Now is the time to lift the kickstand and roll your bicycle out of the garage. May celebrates National Biking Month, and warming temperatures through late Spring allow for pleasant weather conditions to ride down a favorite rural or urban trail. It’s a fun activity to enjoy solo or with your family, at any age.
Those dealing with chronic arthritic pain may feel reluctant to hop on a bike, even for a low impact ride. Yet, cycling is a great exercise for joint mobility and muscular strength and flexibility. You don’t have to suit up like a Tour de France contender to experience the full cardiovascular benefits, but it is important to be comfortable and prepared for a safe ride.
Start With a Stretch
If you let all of winter pass without a spin around the neighborhood, a quick series of stretches before resuming regular rides may help ease your legs and arms back into the habit. You will ride with your arms outstretched and legs in constant motion, so your limbs should have a good range of motion as you set out on your route.
How you adjust your bike saddle will determine your posture as you ride. Ideally, your knees should bend slightly at the bottom of a pedal stroke, but if your knees come up too high on the upstroke your seat is probably set incorrectly. A specialist at your local bike shop can help you determine the best saddle height for your frame, so you don’t end up hunched over and hurting as you ride.
Know Your Limits
When setting up your route, start with a length best suited to your current ability. If you’re back on a bike after a while, try a leisurely loop, with low cadence, of about thirty minutes. Check with local shops or cycling organizations for charted routes for your riding level. As you progress, add more time and speed if comfort allows. Don’t forget to wear protective gear – the right shoes, helmet and gloves. Biking gloves are especially helpful for hand and elbow joints as they can absorb some of the shock of riding on a rough terrain.
Above all else, have fun. The more you ride, the more confidence you gain on the bike, and the exercise can improve your joint mobility and allow you to better manage pain. At Bon Secours Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists, our physicians and therapists are here to answer your questions and provide treatments to help you improve your exercise regimen and quality of life.
Contact us today to learn more about our procedures and how we can help you.