University Orthopaedic Surgeons' Experts Offer 5 Safe Cycling Tips

The outdoors has served as a bastion for safe exercise in the midst of COVID-19, and many local residents have found their stride with cycling and mountain biking. As bone, joint and muscle care providers, orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Brian Tonne and his physician assistant, Matthew Labelle, of University Orthopaedic Surgeons are happy to see this health trend and want to offer cycling injury prevention and safety guidance for our community. Patients in need of specialized bone, joint and muscle care are encouraged to call (865) 546-2663 to be seen by Dr. Tonne at our UT Medical Center or Sevierville locations. For urgent needs, walk into University Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Orthopaedic Urgent Care clinic.

"Committed to helping maintain our community's health and safety, we’re pleased to see this boom for bike riding, from mountain biking and Greenway trails to road cycling," says Dr. Tonne. "Bike riding is great physical health as well as mental health, especially as the pandemic continues. When cyclists go out and ride, we want to make sure they know the necessary safety precautions to take.”

To help avoid bruises, cuts and more serious injuries while cycling and mountain biking, follow these safety ground rules from University Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • Dress safely. Always wear a helmet, make sure it fits you and always buckle and secure your chinstrap. Your helmet also needs to be approved by the Consumer of Product Safety Commission. If mountain biking, wear additional safety gear, such as gloves, extra padding and mountain bike-specific shoes. For highspeed downhill mountain biking, use a downhill-specific mountain bike helmet (ASTM F1952 certified). Additionally, wear more fitted clothing and do not wear any loose clothing. 
  • Use the right bike the right way. Make sure you are using the appropriate bike for your terrain that is also the right size for you to help you have more control and avoid overuse injuries. Stay alert when riding — do not use your phone or wear headphones. Regularly check your brakes, tires and gears, and have lights on your bike if riding at night. 
  • Ride the right routes and trails. Do not ride on trails or routes that exceed your skill level. If the trail has drops, obstacles or sections outside of your riding ability, walk those areas, especially if the trail is new to you.
  • Be cautious near and on roads. Follow municipal laws and rules for cyclists, signaling your turns, obeying traffic signs and lights and using bike lanes where available. Stay alert at intersections and riding past parked cars, ride in the direction of traffic and always ride defensively.
  • Take outdoor precautions. Avoid riding in poor weather and pay attention to road and trail conditions. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen as needed. Do not push yourself too hard; exhaustion can compromise your stability and safety and lead to injuries. Change your riding position or walk your bike back to safety if you're feeling tired or start experiencing joint or muscle pain.

"While interest continues to grow for bike riding locally, cyclists putting in more miles than usual as well as those newer to the pastime have a higher risk of injury," says Mr. Labelle. "If you fall and injure yourself or experience persistent joint or muscular pain after a ride, you should see an orthopaedic provider promptly — if you hit your head or have bleeding that doesn't cease after a few minutes, immediately have someone take you to an emergency room or urgent care."

To learn more about orthopaedic safety or to schedule a safe appointment with Dr. Tonne or Matthew Labelle, P.A.-C., call (865) 546-2663.