Bouncing back from a bike crash

Even with the best biking education and years of experience, many triathletes and cyclists will experience a crash. Here are some of our key recommendations that can help you prevent—or bounce back from—a crash.

Avoid a crash

Expert tips for stacking the odds in your favour: 

- When on training group rides, be hyper-aware of everyone around you and am always look for an escape route if someone goes down.

- Check that your tyres are not overly worn, your wheels are true and that braking and shifting are in good working condition. Many times these issues can cause a crash or make avoiding one that much more difficult.

- A great strength-training programme can establish good joint stability and optimal range of motion and may help you to avoid some crashes or bounce back more quickly following one

Recover fast

If you do crash, proper long- term recovery should begin right away.

- Ask your A&E for specific wound care supplies like saline, tegaderm, silver sulfa and sponges rather than gauze pads to aid healing of road rash. The A&E is primarily focused on evaluating for head and spinal cord and internal organ injury. Once these injuries have been excluded, make an appointment with a sports medicine therapist to help diagnose and treat potential maladies.

- Burn centres can work wonders on third-degree/ full thickness road rash, they have a totally different regimen than the A&E and you heal a lot faster.

Bounce back with confidence

Once you’re ready, follow some of these tips to ensure a successful return:

- Have your bike inspected professionally. In addition to cosmetic issues like bar tape and pedals, you’ll want to have the bike checked for cracks especially carbon frames, bars and wheels.

- Stay as active as possible after an acute trauma. Maintaining some level of activity (even a few minutes a day) can actually aid healing.

- Being back on the bike is a bit unnerving, which in itself can cause another crash. Start out where you feel safest and don’t have too much caffeine before your ride.

- Recovery acupuncture is great for rehabilitating muscles and tendons, providing balanced energy to a potentially traumatised body.

- Start on the indoor trainer to make sure body parts work in stationary mode before heading outside.

Five keys to properly healing road rash

  1. Once it's clean and treated, leave it alone and keep it covered by Tegaderm or similar dressing. If it’s exposed or gets cold, the wound goes into shock and healing slows down.

  2. If it oozes a milky or opaque discharge, it might be infected. Dry it out and clean it again, or treat with a topical antibiotic.

  3. Don't let it get too dry, which can make healing slower and the scar worse. 

  4. The ideal healing environment is slightly moist with nice, new, pink tissue and clan, regular margins (edges).

  5. Once healed, avoid exposing the scar to excessive sunlight for at least a year. 

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