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by Sara Bresnick, PT

bicycle riding for health and exercise

As physical therapists, we use the bicycle with our clients for a multitude of injuries and diagnoses.  We use it as a tool for clients who have been injured through weight bearing/impact sport or exercise.  We also use it for deconditioned patients who need to lose weight through exercise, but whose joints can’t handle impact from weight bearing exercise.  The bicycle is a great rehab and exercise tool.

Quite often we treat patients who run, play soccer, or participate in many other impact sports.  For one reason or another, they are experiencing knee pain.  We find the bike to be a great tool as it strengthens muscles around the knee, increases blood flow to the joint, and also increases range of motion around the knee.  Additionally, the bicycle is great for general exercise and conditioning.

Another population that is greatly helped by cycling are those who are overweight and need to start exercising for weight loss.  We see these patients here as well.  These patients greatly benefit from the exercise bicycle to help them burn calories in a way that is gentle on their joints, the knees in particular.  Quite often this demographic starts with 10 min on the bike, then increases over time to 30 min to 1 hour.  Over the course of a few months, weight is lost and progression to the elliptical machine and walking can occur.  Ideally exercise becomes a part of the client’s lifestyle, weight stays off, and inc. health ensues.

It has become quite common to be watching sports on TV (football for instance) these days and see the athletes warming up or rehabbing on the bicycle on the sidelines.  Race car drivers are even hiring cycling coaches to help with their general endurance.

While cycling can be great for the knee joints and conditioning in general it is very important to make sure you are fit properly on the bicycle.  If you have any questions as to seat height or any other aspect of bike fit, be sure to ask someone who is in the know.

Stay fit, keep those joints happy, and pedal away!

Sara Bresnick is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine