries to new heights.

Physical

Mountain biking involves your entire body. Your core muscles, back, shoulders and arms all play a role alongside your legs and lungs. Mountain biking is a great cardio workout and to a certain extent is non load bearing on your joints which is great! This changes when you start jumping of course!

Mental

This is possibly the harder part. Mountain biking can be as much a mental game as a physical one. The belief in your own skill and ability holds a lot of riders back and it’s worth working on your mental ability to flow through a trail as much as the physical.

This is true for a lot of ‘extreme’ sports knowing what you are capable of and how far you can push your own limits is what keeps us safe and that mental ability to read a situation and keep moving forward and commit is key to riding a mountain bike smoothly.

Top tips for starting out mountain biking.

Relax, breathe and smile!

This is really important, to enable you to flow through the trail. Stiffen up and grip hard on those bars and you make your life a lot harder. Try to breathe consistent steady breaths from your rib cage. Visualise what it will feel like to nail the section of trail in front of you.

Look where you want to go…

You don’t find a lot of straight, smooth trails when mountain biking. Every trail evolves and you need to ‘read’ the sections as they approach. To do this you need your eyes up looking where you want to go. Pick the smoothest line of travel where possible to allow the bike to flow and maintain traction and speed.

Pedalling

Effective pedalling comes from being able to pedal in circles think about scraping your foot backwards, like your wiping something off your shoe, at the bottom of the pedal stroke and flicking your ankle as you return to the top of the revolution.

Cadence is also important don’t plummet to your lowest gear at the sign of an incline instead try and keep your feet moving at the same pace and when you cannot maintain your rpm (revolutions per minute) change gear.

Body position

The front and rear wheels both deliver traction, this keeps you gripping the floor and driving the bike forwards. On flat ground you’ll be sat on the saddle or up in the neutral or ‘ready position’ this is where you pedals are level (unless you are pedalling of course) your knees and elbows are bent and fingers are covering the brakes. In this position you are ‘ready’ for trail features with your feet well away from tree stumps etc… Both wheels are weighted due to your position over the centre of the bike. As the terrain changes from flat to up or downhill, you’ll need to adapt the position to slightly further back. For climbing this works in the opposite direction often you have to push more weight through your arms to maintain traction on the front wheel, remember not to unweight the back wheel or you will slip out.

You’ll need to constantly adapt the position as you feel the grip or lack of it from each tyre and make the necessary body adjustments to suit. Relaxing and looking where you are going help to make this achievable.

Tyre pressures 

Lower pressures will provide more grip and when you are leaning your bike into a corner or tackling rooty trails, grip is king. Running too little pressure will expose your rims to possible damage and snake bite punctures. It can also cause tyre sidewalls to fold and deflect. More air pressure makes the tyres feel like they run faster, it will be easier to climb but you will lose a little grip.

Brakes – you have two, use them both!

As a child you probably learnt to only use your back brake, maybe you used your front once and ended up in a heap. Although your back break is needed to control your speed your control comes from the front brake on a mountain bike. This becomes especially important on steep terrain when too much back brake allows the bike to skip sideways you need to be using that front brake for traction and control.

I hope you have found these tips helpful if you are looking at progressing your mountain bike skills and technique working with a coach can improve your riding faster and further than alone.

 

 

Pilates Workout – Donkey Kicks with ball

Pilates Workout – Donkey Kicks with ball

Here is my latest video on how to do Donkey Kicks with the fitball. These are a great glute workout, remember to keep an eye on your alignment and form to get the most out of your workout.


1. Start on your hands and knees with your knees under hips in a box position.
Place the ball in the back of your knee.

2. With your spine in neutral, pull your belly button tight towards your spine. Imagine you have a tray of drinks on your back, keep it steady. Eye line down and keep a long neck.

3. Slowly press your thigh back, working leg is bent parallel into a donkey kick. Drive heel up towards the ceiling, hold for two seconds then lower the knee.
Perform 8-10 Reps.

4. This time take the leg out to the side raising it only as high as to maintain level hips. Perform 8-10 Reps.

5. Next take the leg across behind the supporting leg, try to maintain a steady back drawing your belly button to spine and even weight in both hands.
Perform 8-10 Reps.

6. Release and stretch into a child’s pose and reset for the second side.

Thanks for watching.

Winter Fartleck Training

Winter Fartleck Training

Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play,” and that is what this training session is all about! Fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts over a period of time.

During the winter months it’s good to mix up your training on the bike to keep you energised and excited about layering up and pedalling on.

I hope you enjoy my video!