You probably remember learning how to ride a bike. But most likely, your six-year-old self had no clue just how beneficial this newly acquired skill could be to your overall health and wellness.
One of the most popular and enjoyable fitness activities, cycling was recently celebrated in the medical community for enhancing cardiac health, thanks to a 2009 study published by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Physical therapists had embraced the bike long before this, however, for its role in post-surgical, post-injury rehabilitation.
Bike riding has specific advantages for people who suffer from back and knee problems. Cycling builds the large muscles in the hip, back and thigh. It specifically helps strengthen the muscles responsible for stabilizing individual vertebrae and nourishes discs as they heal. Lower down the body, where a breakdown of cartilage is often responsible for knee pain, the action of pedaling a bike encourages nourishment of cartilage in a low-stress manner. Plus, the overall health benefits of cycling—enhanced cardiac health, improved circulation and better all-around strength and flexibility—can enhance any rehabilitation program.
Cycling is not without risk, however. To avoid stress injuries, you need to follow a few simple procedures. Here are a few tips to get you started:
• Find a seat that allows for an upright, balanced position. Many seats encourage a “forward bent,” which places stress on your back, neck, elbows and wrists. Sitting totally erect is the most ergonomically healthy way to ride.
• Employ a precycling workout that improves strength and flexibility in hamstrings and quadriceps.
• Take frequent breaks to stretch your neck, arms and shoulders when riding for long periods of time or at high intensity.
At Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation we offer a Bike Fitting Service and Flexibility Assessment especially if you have recently gotten a new bicycle or are noticing some aches and pains starting back to cycling indoors or outdoors. Feel free to contact us regarding either one of these services!