The intersection of three different conditions has led to an apparently endless stream of injuries.
- At the time I wrote this post, I am 50 years old.
- I started trials biking (at 47).
- Prior to starting to learn trials biking, I hadn’t exercised regularly in probably a decade. And I still don’t exercise much, other than trials biking.
Ever since I fell in love with biking 3 years ago, I have suffered injury after injury. I’m not talking about getting minor cuts, scrapes and bruises (although there are plenty of those), requiring stitches, or breaking bones – the stuff you might expect with trials biking. No, I’m primarily referring to stupid, nagging, annoying injuries that are largely due to my age and lack of exercise.
I kicked off the injuries by jamming the big toe on my right foot and aggravating a bunion. Next, I hurt my shoulder, probably from going over the bars several times doing endos. Those eventually healed after a few weeks. I think there might have been some others in there as well. But last summer is when the persistent and recurring injuries started. Somehow I did something to aggravate my arm, probably around July 2019 – the result is tendinitis in my right arm. I also began to suffer from an impinged sciatic nerve and a string of recurring lower back injuries.
I had physical therapy for my arm (tendinitis) and back for about 4-5 months. Everything seemed to be better in my arm by March 2020. I even bought a new trials bike in January, which I rode a few times in the driveway and parking lots, taking it real easy. But after a couple rides in the woods, my arm is now in pain again, almost constantly. It hurts to lift anything – even just a cup of coffee (though ironically, it does not hurt while riding – only after). It feels like the past several months of physical therapy, stretches, and staying off my bike were completely wasted. This is so incredibly frustrating!
My sciatic nerve issue seems to have been resolved and my lower back has been pretty good for the past 1-2 months. I spend 20-30 minutes every morning before work doing stretches and pushups – I started that routine while undergoing physical therapy. While this seems to have “fixed” my back, I still need to be careful – when it goes out, it’s usually for something dumb and comes without warning.
Recently I added another nagging injury. This time I wrenched the big toe on my left foot, irritating that bunion. Before that could heal, I jammed it again, even harder than the first time. The re-injury also seems to have pulled some tendons or something in the bottom of my foot. While the worst pain subsided after a couple days, my toe joint is still sore weeks later and is aggravated by walking. Additionally, now I get random cramps in the bottom of my foot, usually right after I stand up. This is not extremely painful (it does hurt), but it’s quite annoying.
Why am I blathering on about my injuries? Whining, hoping for sympathy? Nope. Is it frustrating? You bet it is. Does it hurt? Sure. But none of that is really the point. Look at the 3 conditions I cited at the beginning of this post as contributing to my injuries. Don’t do what I did. Start exercising when you’re young, and keep exercising. Stay active. Find something physical that you love to do, and do it regularly. If you decide to start something later in life that can be rough on your body, ease into it. Get yourself into shape, work on building muscle, and do stretches. Don’t go from zero to full throttle at 50. Obviously I can’t guarantee you won’t still get injured, but if I could go back and do it again, this is the way I’d do it.
There is another point to make as well. You might ask, “if you keep getting injured, why do you keep doing it?” Why? Because in trials biking I have discovered something I absolutely love to do. When I’m not riding my bike, I’m often thinking about riding. When I am riding, I don’t want to stop, even if I’ve ridden to the brink of exhaustion. Trials riding is one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done. I enjoy it too much to give it up, despite the injuries and ongoing pain. So for now at least, I will continue to ride and hopefully still see ongoing skill progression. And maybe I can figure out how to “fix” the chronic issues like the tendinities in my arm.