How Bicycling Can Relieve Arthritis Pain
Arthritis pain can be relieved through low impact exercises such as bicycling, swimming, and walking. Get ready to have a great time outdoors while getting stronger with cycling!
In this article:
- The Benefits of Bicycling
- A Word From the Arthritis Foundation
- How to Get Started
- Important Notes Before You Start
Bicycling: A Fun Way To Relieve Arthritis Pain
The Benefits of Bicycling
1. Bicycling is a Perfect Exercise For People with Osteoarthritis
A routine of cycling keeps the knees moving through their range of motion and at the same time you strengthen the muscles the support your knees.
2. Great to Maintain and Lose Extra Weight
For an every-one pound of weight loss, the amount of pressure taken off of an arthritic knee is equal to four pounds. If a person lost even 10 pounds while keeping up a bicycling routine, they have taken 40 pounds of pressure off of their knees. The effects will naturally increase more mobility and decrease pain from arthritis during movement.
3. Bicycling is a Proven Program to Help Relieve Arthritis Pain
It makes sense to continue to bicycle for as long as a person is able.
Results from a study in Disability and Rehabilitation revealed that as patients age, the ability to cycle decreases 5% each year. The chance of continuing cycling is 1.98 times greater for men than for women. However, the study did not show the results of someone who continued a cycling program every week or at least 3-4 times each week.
The study was based on three groups of bicycling people – knee osteoarthritis patients, knee replacement patients, and patients who had meniscal or ligament injury.
Another interesting study was published in the Journal of Gerontology compared high-intensity cycling to low-intensity cycling in knee osteoarthritis patients. The conclusion was that low-intensity cycling was as effective as high-intensity cycling for improving the patient’s function and decreased arthritic pain and increased overall movement.
A Word From the Arthritis Foundation
According to the Arthritis Foundation YES Tool App:
“Cycling offers efficient, low-impact exercise for millions of Americans. It is a good cardiovascular exercise that strengthens leg muscles as well as the stabilizing muscles of the core. The repetitive knee motion without constant impact is especially good for arthritic knees because it encourages the production and flushing of fluids through the joint, lubricating it and washing away waste products. Cycling, while seated, is relatively non-weight bearing.”
The Arthritis Foundation goes on to offer the following:
- A recumbent bike puts almost no weight on your upper body and the seat has back support. It can be a good option for people with arthritis as well.
- Mounting and dismounting a bike may be difficult. You can use a unisex frame rather than a high-bar frame or you can lay your bike on the ground, step over it, then lift the bike back up.
- Newer technologies, such as automatic shifters built in the pedal mechanism and electronic brakes and shifters can make cycling accessible for many people.
Note: Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but you may consider the above recommendations.
How to Get Started
- A correctly fitted bike is essential. Have a professional at a bicycle shop help you.
- Recreational biking on paved bike paths and roads exerts less impact on the joints than does off-road biking.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Slowly increase on time, frequency, distance, and speed of your rides.
Important Notes Before You Start
Bicycling has kept people with knee arthritis moving and active. However, if you have arthritis you know that there are flare-ups from time to time.
- Rest during flares and supplement with other activities.
- It is important to put off cycling and other activities during these flare-ups.
- A doctor or physical therapist can advise how to handle these periods.
To fully manage knee arthritis, it is best to combine cycling with a solid strength training and stretching program. Stronger and more flexible muscles will help keep the knee joint safe from injury. Cycling is a repetitive activity, so it is best to not overdo it and to combine it with other forms of exercise.
The Arthritis Foundation states that walking and water exercise are good options on alternate days.
Are you ready to get more healthy and have fun through bicycling? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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