How You Can Avoid Biking Injuries

Dr. Gregory Nicholson, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush shoulder surgeon, treats many patients that have sustained bike injuries. He talks with FOX 32 Chicago host Sylvia Perez about how cyclists can prevent these injuries.

As biking becomes more popular, bike injuries are becoming more common. Researchers found that there were 288,501 cases of non-fatal bike accident injuries in the United States in 2013, up from 177,275 in 1997.  Chicago actually has more bicycle commuters per capita than New York or Los Angeles.

Bicycle injuries are on the rise in Illinois and the majority of them occur on the roads.  With the staggering rise of bike injuries being reported, it is important to follow basic safety tips and prevention techniques to stay safe and reduce injury while cycling.

How to Do the Shortest Workout Possible

Martin Gibala Credit McMaster University

Super-short workouts are a favorite topic in this column. I have written about seven-minute, six-minute, four-minute, and even one-minute workouts. They are appealing because they require so little time, but they also demand straining effort.

Martin Gibala is the scientist we most have to thank for the popularity of very brief, very hard exercise. All of these workouts are built around the concept of high-intensity interval training, in which you push yourself almost to exhaustion for a brief spurt of minutes or seconds, and then rest and recover for a few minutes before repeating the intense interval.

Athletes have long used interval sessions as part of a varied weekly training program to improve their competitiveness. But Dr. Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, has helped to popularize the idea that we can rely on high-intensity intervals as our only exercise, and do very, very few of them while still improving our health and fitness.

Since 2004, he has published multiple studies about the potent effects of intervals. Perhaps the most important and illustrative was a 2014 experiment that I wrote about at the time. For it, he and his colleagues asked sedentary men and women to complete three 20-second intervals on a stationary bicycle, pedaling as hard as they could manage, with two minutes of gentle, slow pedaling between each interval. This was the one-minute workout.

After six weeks of performing three of these sessions per week, for a total of 18 minutes of intense exercise tucked in to slightly longer periods of less intense exercise, the volunteers were significantly more aerobically fit and healthier, with improved blood pressure numbers and markers of muscular health.

Because of Dr. Gibala’s studies, I do some type of interval training most weeks now. I no longer have the excuse of skipping workouts because I’m too busy. Now Dr. Gibala has written a new book, “The One-Minute Workout” (co-authored with Christopher Shulgan), which will be published on Tuesday. It details his research and provides a number of different, high-intensity interval training workouts, in addition to the one-minute version.

After reading the book (for which I provided an early reader’s review but had no other involvement), I spoke with Dr. Gibala by phone from his office at McMaster University about what science does and does not yet understand about this type of exercise and about how he works out. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.

Whenever I write about H.I.I.T., people ask me whether intense interval training is actually better for you than more-traditional longer, slower types of workouts. Is it?

“Better” is a loaded word. I don’t think we have proven that one type of exercise is substantially better for you than another, from a physiological standpoint. Both improve health and fitness. But one is far more time efficient. So if the obstacle keeping someone from exercise is time, then H.I.I.T. is the preferred exercise option. I think almost everyone can find a few minutes in their day for a short interval workout.

But most of the studies you describe in your book involve stationary bicycling, which usually means a gym membership that not everyone has. Can other types of activity be adapted for H.I.I.T.?

Absolutely. That’s one of the great things about interval training. It only requires that for a brief period of time, you push yourself out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to reach any set percentage of heart rate or anything like that. You just need to feel some brief discomfort. You can achieve that by running hard to the next signpost when you are out on a trail or picking up the pace while you are walking. In the book, we describe how different types of exercise can be used for H.I.I.T. We have even shown that you can complete a very effective H.I.I.T. program in a stairwell during your lunch break.

Another question I often hear is about weight loss. Since the sessions are so short, does H.I.I.T. burn many calories?

In general, exercise is not a huge contributor to weight control. People don’t like to hear that, but it’s true. It is much easier to cut calories in the diet than to burn large numbers of them with exercise of any kind. With H.I.I.T., there is some evidence that you develop a slight metabolic after-burn, meaning that for up to 24 hours after a session, you burn slightly more calories than if you had not exercised. But the numbers are small, so it’s better to eat less if weight loss is a goal.

