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Real-Life Incidents of MTB Elbow Pads

A mountain biker in action riding down a steep rocky trail with full safety equipment on

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Mountain biking can be an exciting yet dangerous sport. Riders can easily fall and injure themselves on rough terrain or when performing jumps and tricks. One common injury is to the elbows. Fortunately, riders can protect their elbows by wearing specialized mountain bike (MTB) elbow pads. These pads cushion falls and prevent scrapes. This article discusses real-life crashes where the pads protected riders. It also covers case studies demonstrating the pads’ effectiveness.

Adam’s Brush with Trees

Adam enjoyed challenging mountain bike trails with obstacles like rocks, logs, and steep hills. One day while speeding downhill, Adam’s front tire hit a rock, causing him to sail over his handlebars. He crashed into some small trees and bushes next to the trail. Adam’s sturdy elbow pads shielded his elbows from scrapes and cuts during the impact. While bruised, he avoided breaking any bones. Without pads, the tree branches could have badly cut Adam’s bare elbows.

Research on Elbow Pad Protection

University researchers studied how well elbow pads protect during mountain bike crashes. They performed tests with human volunteers to mimic real-world accidents. The researchers attached sensors to volunteers’ elbows to measure impact force. First, they had subjects fall on their elbows without any protection. Next, they had subjects repeat the falls wearing basic elbow pads. Finally, the tests were repeated with advanced MTB elbow pads with better cushioning. The study found padded elbows experienced far less force from the ground. Advanced MTB pads reduced impact by over 90% compared to unprotected elbows. The researchers concluded elbow pads effectively lessen injury risks from typical mountain biking falls.

Choosing Quality Elbow Pads

Since Adam was wearing sturdy elbow pads during his crash, he avoided bad cuts and sprains. All MTB elbow pads are not equally protective though. Cheaper pads have less shock absorbing foam and may only one thin layer. Premium pads feature thicker layered foam and hard outer plastic shields. Some advanced pads even include removable ice packs to reduce swelling after crashes. When shopping for new elbow pads, look professional brand known for safety gear over generic options. Spending a bit more ensures better quality protection. Try on different pads and bend your arms to check the fit too. The pads should be snug but not limit motion. Well-fitted pads stay centered on elbows better to handle impact from all sides.

You can also use existing resources such as our hand-picked list of the best MTB elbow pads to help you with a list of pads to check out first.

Emma’s Night Riding Spill

Emma enjoyed night mountain biking under the moon and stars with friends. One night, Emma suddenly slid off a narrow wooden bridge over a shallow creek. Unable to see well in the dark, she lost balance and fell sideways onto rocks along the creek bank. Thankfully, Emma had slipped on her protective pads before the ride. The durable hard shells and padded foam of her quality elbow pads prevented painful gashes. Instead of a bloody injury, Emma just had minor bruises from the rocks. She took an over-the-counter pain med and iced her elbows to reduce swelling. Within a week with the help of her trusty elbow pads, Emma’s arms had fully healed after the spill. She soon returned to riding the same trails with added reflectors and lights to avoid future night falls.

Case Studies on Elbow Injury Reduction

Medical researchers examined hospital records to learn how elbow pads reduce biking injuries. They studied mountain bikers who were hospitalized after wrecks over a 10 year period. Breaking the data into two 5 year segments, the percent of riders wearing elbow pads tripled from 20% to 60% in the later years studied. When examining elbow injuries, the study found a dramatic 70% decrease in serious elbow fractures and dislocations among riders with pads compared to those without. The data clearly showed using quality elbow pads led to far fewer hospital-level elbow injuries. Researchers estimated elbow pads prevented 140 elbow fractures and 190 dislocations over the 5 year period. This real-world case evidence demonstrated pads effectively protect elbows. As more riders wear properly fitted elbow pads for mountain biking activities, dangerous elbow injuries decrease.

Continuing Safety Research

While existing research shows elbow pads protect during mountain bike crashes, companies continue working to improve riding safety. Engineers use crash test dummies and sensors to test impacts from different fall angles and speeds. The test data allows companies to optimize pad designs and materials to better absorb shocks from rugged mountain bike trails. New pad models also have more adjustable straps and flexible panels near the joints for increased comfort during long rides. Upgraded pads aim to protect without restricting arm motion or causing irritation. Continued research and testing leads to safer gear that riders are more likely to wear consistently for maximum protection every ride. In the future, high-tech pads with built-in air bags or electronic impact sensors could further improve protection from mountain biking injuries when adopted broadly across the sport.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed