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Common Injuries in MX

Involving off-road action and jumps, motocross is exciting, but holds plenty of risk, which is escalated when it comes to freestyle motocross. In fact, around 95% of riders experience an injury at some point. To give you a better idea of the risks, here's a look at five common motocross injuries, along with an indication of how long they can keep you off your bike.

Fractured clavicle

What is it and how does it happen?

More commonly known as a broken collarbone, this is one of the most common motocross injuries. Your collarbone runs from the breast bone and extends to each shoulder, so is vulnerable to fracture any time you experience a blow or fall. One possible cause of a broken collarbone is when you instinctively put your hands out in front of you to break your fall.

What are the treatment options?

A fractured clavicle can be a serious injury, so it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Immediately following the accident, use a scarf or towel as a sling to stabilise the affected arm. If the bone is visible through the skin or the pain is severe, go to A&E. Depending on the severity of the fracture, you might need to wear a sling while the bone repairs itself or even undergo surgery to insert a plate and screws.

How soon will I recover?

It can take around six to eight weeks for the injury to heal and the same again to regain full strength, with the help of a physiotherapist.

Acromioclavicular joint injury

What is it and how does it happen?

The acromioclavicular joint is located where the shoulder and collarbone meet. It's prone to such injuries as sprains, torn tendons and ligaments, and dislocation. These injuries can be severe and painful. Causes include falls where you're thrown forward from the bike and land on one of your shoulders.

What are the treatment options?

Treatments depend upon the nature and severity of the injury. Milder injuries might require rest and support, while more serious damage may need surgery. Again, it’s important to seek medical advice immediately.

How soon will I recover?

Rehab times range from a few weeks to a few months. Again, physiotherapy can help to build strength back into the joint. A good shoulder support device can offer valuable protection after an acromioclavicular joint injury, or as a preventative measure.

Broken or fractured ankle

What is it and how does it happen?

The ankle is vulnerable to injury following a fall or collision. You might hear the bone break or find you have trouble putting weight on the foot. Often, it can be hard to determine whether you’ve experienced a break or simply an ankle sprain, so seeking medical advice is important.

What are the treatment options?

For less severe fractures, you might be fitted with a cast and given crutches. If the fracture is more severe, surgery might be necessary to realign the bones before the cast is fitted.

How soon will I recover?

Recovery time will be between six and 12 weeks. For serious breaks and fractures, you may need to wear a cast for six weeks. Once it’s removed, you might be on crutches for a further period of time, followed by physio to build up strength in the joint. However, rehab time will vary depending on the severity of the break or fracture.

Anterior cruciate ligament ruptures

What is it and how does it happen?

ACL tears and ruptures are the most common injuries to the knee. The ACL ligament is found within the knee joint. It connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. Collisions and landing a jump while your knee is bent are possible ways in which you can rupture the ACL ligament.

What are the treatment options?

The main treatment is rest. In some cases, surgery to reconstruct the ligament is recommended.

How soon will I recover?

Initially, it may take around three weeks for full movement to return, following the injury. Physiotherapy can help with this. However, it can take up to a year to recover and you may experience long-term effects with regards to your range of motion. Because of the nature of this injury, taking preventative measures, such as investing in a knee support device, is a good idea.

Fractured wrist or arm

What is it and how does it happen?

Sudden severe impact to the wrist or arm can result in a break or fracture. Typical causes include falling awkwardly on your wrist or putting your hands out to brace yourself during a crash. As with the ankle, a fracture of the wrist can be confused with a sprain. It is therefore important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

What are the treatment options?

A minor fracture will usually require a plaster cast or removable splint. You might also be advised to wear a sling. For more severe breaks, the bones might need to be realigned. This could mean surgery to insert screws, wires or plates.

How soon will I recover?

Minor fractures can take a couple of months to heal. For more severe breaks, it can take up to eight months. Once the cast is removed, physiotherapy can help to build up your strength.

While all of these injuries will heal over time, they're painful and inconvenient at best and, at worst, they might permanently affect your movement. The best advice is to avoid crashes and collisions, but given the inherent nature of motocross, taking preventative measures to avoid these and other injuries is a more sensible approach. As well as support devices and a high-quality helmet, other pieces of kit to consider are motocross boots, chest protectors, and goggles. It's also important to stick to any rules and safety guidelines, such as speed limits, and to only ride if you're fit, alert and trained to participate in competitive motocross.