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Thursday, 14 June 2012


by Ben Hallam

Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to avoid it, crashing is part of cycling and it will happen to you at one point or another. Anyone that saw Cav hit the deck in stage 3 of the Giro ( surely wouldn’t have believed that he would be able to even start the next stage, let alone win stage 5 and complete the tour.

I had some decent crashes during my career. After crashing, I would normally run through a body "reboot” checklist before jumping back up and onto the bike. The list went:

1) Head
2) Bones and Joints
3) Muscles
4) Skin


Identifying if you or your riding partner has sustained a concussion is very important as server cases can cause swelling of the brain or burst capillaries, both of which can be fatal in the worst case. It is caused by impact or sudden deceleration of the head. According to the
3rd International Conferenceon concussion in sport (2008), the signs and symptoms of a concussion are:

(a) Somatic (e.g. headache), Cognitive (e.g. feeling like in a fog) and/or Emotional symptoms
(b) Physical signs (e.g. loss of consciousness, amnesia)
(c) Behavioural changes (e.g. irritability)
(d) Cognitive impairment (e.g. slowed reaction times)
(e) Sleep disturbance (e.g. drowsiness).

Always check the helmet for damage but remember that lack of impact does not mean that the rider isn’t concussed. Ask the rider questions like “what is the date?” “how many miles have we done?” “do have any changes in vision, smell, taste or sensation?” and check their balance with a simple single leg balance test, first with eyes open and then with them closed. If they have had a head impact, lost consciousness or you suspect that they may be concussed; they should not continue the ride and be checked up by a doctor.

Bones and Joints:

Damage to bone or joint ligaments will cause pain and swelling. If ridingcauses increased pain, stop and find another way to get home as aggravating the injury will increase your recovery time. Once home, your short term priority is to controlthe swelling and ice is your new best friend. Ice it will an ice pack or pack of peas for 15 minutes, three times a day.If you suspect a broken bone (abnormal shape or painful to touch), go to A&E immediately.Put as little body weight on the joint but keep moving within a pain free range. If swelling is excessive or continues for more than a day; see a physical therapist.


Muscle strains and tears are caused by the muscle being stretched or damaged. These range from mild strains (sore but no swelling), severe strain/tear (pain and swelling) to complete tear (minimal pain, muscle deformity and loss of function). With a mild strain, try not to load the muscle while it’s recovering (small gears and less riding). Severe strains will need complete rest until the swelling stops (as above ice is you best friend) but keep it moving through a pain free range. See a physical therapist ASAP to fast track your recovery. A complete tear however needs to be surgically repaired as soon as possible so head straight to A&E.


Road rash or gravel rash is the most common result of a crash. It’s normally just skin deep but if there are lacerations that are deeper, you’ll need to go to hospital to get them seen to. The biggest danger with all this open flesh is infection. It is very important to get it cleaned with antiseptic as soon as possible making sure all the bits of grit are out. Then, if it’s small enough, cover the wounds with a wet-heal plaster. Wet-heal plasters are just amazing, they create a perfect healing environment and often leave less scaring. Road rash was one of the main reasons that I shaved my legs as the hair would get stuck in the wounds, increase the likelihood of infection and be very uncomfortable.

If in doubt, get any injuries checked out at a hospital or by a physical therapist. Bespoke Performance Lab has a team of Physiotherapists ( and Sports Rehabilitators ( will be able to asses and treat your injuries . 

1 comment:

Joint Pain said...

That is painful. Hope everything are fine right now.