Mountain Biking and Physiotherapy

Author: pivotalphysio

The Pivotal Physiotherapy team had a blast at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline event in Canmore this past weekend. Last year was the team’s first time and after having an awesome experience, they returned back for more.



Mountain biking may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has been gaining popularity. For example, The Dirt Girls Mountain Biking Club in Edmonton has over 100 members since it’s start in 2000. And on top of that, most of the cycling trails are located in the midst of our beautiful river valley, so what better way to explore and take in the views than on the back of a bike!

Many physiotherapists on the Pivotal team enjoy mountain biking in their spare time and they sometimes even trail blaze their way to work from all ends of the city. Consequently, personal experience heightens their awareness of mountain biking conditions and injuries.

In this next section, Craig discusses a few common mountain biking injuries.

Common mountain biking injuries

1. Wrists and Hands:

You’re connected to your bike in three different places: your feet, your bum and your hands. Of the three, the hands and are the smallest and most delicate. The vibration and impact from the trial moves its way through the bike to your hands and can cause pain and discomfort. In particular, nerve compression and muscle fatigue are common and wearing gloves, lessening grip tension and changing your hand positions often can help both conditions.

2. Knees:

Knee pain during and after riding is common. I highly recommend having a professionally trained specialist in bike fitting adjust your riding position to prevent many of the problems before they begin. Pain around the kneecap and lateral knee predominate, but proper stretching after riding and using a sensible pre-season conditioning program reduces the likelihood injury.

3. Shoulders and neck:

Riding a mountain bike requires that you use your shoulders and upper body to make power and to position the bike where you need it. Many riders will experience neck, upper back and shoulder pain following long or more spirited rides. Try to make a conscious effort to relax your shoulders and draw your shoulder blades back and down. This will help reduce the muscle tightness and burning that can develop from the overuse of your upper back muscles.

Now Lindsay jumps in this section and provides a couple of overall treatment and prevention strategies.

 Self-treatment: When you experience a trauma such as falling off your bike and sustain sprains, strains and bruises. Always keep in mind, to RICE.

R- Rest

I- Ice

C- Compression

E- Elevation

Do I need to go to the doctor? You should see a doctor if:

  • You hit your head and experienced LOC, blurred vision, extreme dizziness, forgetfulness, etc
  • You are unable to weight bear on affected limb
  • You have significant bleeding

Do I need Physiotherapy?

  • You  should see a physiotherapist if you injured yourself but are not experiencing the signs/symptoms outlined above

How can a physiotherapist help you?

  • Physiotherapy involves an active rehabilitation treatment plan augmented with a home exercise program, education, modalities, hands-on therapy, needling, and corrective taping.
  • A physiotherapist can help you regain strength and mobility. Most importantly, they can provide proper education about your body and injury. And, depending on your physiotherapist, they can relate to your situation and connect with you on that level.



Warm up properly

  • 10-15 min of mild intensity activity before you drop into Root Canal

Stretch and strengthen your muscles

  • Our muscles work in unison with each other, so balance is key

Know your body

  • Everyone has muscles they know that are tight, so focus on those specific muscles.
  • Common problem areas include the hip, knee, neck and upper back

Use your head

  • Wear proper equipment
  • Know your limits


Mountain biking is a thrilling activity. Although, with thrill comes risk. Have fun while riding, but be conscious and careful of your body. If by bad luck you happen to sustain an injury while mountain biking, consult a physiotherapist if appropriate and confidently work your way back onto the trails!


Craig Wilson, BScPT Owner, Physiotherapist
Lindsay Thompson, MScPT Physiotherapist
Cathy Ocol, VP Public Relations, PTA Diploma

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