Unplanned dismounts are just a part of learning how to ride a unicycle. Really, they’re a part of the learning curve for all wheeled machines, from bicycles to skateboards and everything in between. But the nature of unicycle riding often means that learners will enjoy more than their fair, proportional share of falls.
The thing is, while practice makes better, it doesn’t make perfect. Even the most experienced, adept one-wheel artists out there still periodically take a tumble from the saddle. There’s no substitute for experience, but the next best thing is personal protective gear, and you should never ride without it.
Knee, elbow,and wrist pads constitute a vital portion of most unicyclists’ repertoires of protective gear. They can prove instrumental in protecting you in the event of a fall.
Knee and elbow pads protect the bony extremities of the joints in your arms and legs. Both of these types of pads provide protection against impact which can break bones, but they also protect against sand, rocks, and gravel that can cause burns, scrapes, and other lacerations. By preventing cuts like these, and keeping the area covered, you also protect yourself against the risk of secondary infection as well.
Knee pads, specifically, protect against impact to the patella, or kneecap, an area of the body that is remarkably prone to impact-related injuries. Knee pads also cushion the knees, helping to protect the meniscus and other ligaments that would be strained on impact. Many of them are EVA padded in order to absorb and distribute the pressures arising from impact, spreading them out over a wider area to minimize the risk of injury.
Wrist pads and wrist guards are also a very valuable component of personal protective equipment, especially for unicycle riders. It’s a natural reflex to “reach” out with the hands when trying to break the impact of a fall. Despite being instinctive, this actually raises the risk of injury to the rider, as the wrists can be damaged on impact. Worst of all, impacting the hands and wrists at odd angles can drastically increase the risk of sprains and fractures.
Wrist pads and guards help to stiffen the wrist, making it less likely to suffer an injury on impact. They also provide a certain measure of protection against abrasion.
While knee, elbow and wrist pads can provide a significantly heightened level of protection to the wearer, it is also important to train yourself on “how to fall” properly, in order to minimize the risk of injuries. Together, good habits and protective equipment can diminish the likelihood of scrapes, bruises, and worse.
A Note on “Falling Properly”
While it’s instinctual to throw out the hands when falling or to land hard on the knees or elbows, these instincts should be avoided. Falling on bony extremities places an undue amount of pressure on these narrow pressure points that can cause a wide range of injuries.
Instead of reaching out to break your fall with your hands, or landing hard on your knees or elbows, try coaching yourself to break your fall by rolling through it. Try to come down gently on the softer parts of your body, rolling with the fall to direct the energy away from your body rather than through it.
Rolling with a fall, over to the side of your shoulder and back is sometimes sufficient to dissipate the energy from the fall, and can minimize injury, as can avoiding the habit of breaking the fall with your hands.
Are Knee, Elbow, and Wrist Pads Enough? What Else Do I Need?
While wearing knee, elbow, and wrist pads can protect you against some unplanned dismounts, as can learning to fall more safely, it’s not enough. There’s other safety gear you should add to your collection in order to ensure that you are as prepared against injury as possible.
A helmet is the single most important piece of protective equipment out there, and you should never, ever ride without one. While most falls are minor, the vast majority of serious injuries that result from falls involve impact to the head. A helmet will provide a great deal of protection and comfort - never ride without one.
While not entirely necessary, gloves can protect your hands against abrasion while you’re riding or even in the event of a fall. Many wrist guards are actually built into the design of gloves, and we even offer half-finger gloves here at Unicycle.com for additional sensitivity.
Among the knee pads and elbow pad sets that we offer here at Unicycle.com, we also carry Kris Holm Percussion Leg Armor that provides an extra degree of protection to the knees and shins.
They fully cover both the fronts and backs of the legs, with polyurethane leg patches to protect against tire abrasion and knee padding that extends high above the knee. Leg protectors like these can protect against impact, abrasion, and incidental strikes against the frame’s crown.
Made with tough, 1200 denier ballistic nylon for incredible protection, they provide excellent coverage to the knees, the shins, and the sides of the legs. They’re also comfortable, with vents for better airflow to keep your knees and legs cool, and can even be machine washed.
While light sneakers or shoes will make it easier for you to comfortably and effectively handle your unicycle, it’s also important to think about protection. Shoes will protect your feet if you fall off of a unicycle, so should you consider wearing closed-toed running shoes or sneakers.
Contact Us for More Details
Whether you’re looking for elbow pads and wrist guards, a new helmet, or leg armor with tough plastic plates and adjustable elastic straps, we have what you need here at Unicycle.com.
If you have any questions about which protective gear is the best, would like recommendations or more pointers about safe riding, please get in touch with us at 678-494-4962 or try our Live Chat option for questions as well. We’d be happy to help.