If you are suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) in your hips or knees, exercising may be the least favorite thing of yours. Joint pain and stiffness can make it difficult for you to ride your bike.
You may be wondering “is bike riding good for arthritic knees”, to which my one-word answer would be “yes”.
For hips and knees with OA, however, movement is important. Your joints will compress and release, getting blood flowing, nutrients entering, and oxygen entering. The Journal of Rheumatology published a study that showed that cycling exercise training significantly reduced joints pain, stiffness, physical impairments and resulted in improved quality of life in middle-aged and older adults who had osteoarthritis (OA).
In this article, I am going to walk you through some good choices of bicycles for your bad knees and how to make the best out of them.
- Is Bike Riding Good for Arthritic Knees?
- What Type of Bike Is Best for Bad Knees?
- How to Choose a stationary Bike with Bad Knees?
- How to Choose an Outdoor Bike with Bad Knees?
- How Can I Ride My Bike with Bad Knees?
- Bottom Line
Is Bike Riding Good for Arthritic Knees?
According to Dr. Garry, cycling is one of the greatest activities for people with knee osteoarthritis because it helps strengthen their glutes and quadriceps. Plus, it’s usually one of the easier exercises to stick with for most people.
Dr. Brian Andonian, MD, esteemed rheumatologist and assistant professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, proffers that when you cycle, the compressive force on your knees is considerably less than when you walk.. “It tends to be more comfortable for people.”
As Dr. Garry explains, most people with knee osteoarthritis can cycle without any problems. The only exception is people with osteoarthritis of the kneecap – that is, thighbone-joint osteoarthritis, which affects the area near the kneecap (patella) and the thighbone (femur).
As a result of the knee osteoarthritis, cycling – which requires the knee to bend often – can be painful, says Dr. Garry. It’s usually best to walk so that their knees have a minimum amount of flexion,” he says.
Nevertheless, even people with osteoarthritis of the kneecap may still be able to cycle successfully if they position their seat as high as possible. This way, their foot will push the pedal around in a circle as opposed to their knee, says Dr. Garry. According to him, the higher the seat, the less knee bending is necessary.
What Type of Bike Is Best for Bad Knees?
For bad knees, you have both indoor and outdoor options to choose from. As long as you don’t have balance issues, both types can be extremely beneficial. Indoor cycling provides climatically controlled environments and a variable resistance level.”
In contrast, outdoor cycling offers a variety of scenery and a naturally variable resistance. Also, there are electric bikes for arthritis with ergonomic designs that can provide a great level of comfort while riding outside.
How to Choose a stationary Bike with Bad Knees?
The upright stationary bike is just like a traditional outdoor bike. The stationary platform consists of a seat, a pedal, and handles. Using an upright bike is like riding outdoors, which is a whole-body workout. Recumbent stationary bikes contain a big, comfortable seat. With these bikes, you sit in a more comfortable, reclining position, which is easier on your lower back and hips. Due to their lower height, recumbent bikes tend to be easier to get on and off, but they don’t work as beneficial as outdoor bikes. The reason is, you’re not getting the full range of motion of full bent and full straightening.
The best way to find the right indoor bike for you can be one of these two:
- Try out each bike at your gym to determine which one is most comfortable for you with a full range of motion.
- Consult your personal trainer for assistance in positioning the seat correctly.
How to Choose an Outdoor Bike with Bad Knees?
Outdoor bikes are the best for training your legs and muscles to get you the best benefits from a full range of motion. The first thing you should do is fit your bike. It is important to ensure your bike is fitted correctly by a local shop. You can also ask a professional for suggestions to suit your condition. When you have knee pain, you might find your seat in an elevated position more comfortable. When you have pain in your upper body or back, a hybrid bike with high handlebars might provide a better solution.
You may be able to alleviate pain by sitting more upright. There is also the option of an outdoor recumbent bike. With a professional bike fitting, your hips and knees will be seated optimally for your range of motion.
How Can I Ride My Bike with Bad Knees?
It is always a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Make sure you work within your joints’ current limitations. You can consult your doctor or physical therapist to determine if cycling is safe and how you can incorporate it into a workout program that will provide the maximum benefits without exacerbating joint pain. Here are some tips to help you protect your joints:
Warm-up your entire body and joints by moving them gently at first. Prior to doing aerobic exercise, you might kick off with range-of-motion exercises lasting for five to 10 minutes.
Get the right gear
Make sure you always wear a bike helmet while riding outdoors, along with simple eye protection (such as sunglasses) and bright-colored clothing. You might also want to consider biking gloves to protect your hands from vibration or injuries. Before heading out, plan your route. Cycling on dedicated trails separates you from traffic.
Start with a short ride
Start with 5 or 10 minutes at low resistance. As you progress, gradually rev up your ride’s length and intensity. Increase the amount of moderately intense aerobic exercise you do each week until it reaches 150 minutes every week (five 30-minute sessions each week). It might be better to split those 10 minutes up into smaller chunks if that’s easier on your joints. The moderate-intensity zone should allow for a reasonable amount of conversation with your partner, but you will be breathing faster.
Stop if Anything Hurts
Listen to your body. When your joints start to hurt, take a break or change gears to reduce the resistance, for example. A sudden change in intensity can lead to stress on the patellofemoral joint [where your kneecap conjoins your thigh-bone] and cause knee inflammation.
Don’t be afraid to walk up a hill you overestimated. In case you feel new joint pain, stop riding. Consult your doctor regarding what pain is usual and when it may indicate something more concerning.
Stretch every day
Even if you have RA flare-ups or OA pain, you should remain active. Some simple stretching will alleviate the pain to en extent and help you become more active in your daily activities instead of becoming stiff.
Cycling is easy and can easily be incorporated into a person’s daily routine, to both ease life and to stay fit, even with bad knees. There are numerous benefits associated with this activity, including protection against serious conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, and depression. I hope this piece was helpful to help you understand how is bike riding good for arthritic knees.
Thus, cycling may be beneficial for your knees if it is done correctly. It is important, however, to speak with your doctor prior to starting an exercise regime, whether it is bicycling or any other exercise. Good luck with your passion for cycling.