8 Mountain Bike First Aid Scenarios You Should Know About

mountain bike first aid, mountain bike injuries, mountain bike tips, cycling injuries
July 31st, 2017

Today's guest post is from Joan  at SJ Works


Mountain biking (like  any other sport) has risks, and if you're challenging yourself on the trail and  progressing your skills - you'll eventually experience  some of those risks. You'll go over the handlebars, you won't clip out in time, you'll experience some type of environmental allergen - sounds wonderful, right? This article might make you reflect on why you mountain bike at all?!  Just remember that feeling after  your own 'sacred ride', when you're smiling from ear to ear,  your adrenaline is pumping and you're having a cold brew with your closest mountain bike friends -  it makes your falls, cut, scrapes and bruises all the more worth it.  Plus, you look badass with all those scars, and they'll most certainly prompt some good conversation! 


As a mountain biker, it's important to understand how to prevent and treat common mountain bike injuries so you can be prepared on and off the trail .  


A little disclaimer: As a mountain biker, you're probably out exploring remote areas,  enjoying the solitude of solo rides and  challenging yourself at every turn in the trail.  We highly recommmend that every mountain biker  takes an introductory first aid course, so you're prepared for  injuries on the trail . Fingers crossed that you'll never have to use your first aid knowledge.  Check out St. John's Ambulance or The Red Cross for a variety of First Aid courses.  The information in this blog post is not professional advice and  we encourage you to seek out professional first aid courses. 


8 mountain bike first aid scenarios you should know about

To prepare for minor trailside  injuries, always pack a small first aid kit in your  hydration pack. Some suggested items to  put in your  first aid kit: 

- bandaids 

- tweezers

- sterile gauze 

-  Ibuprofen or Tylenol 

- zip ties  (for temporary splints)

- emergency contact info

- antibiotic cream/alcohol swabs

- Epipen (if needed)

- emergency snacks 

- whistle 

- money (for emergency transportaton, snacks etc)

- health card information 

- latex gloves

For a variety of  first aid kit options, check out SJ Works. 

1. insect bites and stings 

Summertime riding brings summertime bugs!  Most reactions to insect bites and stinge are mild, causing little more than redness , itching and minor swelling.  Here are a few tips for dealing with insect bites:

-  If you get stung,  move to a safe area to avoid more bites/stings. If needed try to remove the stinger using tweezers. 

- If biking in an area known for ticks, make sure you check yourself for ticks after every ride.  Ticks can carry Lyme disease, which is an inflammatory infection often causing headaches, fatigue, rashes and a fever.  If left untreated,  it can become quite serious. 

-  Try to use small tweezers to remove the tick , if you are uncomfortable  with this seek medical attention right away to remove  it. 

mountain bike first aid, mountain bike injuries, mountain bike tips, cycling injuries

2. cuts and scrapes 

Crashes  usually result in minor cuts  and scrapes. It's important to clean the affected area  with water or alcohol swabs  and apply a bandaid if needed.  If you  have a deep cut, you'll want to prevent mud, sand and other  natural elements from  getting in your cut! 

-  Wash your hands with your drinking water to help  avoid infection. If you have disposable gloves, put them on. 

-  Use an antiseptic towelette  to clean the area. 

- If there is a lot of blood apply gentle pressure and a bandage, elevate the wound if needed. 

- If you think stitches are required,  visit a doctor as soon as possible.  Use your own discretion if you think you can continue riding! 

 mountain bike first aid, mountain bike injuries, mountain bike tips, cycling injuries

3. Bruises and stress fractures 

A small stress fracture is a small crack in a bone or severe bruising of the bone. The weight-bearing bones of the  foot and lower leg are especially vulnerable to stress fractures because of the repetitive forces they absorb during mountain biking.  If you think you have a stress fracture... 

-  Check the environment first and make sure there are no hazards, remove yourself from the trail  so you're not in the way of other mountain bikers

-  Stabilize the injured area  and try not to move until an initial assessment is done 

- Check for swelling, redness or bruising

-  Assess the pain  by gently touching the area 

- Assess and numbness or tingling 

-  Notice any difficulty  moving body parts 

- Stop any bleeding by applying pressure 

- Continually check  circulation,  signs of poor circulation include: pale or blueish skin, numbness or tingling and loss of pulse

- Seek medical attention as soon as possible 


4. bleeding 

If you fall and experience a really bad cut that results in a lot of bleeding, you'll want to apply first aid right away.

 - Apply direct pressure on the cut or wound with a clean cloth, tissue, or piece of gauze until bleeding stops.

-  If blood soaks through the material, don’t remove it. Put more cloth or gauze on top of it and continue to apply pressure.

-  Gently clean the wound  and apply a bandage 

- Seek medical attention if you experience persistent bleeding 

- If possible, raise the wounded area above the heart to help slow the bleeding 



5. dislocations 

If you suspect a dislocation injury, it's best to leave the joint alone until you seek professional medical help.  Attempting to jam the bone back into place may result in damaged blood vessels,  muscles, ligaments and nerves.  You could take an anti-inflammatory drug like  Ibuprofen  to help reduce swelling and apply ice to the affected area.  You can try to immobilize  the area with a sling,  it's best not to move the area until  you visit a  doctor.  Apply padding around the wound, or above and below the wound. Apply a clean dressing loosely over the injured part.

6. head injuries 

Fingers crossed you never have to deal with this type of injury.  Invest in a  high-quality mountain bike helmet  suitable to the type of terrian you'll be riding.  A full-face helmet is  highly recommended for downhill  trails  and jump trails, most downhill bike parks require full face protection  to ensure your safety.  If you fall and hit your head,  stay calm and take  a few minutes to  sit at the side of trail to assess your reaction to the fall.  You may feel dizzy and will most likely be shaken up!  Inspect your helmet for  visible signs of  failure (cracks, dings,  scrapes). If you hit your head, all bike helmets should be replaced , even if there are no signs of failure, the inside of the helmet could be compromised.  If you're biking with a friend who has experienced a head injury...

- Sit them down 

- Treat any scalp wounds like a bleed, by applying direct pressure to the wound

- Check their level of responsiveness, using the AVPU scale below. Make a note of their reactions, especially any changes to their level of response, to pass on to the ambulance, in case you have to call one.

A – Alert: Are they alert? Are their eyes open and do they respond to questions?

V – Voice: Do they respond to voice? Can they answer simple questions and respond to instructions?

P – Pain: If they’re not alert or they’re not responding to your voice - do they respond to pain? Try pinching them - do they move or open their eyes?

U – Unresponsive: Do they respond to questions or a gentle shake?

8. dehydration 

Dehydration can happen to the best of us!  Ensure you  mountain bike with a hydration pack or water bottle and you're constantly staying hydrated.  Signs of dehydration include headaches,  dizziness and muscle cramps.  If left untreated dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion. 

Treating dehydration can be quite simple:

- Sit down in the shade and drink plenty of water

- Take an  oral rehydration solution to help replace salt and other minerals which you've lost – you can buy this in sachets from any pharmacy

- if you have painful cramps,  rest at the side of the trail,  stretch and massage your muscles that hurt

- if symptons persist, head back to the trailhead and visit a doctor

mountain bike first aid, mountain bike injuries, mountain bike tips, cycling injuries

Here's to the sun setting on your injury-free mountain bike adventures!