August 21, 2017 Patient Education 0

Staying Healthy While Cycling

Cycling is a great activity to either maintain your health or work on striving towards a better you. As fitness becomes an increasingly normal part of life, figuring out how you are going to engage in exercise is imperative. Cycling is one of the most beloved forms of exercise for a myriad of reasons.

The Better Health Channel made a list of all of the health benefits that cycling has. While there are far too many to reiterate here, you should be aware of the basic health benefits of cycling and why cycling provides this benefit. Cycling is an aerobic exercise. As you probably learned in your seventh grade health class, aerobic exercises are exercises that don’t cut off the supply off oxygen to your bloodstream. Almost all aerobic exercises are cardio exercises, such as walking or running. Cycling ranks extremely highly amongst aerobic exercises because of the intensity. While you can, of course, run as fast as you want to or walk with a brisker pace, the guide provided by cycling helps you to consistently challenge yourself.

Cardio exercises do many things for your body. The first, of course, is that they exercise your heart. This can help prevent heart disease, and generally increase your lifespan. Cardio exercises are some of the best at burning fat. Cardio exercises do little to convert the burnt fat into muscle, but they are a great way to lose your fluffier parts. Cycling has a leg up on the competition here, as well, because cycling does help to build your core and leg muscles.

Cardio exercises also help to lower your stress level. For many people, there is a meditative feeling to exercise, particularly exercises that are done over long periods.

If it’s important to you, cycling also has a fantastic social aspect. As most people cycle or spin in classes, it becomes a social hub for many people. This can help to fight against anxiety, depression and negative thoughts.

So What’s Stopping You?

While it seems that cycling is all upside, there is one common issue preventing people from getting out and cycling: for some people, cycling causes discomfort or pain, especially in their lower back.

This is entirely normal, whether you are in good health, or requiring physical therapy or rehabilitation. Ask Fitness Coach did a fantastic in-depth piece on why these issues arise. While the aforementioned article may require a PhD or a thesaurus, the principle behind it is fairly basic. The posture required to cycle properly is not quite natural to humanity. Prolonged bending at the waist, especially when combined with the physical exertion required for cycling, can cause stretching of the lower prolonged flexion, and compression of the higher prolonged flexion. Given sufficient rest and stretching, this should not become a problem, so don’t go running to your orthopedic surgeon quite yet.

This back pain is especially predominant in new cyclers. Simply put, your body will adapt to the stretching and pulling of the muscles in your back after only a short time. However, this is a huge discouraging factor for new cyclists. Being that cycling is a great hobby and a fantastic way to get in shape, early negativity can prevent many people from getting up and improving their lives. Thus, it is important for anyone looking to get into cycling to understand the whole host of ways that you can prevent the pain, and avoid going from the gym to an orthopedic doctor.

So How Do You Stop the Pain?

The first thing you should look at doing to keep yourself out of physical therapy after your cycling class is to re-evaluate your posture. When you’re preparing to spin make sure that you are sat in the most natural position as possible, so as to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your spine.

You should also be supplementing your cycling with other workouts, particularly back and core workouts. While core workouts may seem like a non-sequitur to back problems, back rehabilitation program will involve heavy core workouts, as they work the same groups of muscles as back workouts do. You don’t even need to upgrade your gym plan or take too much time out of your day to strengthen your back and core muscles. These no-equipment workouts can help you strengthen your core in only fifteen minutes before you leave to your cycling class, or you can stretch and flex your back muscles in the locker room.

Finally, you may want to take a look into some orthopedic products. Orthopedic products help to strengthen your posture by providing a solid foundation. By using an orthopedic pillow on your bicycle seat or wearing orthopedic shoes, you can help to prevent back pain. You may also want to consider an orthopedic brace for under your gym clothes. The brace will keep your muscles tight, and won’t allow for pulling and stretching of your back muscles.

Cycling is a wonderful, physical activity. No one should have to experience physical pain while enjoying it, but with these preventative measures, no one has to.

Eric Turner on Linkedin
Eric Turner
Eric Turner is a content writer who has been working with Orthopedic Associates since early 2017. Eric started writing the day after he learned to read, and hasn't stopped since.