Now that spring has sprung throughout the nation, are you thinking of dusting off the old bike and enjoying some two-wheeled exercise in the sunshine? Good idea—but there's a hitch. While cycling may be good for your heart and lungs, it can wreak havoc on your kidneys and family jewels, according to a recent study.
Published in the journal Injury Prevention, the study found that bicycling-related injuries to the genitalia and kidneys are worryingly common. Analyzing 10 years' worth of data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (a database that includes information about emergency visits to roughly 100 hospitals nationwide), researchers found that on average 4,000 poor souls sought treatment after straddling a bike and then suffering a crunching jolt to the kidneys or genitalia.
Some of these injuries were from falling over and hitting the ground, but 70 percent were from direct bike-to-crotch contact (i.e., hitting the top tube or the handlebars). Researchers also found that 61 percent of these damaged folks were men or boys.
Alarming, sure, but there is some good news for grown men: the study found that kids were nearly 10 times more likely to go to the ER for these types of injuries than adults. Then again, men that do go to the hospital are more likely to be admitted for further treatment compared to the whippersnappers—roughly 12 percent of adults compared to 7 percent of youths.
So is it only safe to ride a bike if your name is Iron Balls McGinty? Hardly, says one doc. "This particular study, if anything, shows that the vast majority of people who come to the ER come for minor injuries," said Landon Trost, a urologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in an interview with Reuters.
Knowing that an injury to the crotch or kidneys is possible, when saddling up it's best just to ride safe, experts say—and to use something seemingly in short supply these days: common sense.
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