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Looking for safe exercise solutions and ways to combat cabin fever while soaking up some vitamin D during COVID-19, many area residents are taking to the great outdoors, including mountain biking and cycling. As sports medicine doctors, Dr. Eric Nelson and Dr. Jonathan Harvey of Heartland Orthopedic Specialists encourage this trend for the health of our community, and they also want to offer guidelines for cyclists of all ages to help them stay safe and avoid injury. Patients in need of specialized bone, joint and muscle care are encouraged to call (800) 762-1177 to be seen by Dr. Nelson or Dr. Harvey in Alexandria at 111 17th Ave., Suite 1010 or in Willmar at 2800 1st St. S., Suite 220. For urgent needs, same-day appointments are also available at the Alexandria office.
“Dedicated to the health and safety of our community, we’re happy to see so much outdoor activity and a boom for bike riding, from mountain biking and traditional bicycling to electric cycling,” says Dr. Nelson of Heartland Orthopedic Specialists. “This trend is fantastic for mental and physical health, especially as COVID-19 continues, and when cyclists go out and ride, we want to make sure they know about the potential for injury and take the necessary precautions.”
Bruises, scrapes and minor cuts are all common for mountain bikers and cyclists, and orthopedic specialists frequently see broken collarbones, broken wrists and other fractures as well as muscle strains and sprains. However, more serious injuries are possible, especially if a cyclist crashes or collides with another rider or a motorist. When gearing up to go for a ride, follow these safety tips from Heartland Orthopedic Specialists to stay safe and avoid injury:
- Wear proper clothing and equipment. In addition to always wearing a helmet, do not wear any loose or baggy clothing that could get caught on your bike. Your helmet should be approved by the American National Standards Institute and it should fit you well — not too tight or too loose or obscuring your vision in any way. Always ensure your chinstrap is buckled and secure as well.
- Use the right bike for you and take care of it before, during and after your ride. Your bike should be the right size for you and you should use the correct type of bike for the terrain you're riding in, including thick-treaded tires on rough trails and bikes equipped with lights if riding at night. Do not ride while distracted, and ensure your children are supervised when they are biking. Keep up maintenance on all bikes.
- Ride the route or trail that's right for you. Do not ride on trails that exceed your skill level. If a trail has any drops, obstacles or sections beyond your riding abilities, walk those areas.
- Follow applicable rules and laws if riding on roads, and use extra caution. Know the rules for cyclists in your metro area and ride in the direction of traffic. Be sure to follow traffic signs and lights as you ride. Use a bike lane if there is one and signal your turns.
- Watch the weather and prepare accordingly. If you will be riding while out in the sun, be sure to wear sunscreen. To stay hydrated, you should drink a full bottle of water for each hour you’re riding. You’ll also need to pace yourself to avoid exhaustion — pushing yourself too hard is dangerous.
“To get out and stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in mountain biking and cycling is growing every day, and for those new to the hobby and cyclists increasing their mileage, there is a higher risk of injury,” says Dr. Harvey of Heartland Orthopedic Specialists. “If you think you’ve suffered a fracture, have muscular pain or experience joint instability after a fall, see an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible — if you hit your head or have bleeding that won’t stop after a few minutes, go to an emergency room or urgent care immediately.”
To learn more about orthopedic safety or to schedule a safe appointment with Dr. Nelson or Dr. Harvey, call (800) 762-1177.