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Is Cycling Good for Arthritic Knees?

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Treating arthritis takes effort. Beyond helpful vitamins and supplements, exercise can help ease the pain associated with your arthritis. For those physically capable, a great exercise for arthritis is bicycling. Bicycling can be one component of a healthy exercise routine, providing a boost to flexibility and stamina without causing stress to your already sensitive joints.

If you struggle with arthritic knees, bicycling can absolutely help – if done properly. 

We’ve curated some tips and guidance to help you capitalize on this amazing exercise while reducing the impact on your knees and other joints.

The low impact nature of cycling will ease the strain on your knees and other joints.

Despite the repetitive motion involved, riding a bicycle avoids the consistent impact of running and the strain of lifting weights. With a proper stretching routine, bicycling can help arthritis patients by moving knees and other joints in a more relaxed, low-pressure environment.

When cycling, you’ll notice that your muscles and joints will become more accustomed to the activity over time. As opposed to running, which can increase osteoarthritis in the knees for those already prone to the condition, bicycling isn’t constantly compacting the joins — rather, it’s stretching them out.

Before taking to the ride, be sure to stretch well to ensure your joints and muscles are ready to move! These yoga poses for arthritis can also help you prepare for cycling.

Bike modifications and e-bikes have been revolutionary for arthritis patients.

Many arthritis patients aren’t comfortable riding a normal bicycle. Fortunately, a typical setup is far from the only bike available. One popular option is recumbent bikes, which allow the rider to sit in a reclined position with a firm seat-back, easing back pain and strain on the middle part of the body.

Another option is arm-powered bicycles. These are ideal for riders with extreme arthritis pain in their legs. You can also look for bicycles customized specifically for riders with arthritis. On the market these days are bikes with automatic shifters built into the pedals so that you aren’t shifting with tender wrists. Another option for easing the workload on the wrist are automatic brakes.

E-bikes — bicycles that have an electric motor built in to provide support with propulsion — have been nothing short of revolutionary for arthritis patients. Joint pain and inflammation tend to make pedaling up a steep hill or through a winding, shifting or road system a tall order.

E-bikes ease the burden on your legs with the extra -get-up-and-go power, but also make the ride easier on the arms because it’s easier to maintain a consistent speed throughout the ride, minimizing the constant need to speed up and then brake.

Start slow and increase length and frequency of bike rides over time.

As with other exercises for arthritis, you don’t want to do too much too soon. Start with a quick ride around the block or through your neighborhood, acclimatizing yourself to the feeling of pedaling and balance. Start with 1-2 rides per week, as your body allows.

Start on flat, paved paths instead of steep inclines or dirt trails. By riding on a smooth paved road you are avoiding bumps and rocks that might strain your joints and throw you off-balance.

After you’ve done this a few times, slowly begin to increase the length and frequency of your bike rides. Maybe you can ride to a specific destination such as a coffee shop or cafe to rest for a bit, and then back to your starting point.

Be careful when mounting and dismounting your bicycle.

When it already feels as though your joints are screaming at you, the thought of twisting your body onto a bicycle might sound like too much to ask for.

A bike that is too tall can cause strain and even injury when trying to mount and ride. Be sure that the bike isn’t too big for you. Check out this handy bike sizing chart from Bicycle Guider before buying or renting a bike, to make sure it’s fit to your body size.

Next, make sure the bike has a kickstand. While you don’t want to put your full body weight onto the kickstand, a kickstand ensures you won’t have to lean all the way over to pick up or set down your bike when parking it.

Lastly, have a professional bike mechanic fit your bike to you, and tune it to your specific needs. The mechanic should be able to offer advice not only on the bike, but on nearby roads and trails that might be a good fit for you.

Try an omega-3 supplement to reduce inflammation and promote joint health.

Omega-3 supplements like fish oil or green-lipped mussel oil can provide amazing benefits for arthritis sufferers by reducing inflammation and joint pain. We’re proud to offer GLX3 – an all-natural, highly concentrated omega-3 supplement that features a rare Omega-3 called ETA which is shown to inhibit pain caused by chronic inflammation.  GLX3 is made of New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels and also contains EPA, DHA and 30 other Fatty Acids.

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