Posted on Sep 08, 2023, 3 p.m.
Recent research into injuries that are sustained by trail users and mountain biking indicates that it is not dangerous and that the health benefits outweigh the risks, despite misconceptions depicting the sport as being injury-plagued and reserved for thrill seekers. Researchers from Curtin University encourage those who are hesitant to give mountain biking or hiking a try, and they have published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.
This study analyzed data from dozens of studies across the world, encompassing 220,935 injured mountain bikers and 17,757 injured hikers, aimed to pinpoint the types of injuries and affected parts of the body in order to provide insights into the common injuries and medical treatment of the cases.
According to lead author and Ph.D. candidate Paul Braybrook, from Curtin’s School of Nursing, the mountain bikers were primarily injured on their upper limbs which largely resulted in scratches, mild cuts, and bruises; and hikers were more prone to ankle and leg injuries such as blisters and ankle sprains.
“Mountain biking and hiking are some of the fastest growing recreation activities in the world, so understanding the spectrum of injuries becomes paramount for effective medical care,” Mr Braybrook said. “Despite a common perception of mountain biking as an ‘extreme’ sport, we found most reported injuries were of low severity. Although there were high proportions of ankle sprains in hikers and arm fractures in mountain bikers, with one study of the latter reporting more than half suffered head injuries, highlighting the importance of a good quality helmet.”
“As the popularity of both pursuits has increased, so too has the standard of trails, bikes, footwear, and protective gear, reducing the risk of serious injury,” says Braybrook. “In the case of mountain biking, there has also been a cultural shift from the more extreme or ‘radical’ style of riding synonymous with the sport when it first evolved decades ago in places like Colorado and California.”
“Mountain biking and hiking bring economic gains through tourism and the obvious health benefits of physical activity including improvements in cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes,” Mr Braybrook said.
Hiking and mountain biking can be extreme, but that is not always the case, the person decides how extreme they want the activity to be. Braybrook says that based on their findings, the risk of injury from hiking or mountain biking was outweighed by the considerable health benefits that these outdoor physical activities can provide.
“With Spring weather upon us, people should take the opportunity to regularly head out to their nearest trail for a ride or hike – these are fun activities, great for fitness, and with only the occasional scratch or bruise likely to result.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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