If you spend enough time riding up and down hills and wildlife trails on a mountain bike, sooner or later, you are probably going to succumb to the odds and fate and wind up with some kind of injury. The different types of injuries you can achieve from mountain biking vary considerably; in some cases you might need a combination of intense and long lasting physical therapy and surgery, while in some other cases you might be fortunate enough not to need anything beyond taking a few days or weeks off and applying a good amount of ice and heat. However, no matter what kind of injury you wind up with, almost all injuries you can experience from mountain biking are similar in that you will typically have to leave some sort of a gap between the time you are injured and the time when it is safe and practical for you to return to riding through your favorite parts of the great outdoors. During that time, you will need to rehabilitate the injury and build your strength and coordination back up to the levels they were at before the injury.
To be able to bridge the gap between your injury and your return to the sport effectively it will be necessary to form some sort of plan for rehabilitation, strength, and conditioning. It is worth taking the time to make a good plan, as the results from real world mountain bikers in the woods and scientific tests that have been done suggest that without a consistent pattern and plan for rehabilitation you increase your odds of experiencing the same injury over and over again. Furthermore, you run the risk of having a lower level of performance when you return to your bike and the trails. Although it may seem to run against your intuition, the best plan for recovery is not to simply go to the gym and pump some iron until you feel good enough to get back on your bike. In fact, it is possible that such a plan could lengthen your recovery time if it results in another injury. Instead, it is important to keep in mind the following mountain bike injury rehab strategies so you will be ready to return to your favorite parts of the mountain when your body and mind are back in riding shape.
The first mountain bike injury rehab strategy you should keep in mind is to train unilaterally. When you begin to train for the purpose of rehabilitating after your injury, you should begin by working on each limb of your body separately. The problem with exercising limbs bilaterally is that the side of your body that is stronger will attempt to take over the exercise movement so the weaker side of the body is protected. This commonly occurs during activities such as squats or bench presses. When the stronger side of your body takes over to protect the weaker side, this can lead to and exacerbate the strength imbalance that may already be present because of the injury you recently experienced. You need to make a focus of your workout to exercise the weaker limb just as much as you exercise the stronger limb; this will help you return faster to your levels of performance before injury. In your lower body you can work on split squats, lunges, and step ups, while in the upper body you can work on rows, pullovers, and shoulder presses.
The second mountain bike injury rehab strategy you should keep in mind is to follow the rule of the weak side. This is related to the strategy of training unilaterally. Your goal here again is to keep from reinforcing the imbalance of strength that will naturally occur when you injure one member of a paired set of limbs. To keep both sides balanced, try to exercise your weaker side before you exercise your stronger side so you can let the weaker side set the pace of the reps you go through and the load your body can bear. Additionally,