Mountain biking is one of the most popular extreme sports. Teenagers as well as adults actively participate in recreational and competitive mountain biking.
Compared to other forms of cycling, mountain biking is a high-impact sport in which the amount of stress placed on the lower body depends on the terrain, cycling speed, riding ability, and the gear used. With excessive stress, the cyclist can become increasingly vulnerable to lower body injuries.
Posture problems, repetitive foot movements, poor training, faulty bicycles and improper gear may cause or contribute to excessive stress and/or high-impact injuries.
The lower back, in particular, is subjected to a great level of stress during mountain biking. . According to a study in the Canadian Journal of Surgery, spinal injuries were more common in mountain bikers than street cyclists with 7.8% of the patients requiring surgery.
The knee plays an important role in cycling and knee problems can limit the training capacity and performance of cyclists. Poor pedalling form may increase the risk of knee injuries as it affects movement of the quad muscles.
The Irish Journal of Medical Science published a study which highlighted that cyclists with knee pain demonstrated abnormal cycling patterns. This led to compensatory movements in the lower body that affected overall use of energy and exposed the knee to overuse injuries.
Weak foot posture can add to the development of overuse injuries and chronic conditions in mountain biking. With flat feet, abnormal foot movements can cause the knee, hips, and lower back to move beyond their normal range of motion.
Flatfoot posture places more stress on the lower body, and over time, can lead to misalignment of the knee, IT band, hips and low back. Secondary conditions like plantar fasciitis may also develop as a result.
Internal as well as external factors should be considered when treating lower body injuries in mountain biking. Getting familiar with the terrain, cycling within one’s ability, using appropriate protective gear and understanding potential risks can help mountain bikers reduce injury risks.
Doctor-recommended stretching exercises should be incorporated into preventative programmes to reduce stiffness in the knees, hips and low back. These can improve flexibility and allow pain-free cycling for longer periods of time.
Foot insoles can also be beneficial in addressing faulty foot movements and injury risks associated with a weak foot posture.
MASS4D® insoles support the feet in their healthiest posture which helps improve alignment from the feet up. By promoting normal range of motion and minimising added stress on the lower body, MASS4D® helps improve form and reduce muscle fatigue.
MASS4D® orthotics are specifically produced to improve pedal stroke and limit unwanted torque in the knees, hips and low back by supporting optimum foot posture. This allows mountain bikers to spend more time on the terrain with reduced risk of injury.
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Reference: Roberts, D., J., Ouellet, J., Sutherland, F., R., Kirkpatrick, A., W., Lall, R., N., Ball, C., G. (2013) Severe Street and Mountain Bicycling Injuries in Adults: A Comparison of the Incidence, Risk Factors and Injury Patterns Over 14 Years. Canadian Journal of Surgery: Jun 2013, Vol. 56, No. 3, DOI 10.1503/cjs.027411
Reference: Kennedy, T., Rowan, F., Condon, F., Kenny, C. I., Anderson, R., Dunne, C. (2012) Anterior Knee Pain in Competitive Cyclists. Irish Journal of Medical Science: September 2012, Vol. 181, Suppl. 6, pp. S129-S189
Pilates refers to a series of exercises that target the core – the abdomen, obliques, lower back, inner and outer thigh, and so on. The movements involved in pilates also help to improve flexibility and posture while promoting core stability.