Can You Cycle with Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a condition which happens when the cartilage in joints breaks down, mostly in the hips, knees, spine and finger joints. Cycling is an excellent exercise for people with this condition.

Why is Cycling a Good Exercise for Osteoarthritis?

Cycling is a low-impact exercise, and so it limits stress on the weight-bearing joints such as the hips, feet and knees. The cycling movements help in lubricating the joints, and this helps in reducing pain and stiffness.

Cycling helps in muscle strengthening, which aids in supporting and protecting the joints. The weight is also controlled when cycling. This is crucial, since putting more pressure on the affected joints can worsen the situation.

Which Mode of Cycling is Better? Outdoor or Indoor?

Both racing and casual cycling are safe for cyclists with osteoarthritis if balance is not a concern, and the following factors are considered.

Choosing an Indoor Bike

Choose the right bike for you by spending enough time on each one. Settle on the bike you feel comfortable with. Upright stationary bicycles and stationary recumbent bikes are the options you have for indoor bicycles.

Choosing an Outdoor Bike

Try your bike first. You can consult a professional on adjustments needed to accommodate your condition. Then, take your bike to a local shop to ensure you have the right fit. For example, if you have knee and joint pain, it will be more comfortable cycling with your seat in an elevated position.

Tips Before Starting Cycling with Osteoarthritis

Talk to your physical therapist first, if you are new to the cycling exercise. They will help you in determining if cycling is safe for you. Consider your current joints limit and work within those boundaries. Overworking your joints can aggravate arthritis pain.

Start by moving gently. Move your joints smoothly at first to warm up. Increase the cycling speed lightly but ensure it is within your limit.

Get the right gear. When cycling outdoors, ensure you get the right equipment to protect you from injury in case you fall. Wear a helmet, gloves, eye protection (sunglasses) and brightly coloured clothes. You are cycling to get well; falling and getting injured is the last thing you want.

Start with a short ride which is of low intensity. Increase the length and intensity of the trip gradually as you progress. Listen to your body and cycle within your limit.

If you feel any new or unusual pain, stop immediately and consult your physical trainer. Know what pain is normal, and when it is a sign of something more complicated.

Stay active by stretching every day as this will help diminish some pain.

Follow all these guidelines, and your cycling exercise will help in managing osteoarthritis.