“Bicycling can be a wonderful method to improve one’s overall health and fitness,” says Dr. Cordasco. It can provide an excellent cardiovascular workout without subjecting the lower extremity joints to excessive loads. You can burn several hundred calories per hour depending upon the level of intensity of the workout.
Drs. Cordasco and Moley have these tips for the beginner cyclist:
- Always wear a helmet; several studies have demonstrated that this is a critical factor in avoiding injuries or death in the event of an accident.
- Follow the posted rules of the road stopping at stop signs and lights. Use bike lanes whenever possible. Bike trails with no cars are the safest places to ride.
- If you are going to approach bicycling seriously, you should make sure that the bicycle fits you appropriately with respect to frame size, seat height, handlebar height etc. Having a bike that fits your frame will prevent overuse injuries to the lower extremities (particularly the knees), lower back and neck.
- If you ride a road bicycle with racing handlebars, don’t ride with your hands on the lower portion of the curved part of the handlebars (the racing or drop position) for long periods of time as you may develop a neck strain or cramps in the shoulders or arms. For general enjoyment cycling, it may be preferable to ride a mountain or commuter bike centered on comfort and less about design.
- Don’t pedal in a high gear (harder setting) for long periods of time as this can place more pressure on the knees and may lead to an overuse injury. A reasonable cadence (number of pedal revolutions) would be 70-90 revolutions per minute (rpm) for a beginning cyclist. This provides reasonable exercise without placing added stress on the knees, back and hips.
- After a long uphill ride, be sure to pedal on the downhill instead of coasting. This helps to clear the lactic acid that was building up in your muscles during the uphill component of the ride.
- Have fun!
Reviewed on April 26, 2018.
Dr. Frank Cordasco is an Orthopedic Surgeon in the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. The primary focus of Dr. Cordasco’s practice includes ACL and meniscus injury in the pediatric, adolescent, and adult athlete; shoulder instability; bicep tendon tears, rotator cuff and pectoralis tendon repairs, clavicle fracture surgery and AC joint separations. Dr. Cordasco’s research and education activities parallel and complement these clinical areas of expertise.
Dr. Peter Moley specializes in the non-operative treatment of hips, low backs, and general joint injuries through the use of selective injections and advanced physical therapy programs.