Sports injury cycle back on track

2 minute read

The lockdown-induced slump in hospitalisations didn’t last long, and worst off are the cyclists – probably because they don’t look human.

Covid lockdowns. Love them or hate them, they certainly had a lingering impact on our lives.

And while the jury may still be out on just how effective the pre-vaccine social restrictions really were in combating the pangolin’s revenge, some outcomes are indisputable.

For example, the flu seasons of 2020 and 2021 in Australia were so mild as to be practically non-existent.

Another major health effect of lockdowns was a dramatic slump in the number of hospital admissions due to sporting injuries.

According to data released this week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the curtailing of the antics of the weekend warriors resulted in a rare downwards dip in the serious injury rate in the 2019-20 statistics.

Alas, as soon as restrictions began to lift, that rate quickly bounced back to pre-covid trends, with 66,500 Aussies admitted to hospital in 2020-21 due to sporting mishaps, an increase of 14,200 on the previous year.

More than half of those hospitalisations were for fractures, most commonly a fractured arm or shoulder.

And the biggest single sporting contributor to the hospital wards as restrictions eased? Cycling!

Yes, lycra-clad lads and lasses accounted for 9800 injury hospitalisations in 2020-21, up from 8000 in 2019-20, or an increase of 35 injury hospitalisations per week.

“Unlike many other sports, there was a rise in the number of cycling injuries in 2019-20 and 2020-21, which may reflect increased participation rates in solo sports with the onset of covid-19 that has continued with the lifting of restrictions,” institute spokesperson Dr Heather Swanston said in an accompanying media release.

Which brings us to this survey out of Queensland University of Technology, which found an uncomfortably large proportion of respondents – a lot of whom were regular cyclists themselves – regarded cyclists as less than fully human.

A key caveat of the AIHW report is that it does not include information on people who sought treatment at hospital emergency departments, GP clinics, sports medicine centres or physiotherapists.

So chances are the ED of your local hospital is still going to be even more overwhelmed than usual on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Just like in the good old days, before covid. 

Be a good sport and send your story tips to

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×