Friendly bicycle safety tips from America’s bike-friendly city

by Hennepin Healthcare

Minnesota is known for its challenging weather – and the hardy folks who challenge it! Recently Minneapolis was reported to be the only US city on the worldwide bike-friendly list. This news may have come as a surprise for the rest of the country, but not to local bike enthusiasts.

Bicycling is great exercise, but an injury can ruin a great ride even in America’s bike-friendly city. And according to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), bicycle-related injuries continue to rise with more people enjoying the sport.

Schmidt Andrew

Dr. Andrew Schmidt

“Injuries to the shoulder and wrist are probably the most common bicycle crash-related injuries,” explains Dr. Andrew Schmidt, Chief of Orthopedics at Hennepin Healthcare.  “These include clavicle fractures, shoulder separations and fractured wrists, too.”

In automobile-bicycle crashes, the impact can cause severe or life-threatening injuries to the pelvis, spine and lower extremities. Bike helmets should always be worn to avoid brain injury.

Overuse injuries don’t involve a crash or fall, but can be extremely painful. Carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back and neck pain, pain in and around the knee area, tendonitis and toe injuries are commonly seen with bicycle fans.

“Proper bike fitting, stretching and appropriate training methods can help prevent these types of overuse injuries,” said Dr. Schmidt.

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Minnesotans enjoy bicycling every month of the year, even when it’s icy. But according to Dr. Schmidt, one of the most dangerous times of the year to ride may be in the spring, when everyone is especially anxious to get outside, but the roads are still full of debris, including sand and gravel as well as unrepaired potholes.

“The causes of bike injuries will vary somewhat with the season, which influences the safety and condition of the surface the cyclist rides on, their visibility, and other factors that affect the risk of falls or collisions,” he said.

In addition to road construction detours and debris during the summer months, heat exhaustion can also be a problem. Symptoms of hyperthermia include disorientation, which can put cyclists at risk for injuries from falls and crashes. Good hydration and common sense are critical at all times – but especially during extremely hot and humid weather.

A bicycle injury may be a minor setback, but in time most can get back to enjoying this activity.

“In general, a reasonable period of healing and off-bike rehabilitation would be needed before riding again after suffering a fracture, but it depends on what type of fracture occurred and how it was treated,” explains Dr. Schmidt.

So get out there and safely enjoy the great trails and amenities available for cyclists in our nationally recognized city! If you do experience an injury, Hennepin Healthcare has nationally recognized orthopedic specialists who can help you get back on track as soon as possible.