Is one minute the shortest possible H.I.I.T. workout or will I be writing about a 30-second workout soon?

I think one minute may be the limit. We are still looking for the exact sweet spot in terms of how little intense effort people can do and still get significant health and fitness benefits. So far, it looks as if three repetitions of 20-second intervals is the lowest effective load. But we are still experimenting. Stay tuned.

What is your exercise routine?

I do something physical every day, and it’s not all H.I.I.T. I play a weekly hockey game. But life is busy. My wife works and we have young kids. So most of the time, it’s intervals, sometimes on a stationary bike, sometimes on other equipment in my basement. I do high-speed pull-ups and push-ups. I’m like everyone else. I fit in as much exercise as I can, when I can, and that would be my advice to anyone.


Pedal for Life; Preventing Injury in Young Pitchers; What is SoulCycle

Episode 17.14 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

new host image

Segment One (01:29): Dave Full is the founder of Pedal For Life, an organization he started after his great-nephew, Garrett Brockway, passed away and was an organ, eye and tissue donor. Through Garrett’s gifts of organ, eye and tissue donation, he helped 132 recipients across the country and many of his cartilage grafts through AlloSource have helped restore mobility for patients. An avid cycler, Dave rallied his cycling group and pitched the idea of riding across the country for donation awareness. The Pedal For Life team just completed their third 10-day, 1,000-mile ride for organ, eye and tissue donation.

AlloSource is one of the largest nonprofit cellular and tissue networks in the country, offering more than 200 types of precise cellular, cartilage, bone, skin and soft-tissue allografts to advance patient healing. For more than 20 years, AlloSource’s products have bridged the proven science of allografts with the advanced technology of cells, offering life-saving and life-enhancing possibilities in spine, sports medicine, foot and ankle, orthopedic, reconstructive, trauma and wound care procedures.

Segment Two(12:25): Dr. Cole and Steve talk about how to reduce throwing injuries in young pitchers.Grant Lewis

  • Young pitchers are at risk for arm injuries due to a number of factors, and pitching while fatigued is perhaps the biggest risk for injury
  • MLB’s Pitch Smart guidelines are designed to reduce injury risk while still allowing for the competitive development of the young player.
  • Parents, coaches, and league administrators would be wise to implement the Pitch Smart recommendations for their pitchers

It is important for each league to set workload limits for their pitchers to limit the likelihood of pitching with fatigue. Research has shown that pitch counts are the most accurate and effective means of doing so.

0 Days 1 Days 2 Days 3 Days 4 Days 5 Days
7-8 50 1-20 21-35 36-50 N/A N/A N/A
9-10 75 1-20 21-35 36-50 51-65 66+ N/A
11-12 85 1-20 21-35 36-50 51-65 66+ N/A
13-14 95 1-20 21-35 36-50 51-65 66+ N/A
15-16 95 1-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76+ N/A
17-18 105 1-30 31-45 46-60 61-80 81+ N/A
19-22 120 1-30 31-45 46-60 61-80 81-105 106+

Segment Three (19:40): Brent Locey introduces SoulCycle and what makes it unique from other indoor cycling experiences. Brent is an instructor at SoulCycle and a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified personal trainer and has been doing both in Chicago for over 2 years.  His first experience in the world of coaching and fitness came as a USS swimming coach and AAU/highschool basketball coach.

Take Your Journey: At SoulCycle we believe that fitness can be joyful. We climb, we jog, we sprint, we dance, we set our intention, and we break through boundaries. The best part: We do it together, as a community. Are you ready?

Change Your Body: SoulCycle is indoor cycling re-invented. Forty-five minutes is all it takes to transform the way you look and feel. Get ready for fat-burning cardio, a full-body workout (we’ve added hand weights and core work!), and choreography to work your core.

Find Your Soul: SoulCycle doesn’t just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls.

