BENGALURU: Bicycles are now being used not just for commuting but also for recreation and fitness purposes. Cycling improves cardiovascular health and can help those suffering from arthritis. With proper guidance, people who are unable to pursue sports that impact the knees and other joints, can benefit from cycling. Other health benefits of regular cycling are an increase in muscle strength, flexibility and also a goodimmune system and strong bones.
Ashwariya Subramaniam is a cycling enthusiast. She feels fitness through cycling is also a great way to lift your spirits as the adrenaline rush is positively addictive. She cycles her way to work everyday and as a result of this used to experience pain in her knees. She found that this was a condition caused by the overuse of certain joints and a wrong cycling position.” I took rest and started correcting my cycling position. The saddle should not be too low as it may cause injuries,” she says.
Dr Madan Ballal, consultant orthopedic surgeon and sports injuries and arthroscopy specialist at Dayanand Sagar Hospital says, “Cycling could cause injuries and certain aftereffects.” According to him the following problems could arise:
- Muscle tightness: When one is cycling longer distances than usual, a tightness in a calf or hamstring can lead to a muscular tear.
- Lower back pain: Long hours of cycling in an aggressive riding position can cause back issues. This condition can worsen and lead to nerve entrapment and sciatica, which require medical attention.
- Achilles tendonitis: This is condition associated with injury and inflammation and is caused by overuse of joints and muscles.
- Saddle sores: This is a skin disorder caused by long hours in the saddle and due to the friction of bones against the seat.
Tips for cyclists:
Dr Deepak S, consultant orthopedic surgeon at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, offers the following tips that can help reduce the risk of muscle overuse.
- A balanced diet in the days preceding the sport is necessary for a balanced metabolism.
- A very light breakfast, preferably some cereals on the day of sport.
- Good hydration and avoiding coffee and alcohol helps
- Well-fitting footwear and clothes that don’t rub against the body.
- Adequate stretching before the race.
- Avoid antiperspirants during cycling.
- Consume lots of fluids, carbohydrates and proteins after the marathon.
Dr Gangadharan, director of Department of AYUSH, suggests home remedies such as rest and fomentation with salted hot water in case of cycling injuries. He says, “Dip a towel in the water and massage downwards, gently, thrice a day and before going to bed. Continue until the pain and swelling subsides. Once the pain and swelling come down, one can massage the limbs with warm gingelly oil. An elastic band around calf muscles and/or knee and ankles are a must. People with anemia should consume dry grapes, dates and food cooked in iron vessels.