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Keeping Your Spine Safe: Bicycling

By Randi Morse 

Riding a bike is a fantastic way to exercise. It can work out your cardiovascular system, your legs, your core, and even your arms. Even though the winter months are rapidly approaching, in many places you can still enjoy biking if you cover up properly. In the last few years there has been data that is pointed to about half-million bicycle accidents being serious enough to cause their riders to visit the emergency room. It's very important to make sure that you ride cautiously and correctly. Not only will it help reduce the risk of accident, it will also help to keep your spine in good shape. 

The Bike 

When you look at the price of some bicycles, it's easy to see why it would be tempting to purchase as inexpensive a bicycle as you can. While I'm sure there are some fantastic, low-cost bikes out there, the truth is that a more expensive, professional bike is likely going to have safety features and an ergonomic design that was created to help keep your spine in good shape. Some bikes have more shock absorption, some have less, some have huge tires, others have extremely thin tires. It's important to get a bike that has the features, and tires, that are specific to your necessities. 

Wear a Helmet 

Always make sure that you wear a helmet. Cycling accidents can become extremely serious when the rider is not wearing a helmet. Not only does avoiding a helmet put your skull and brain in danger, it also puts your neck in danger. High quality bicycle helmets are designed to protect the head and the neck so you should always make sure you wear one even if you're only taking a quick trip down the street. 

Know Your Limits 

The old saying that you never forget to ride a bike once you learn how is definitely true. That doesn't mean that you are ready to race down the side of a mountain when you haven't been bicycling in 10 years. Far too often, accidents in the cycling world happened because people performed maneuvers that were far beyond their skill set. It's important to recognize what your limitations are and to stick to them, especially if you are just getting back into riding after an absence. There is no shame in taking things a little slowly even if you had some amazing skills before you stopped riding. Brushing up on your basics is not a bad idea. 

With the right bicycle, a quality helmet, and an understanding of your limitations, you can enjoy bicycling in a safe way knowing that you are protecting your spine -- and the rest of your body -- from injury. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Memphis, Tenn.

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