When patients visit our chiropractor in Ealing and ask which type of exercise they should try, the answer is often cycling. It is a low impact from of exercise that strengthens important muscle groups, improves balance and provides a massive boost to cardiovascular fitness.
However, before we recommend cycling to our patients, we always share several essential safety tips. In this post, our Ealing chiropractor at The Spine & Joint Centre shares those tips to help you remain safe while riding.
Important Cycling Safety Tips From Our Ealing Chiropractor
#1 – Always Stretch Before Riding
Although cycling is a low impact activity, it is still important to stretch before getting on the bike. Stretching helps to counteract any imbalanced musculature, loosens the joints and gets blood flowing to important muscles. It also stretches tendons and ligaments which are often used while riding.
Interestingly, there are several yoga poses which work very well as riding stretches. Downward Dog, for example, does a wonderful job of stretching the Achilles tendon, calve muscles and lower back. This useful article from Bicycling.com shares some excellent stretches.
#2 – Warm Up And Cool Down
Warming up is particularly important if you intend to ride at a high intensity or for a long time. To warm up, when you first jump on the bike ride at a leisurely pace for at least the first 15 minutes. This will give your joints and muscles some time to loosen up, which reduces the risk of injury. If you are only riding a short distance you won’t have the time needed to warm up, so avoid riding at a high intensity.
If you have just completed a tough workout session, spend at least 5 minutes spinning your legs with low resistance to cool down. This will bring your body back to its pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure levels.
#3 – Have A Bike Fit Performed
A bike fit involves changing the setup of a bike so it is ideal for your body’s proportions. A bike setup can help you remain comfortable on the bike during long rides and greatly reduces the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
#4 – Always Be Mindful Of Your Posture
The way you sit on the bike can dramatically impact your safety and comfort. Try to maintain a neutral spine position as much as possible, bending at the waist rather than the lower back. Your upper body should be relaxed as you ride.
Keep your knees directly in line with the pedals, so you don’t place excessive strain on any muscles, ligaments or tendons. If you require any more advice on bike riding posture, mention it the next time you visit our chiropractic clinic.
#5 – Use The Appropriate Safety Equipment
If you are riding on a roadway or at high speed you should always wear a helmet. If you are unsure about your skills on a bike, you should wear one even when riding in safe environments at slow speeds. Other safety items to use include lights, a bell, reflective bike strips, cycling gloves and bright clothing.
#6 – Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Many bike riders visit our chiropractic clinic each year to receive treatment for crash injuries. In most cases, the crash was caused by someone else. To avoid these kinds of crashes, always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Be particularly cautious about inattentive pedestrians, children, animals and distracted drivers.
#7 – Choose Safe Cycling Routes
Before you go on a ride, spend some time on Google maps planning your route. This will help you avoid heavily trafficked areas and low-quality roads. It will also help you make the most of your time on the bike, as you can plan a route that includes scenic areas.
#8 – Don’t Overdo It
If you haven’t ridden for a while, you will be amazed by how good it feels. There is a real sense of freedom and exhilaration gained from riding. However, just be aware that you may need to ease into your new exercise program, particularly if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle for a long time. Overdoing it may result in a repetitive strain injury that forces you to seek out chiropractic care.