Mountain biking is a thrilling sport that requires a high level of skill and vigilance. Fortunately, several injury prevention strategies can help reduce the risk of injuries during and after intense MTB training.
Check Your Equipment Before the Ride
There’s no substitute for a quick pre-ride check of all your equipment. It’s often small mechanical problems that go unnoticed or unresolved that can wreak havoc during your ride, and it’s always best to prevent them rather than fix them during the ride!
Ensure your helmet fits properly, is in good condition, and has all the necessary straps. You should also carry first aid and a tool kit in case of an accident.
MTB racing is becoming more technical each year, and many injuries that affect student-athletes are related to jumping and negotiating these features. MTB training and practice can help develop the skills to negotiate these features safely. In addition, ensuring that the bike fits your body correctly and that you have proper cleat positioning can reduce injury risk. A new study found that student-athlete injuries are significantly reduced when properly fitted and trained.
Don’t Overdo It
It is easy for riders to push too hard during intense interval training workouts. This can lead to overtraining and increased risk of injury.
To avoid this, riders should start their workouts a bit easier than they normally would, gradually increasing intensity over the week. In addition, they should include a mix of recovery rides that are longer in duration than the workouts.
Lastly, it is important to have proper equipment that can be adjusted as necessary to accommodate changing body dimensions. This includes a properly fitting bike. It is also important to wear proper clothing, particularly shoes, to prevent injuries such as blisters.
A proper diet and adequate hydration are essential to maintaining optimal performance. Fueling the body with a diet high in carbohydrates and protein promotes muscle development and recovery. Staying hydrated helps to prevent dehydration-related issues like cramps. Proper hydration can be achieved by consuming water or sports drinks on every ride.
The most important preventative measure you can take is cross-training. This is done by regularly switching up your exercise routines to target different muscles from various angles. This helps to avoid over-training or accumulating excessive levels of orthopedic stress on the body’s most heavily used muscles and joints.
Mountain biking requires explosive power primarily generated through the hips and legs. Try incorporating short, maximal sprints into your road and bike training program to improve your ability to generate these high torque levels. This will improve your MTB racing performance and give your legs a break from the repetitive, high-intensity cycling movement that is common in MTB race events.
World-class athletes across endurance sports periodize their activities throughout the year, dedicating more time to specific, sport-specific activities as the competition period approaches. MTB riders can take a cue from this practice by incorporating non-specific cycling and off-road training rides on various surfaces, gradients, and technical features into their training schedule as the competition season approaches.
Keep It Simple
Mountain biking is an adrenaline-fueled sport that poses a high risk of injury. Fortunately, the right approach to training can greatly decrease the chances of getting hurt.
Start with a thorough warm-up routine to increase blood flow and prepare the muscles for more intense work. Also, stretch after a ride to prevent stiffness and delayed muscle soreness.
Sticking with a progressive training plan that gradually increases mileage, intensity, and duration can reduce overuse injuries in muscles, tendons, and joints. Cross-training with activities like yoga, swimming, or weight lifting can also engage different muscle groups and build endurance.
Lastly, focus on riding the trail and having fun rather than worrying about falling off the bike and making it worse. It’s bound to happen eventually, so don’t let it ruin your day! Suppose you can’t avoid falling off your bike. In that case, a few simple tricks can minimize the impact, like lowering your center of gravity, wearing a helmet, and following a proper dismounting technique.