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Biking With Arthritis: How To Reduce Joint Injuries

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Around 350 million people across the world suffer from arthritis and if you are one of these people, then you are familiar with the stiffness and joint pain.  Your rheumatologist may ask you to partake in exercise several times a week to help reduce some of your arthritis symptoms.  Exercise helps to increase muscle strength around weak joints and it also reduces your weight to keep stress off the joints.  The activity can also boost your energy since arthritis can make you feel tired.  Biking is a great form of exercise that you should consider; however, there are some things that you should do to make sure your joints are not injured in the process.

Purchase the Right Bicycle

If you want to make sure that your joints do not hurt after a bicycle ride, then you need to locate a bicycle that has the right features.  There are several different types of bikes that you can find that provide advantages to arthritic riders.

  • Cruiser bikes - These bicycles are made for leisurely riding, and they are built for comfort.  They feature a low seat and high handlebars.  Cruisers are also stable and easy to control if your hands are not as strong as they used to be.
  • Mountain bikes - Mountain bikes have wide tires with deep treads and knobs that help you grip the road and absorb shocks.  They also have suspension systems that provide a comfortable ride over bumpy or uneven terrain.
  • Recumbent Bikes - These bicycles feature reclined seats and high pedals that sit above your hips.  Recumbent bikes are considered quite comfortable and the seat offers back support and good weight distribution.  They are ideal if your arthritis causes significant back, hip, and neck pain.

Make sure to test out the bicycle you like before you decide to buy it.  If you want a cruiser or mountain bike, consider looking for a model that has y-shaped handlebars.  These bars tend to sit higher on the bicycle, and this allows you to sit with a straight back as you ride.  This helps to reduce the shoulder, neck, and upper back stress that is common when you lean over when riding.  A seat with a thick cushion is a good idea as well to reduce lower back stress, and a bike with a step-through frame is a good choice too.  These bicycles have an angled bar on top of the frame that makes it easier to get on the bicycle.

Prevent Falls

Another great way to make sure that you do not hurt your joints when riding a bicycle is to make sure that you prevent falls.  To keep your hands from slipping off the handlebars from sweat and becoming weak and painful from vibrations, wear a pair of bicycle gloves.  Find a pair that closes with velcro if your arthritic hands are not strong enough to use snaps, and look for products with gel or cushions across the palms of the hands.  This will help with vibration absorption.

To avoid vision issues and accidents, find some athletic sunglasses to wear.  The best sunglasses completely cover the eyes and offer both UVA and UVB protection.  Glasses with lenses that are green, brown, and gray are a good choice too, because other colors may keep you from seeing traffic lights properly. Mirrors added to your bike's handlebars are a good idea as well, so you can watch out for traffic without straining your neck.  Attach the mirror firmly to the left handlebar so you can see behind you when you ride with traffic.  If you are uncomfortable with the handlebar mirror, then think about buying a helmet or sunglasses mounted device instead.

Now that you know what features to look for in a bike, head over to a bike shop like Sarasota Cyclery Inc.