Bike Fitting Tips for Beginners

By Britta Gauthier, PT, DPT for Athletico Physical Therapy

As we gear up for summer in the Midwest, more people will turn to biking as a way to enjoy the outdoors and stay active. In fact, statistics show that bicycling is growing as a recreational sport, with a 64 percent increase in cyclists traveling to work from 2000-2012.

Cities are also changing their infrastructure to accommodate and promote increased ridership. For example, the city of Chicago has more than 200 miles of bike lanes, with the goal of extending this network to 645 miles by the year 2020. When adopting biking as a form of transportation or recreation for the first time, it is important to be prepared. Bike safety includes choosing safe routes, using proper gear and knowing how to operate the bicycle. When done correctly, biking is a great way to improve health through increased physical activity.

Unfortunately, new and experienced bicyclists are at risk for injury. The prevalence of non-traumatic bicycle injuries is at about 88 percent. Some of these injuries include experiencing discomfort in the neck, back, hands, hips, knees and feet. These problems may be remedied with a bike fitting.

The Importance of Bike Fit

Proper bike fit helps with comfort, economy and function. It is the process of adjusting a bicycle to meet individual needs at both a musculoskeletal and goal-specific level. Bike fitting also allows for efficient pedaling and safe use of the bicycle.

There are many components of a bike that may be adjusted: frame, wheels, handlebars, stems, brakehoods, seatposts, saddles and cranks to name a few. All of these may be adjusted or adapted to meet the size, strength and flexibility of the rider. Read below for some basic bike fitting tips. However, for a comprehensive evaluation that includes measurement of specific joint angles, assessment of pedaling skills and evaluation of posture, cyclists should consult a bike-fit certified physical therapist.


When choosing a bike for the first time, consider size and function. There are many different styles of bikes to meet specific needs. For example, cyclists who are interested in long distance rides for fitness should consider a road bike. Conversely, those who are interested in commuting to work, might want to consider a hybrid bike that offers more stability and comfort on uneven roads. Consult a local bike shop for specifics on the different types of bikes and frames.


Cyclists should always make sure that the seat, or saddle, of their bike is not tilted, as this may cause strain on the lower back. The seat height should be adjusted so that the rider’s knee is only slightly bent at the most extended position. Aim for 35 degrees for improved alignment and function. With the pedal at the three o’clock position, the rider’s knee should be just above the pedal. This will help prevent knee strain and injury.

Bike Fitting Tips for Beginners  Bike Fitting Tips for Beginners


Cyclists should make sure that they don’t have to reach too far or too low to access their bike’s handlebars, especially if they have a history of back pain. Assuming a more upright posture by increasing the height of the handlebars will be beneficial to reduce strain on the low back and to help visualize the road. Cyclists should also use a neutral grip with their elbows slightly bent to help absorb the shock of the road. This will reduce strain of the shoulder joint when hitting potholes and bumps.


It is important to have good pedaling mechanics for safe and efficient riding. Cyclists should make sure the ball of the foot is positioned over the pedal spindle and choose a shoe with a stiff sole for the best leverage.

Another good tip is to choose a gear that allows for pedaling at 80-90 revolutions per minute (RPM) to lessen chance of injury. To avoid an overuse injury, do not use big gears at low cadences or RPM. It takes time and practice to develop these skills.


Adequate strength and flexibility are crucial. Cyclists should stretch their hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteal muscles because these muscles generate most of the force of pedaling. Working on balance and coordination can help with skills such as turning and breaking.

Bike Fitting Tips for Beginners  Bike Fitting Tips for Beginners

Good Posture                                             Bad Posture

In general, it is important to keep a relaxed grip of the handlebars and change hand positions frequently. Cyclists should also engage their lower back muscles to avoid shifting too much weight into the handlebars. Also, avoid rocking the hips and try to use both legs evenly while pedaling.

Enjoy Cycling and Avoid Injuries

Cycling should be fun, not painful. With proper bike fit, cyclists can avoid overuse injuries and have a more enjoyable experience. If an injury occurs while riding, make sure to schedule an appointment for a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen