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Old 08-26-08, 09:40 PM   #1
Yen
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Bone density and clipless riding

In my second clipless fall the other day I gently fell on my hip. I have bruises on both shins but my hip is fine. As I contemplated that on the remainder of the ride, I began wondering if I ought to schedule an appointment for a bone density test. My mom has osteoporosis, and she has had broken bones from just simple falls. I've never broken a bone but heredity is a risk factor.

Has anyone else considered this? We've discussed knees, hips, backs, hearts, colons, eyes, and other 50+ parts, but I don't recall seeing the topic of getting our bones checked. It would be nice to know that my hips or other parts won't shatter into a million pieces if (when) I fall off the bike (again).
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Old 08-26-08, 10:08 PM   #2
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If Osteoporosis is a hereditary risk factor in your family, I hope you are supplementing with a Calcium Citrate supplement like Citrical or one of the generics. Use the Citrate because you can metabolize the calcium easier than a Calcium Carbonate supplement, by the way, and make sure it has a Vitamin D supplement in it as well, as that will help with the Ca uptake as well. Talk to your Dr or a Dietitian for proper dosing amounts, though.

Do some load bearing exercises as well, by the way, like freeweights and body mass utilizers like squats, etc. Load bearing exercise will encourage greater bone density as part of the metabolic process. It also builds stronger muscles, so you have a +/+ situation there.

A Bone Density test would also be a recommendation I'd make, since a routine of exclusively cycling can lead to Osteopenia in the lower spine, which is a pre Osteoporosis condition.



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Old 08-26-08, 11:54 PM   #3
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Back in January I had a bone density test as part of my regular check up. My density was upwards of normal but not great. My doctor recommended more calcium, so I have 2 servings of dairy every day (more or less), and take 1500 mg. CA as a supplement.

However, I haven't fallen in over a year, so until my next check up, I won't know if my bone density has increased or not. So I continue to lift weights and walk, because weight-bearing exercise is so important to maintain bone density.

For the record, I'm 53 and in very good health.

Yen, if you're wondering, just go get checked. It isn't that expensive, and you'll have the answers you seek.
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Old 08-27-08, 05:07 AM   #4
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I don't get the obsession with falling that seems to be associated with clipless pedals. I always found them far less likely to cause a fall than clips and straps, at least if the straps are tight enough to do any good. To get similar performance you would need clips, straps, and cleats. With that setup I would think you would be FAR more likely to fall.

Watching bone density is a separate issue, but a valid concern.
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Old 08-27-08, 05:28 AM   #5
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I don't get the obsession with falling that seems to be associated with clipless pedals. I always found them far less likely to cause a fall than clips and straps, at least if the straps are tight enough to do any good. To get similar performance you would need clips, straps, and cleats. With that setup I would think you would be FAR more likely to fall.

Watching bone density is a separate issue, but a valid concern.
+1

But, you should be aware of your bone density.

Some interesting studies out there on the bone density (or extreme lack of it) of bicycle racers. This has previously been WIDELY discussed on various BFN forums. You might say it has been beaten to death! For example:

50+ Update on osteoporosis, bicycling and aging

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Old 08-27-08, 06:24 AM   #6
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Donna had a bone density test and was advised to take a calcium supplement, along with vitamin D(to aid absorption). Her bone density is good, but her doctor felt that at her age (just turned 55), that she err on the safe side rather than have to worry about it later. So, have the bone density test done, and follow your doc's advice, having any preventive test done can't be a bad thing!
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Old 08-27-08, 06:51 AM   #7
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I had a bone density scan a few years ago and was diagnosed with osteopenia. I've been taking medication since that time and have seen improvement in the hip and spine area. The forearms continue to be my weakest area

I've been using clipless for a few years and have taken a few tumbles but fortunately I've never broken a bone At first my doctor was concerned about my cycling. He didn't feel it was the best or safest exercise for someone with brittle bones. He suggested I also do walking and weight lifting. I followed his directions and he's changed his mind about my cycling

Get the bone scan. If you do have a problem now is the time to take action.
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Old 08-27-08, 07:30 AM   #8
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In my second clipless fall the other day I gently fell on my hip. I have bruises on both shins but my hip is fine. As I contemplated that on the remainder of the ride, I began wondering if I ought to schedule an appointment for a bone density test. My mom has osteoporosis, and she has had broken bones from just simple falls. I've never broken a bone but heredity is a risk factor.

Has anyone else considered this? We've discussed knees, hips, backs, hearts, colons, eyes, and other 50+ parts, but I don't recall seeing the topic of getting our bones checked. It would be nice to know that my hips or other parts won't shatter into a million pieces if (when) I fall off the bike (again).

Bone density tests (and bone density) have almost no correlation with bone breakage. It's a feel-good exercise that's a money earner for the medical industry. Bone quality is as or more important than density. That's the quality of the microarchetectural structure of the bone and it's not measured by a bone density test.

Tests on mountain bikers indicates far better bone density than road bikers. Since road biking is a non-weight bearing activity, it's probably as bad as swimming for bone health. I would add jogging and/or weight training to your weekly activities. Jogging not only is weight bearing, but the impact/shock generates electrical impulses which also helps build bone strength.

The problem with weight training is that there is little scientific research relating weight training and health issues like bone breakage. What there is I found in Physical Activity and Health
(an $80.00 college level text book that's relatively current (2006) and very readable) and Younger Next Year . Though the latter should be read by everyone, it doe not deal significantly with bone strength.

In Physical Activity and Health it's reported that the only evidence of bone strength improvement is when you lift relatively heavy weights (something like at least 10% of bone breakage) to failure. An example might be about 8 reps of a weight that is 85% of a weight that you can only lift once for that particular exercise. You need multiple exercises, 3 circuits and at least twice a week. The best definition of failure I've found is that rep where you can't maintain good form/technique: you don't want to hurt yourself. In that vain, I wouldn't want to see what my 1 rep max weight was without professional help.

I lift to failure in 6 to 8 reps for about 6 or 7 exercises. You want total body exercises as opposed to isolating muscle groups. Squats is one of the best and helps a lot on the tough climbs. Upright rows and push-ups are also great, but you'll do more reps to failure on the push-ups.

I'm 69 and don't worry a lot about falling on my mountain bike. I fall several times a year and I ride some fast/rough downhills. But, I've been weight training for about 30 years and jogging for over 40. Plus I've done a lot portaging of over 100 lbs and lots of backpacking, so I don't worry about it. It all helps slow the after 40 decay process.

From population studies, it's apparent that those countries with the highest dairy intake have the highest bone breakage. High doses of calcium supplement, media articles and MDs aside, is not the answer.

Also, if your worried about being clipped-in, consider switching to SPD pedals with #56 cleat. It's multi-release and lets go in those falling moments with one's natural knee-jerk reaction. It holds well enough to pedal full-circles and do bunny-hops. I'm a cleat wimp and have never failed to unclip when falling in the 7 years I've been biking. I keep them resonably tight too.

Al

Last edited by alcanoe; 08-27-08 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:32 AM   #9
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Two falls is enough Yen, you're in Tombay now, so you can stop with the falling. Especially in the middle of the road where you worry about your melon gettin runned over.
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Old 08-27-08, 10:37 AM   #10
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Stop fretting and you'll stop falling. Fear is the mind-killer...
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Old 08-27-08, 10:47 AM   #11
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is Yen subconsciously attracted to falling? is this a cry for help from one who is overly susceptible to the tug of gravity? or, like me, is she just a klutz?
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Old 08-27-08, 09:31 PM   #12
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I'm almost 54 with a small frame and my mother has osteopenia. I had a bone density test about 5 years ago which showed me on the very low end of normal. My diet in my teen and early adult years probably didn't help. I take calcium and do a fair amount of running/walking but your post was a good reminder for me to ask my dr. about getting checked again.
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