By now, all of you should understand that exercise is an important ingredient to handling arthritis. And of course, some of you are much more active with your approach to
exercise including some who ride bicycles. Although this is not everyone's "cup of tea" many of you do ride.
Pain in the Knees
For those of you that do ride bikes, the most common complaint is that you sometimes experience pain in your knees or lower back. Let's talk about those issues with some focus on "how" you approach riding.
It's all in the Angle(s)
Riding a bike can be fun and it provides excellent exercise. From an exercise standpoint, for those who suffer from arthritis, it can be a big plus. Riding a bike may also cause "negative" effects. A lot of problems you may experience are based on how you "position yourself" on the bike.
Getting lined up and adjusting to ride
If you are experiencing pain in your lower back or knees, most likely it is because of something as simple as how you have positioned your seat. From a "sitting" position with the pedal pointing straight downward, your knee should be at a slight angle of about 25-30 degrees forward. That should give you the correct position of the bicycle seat in terms of how high you have set it.
Next, place the pedals at a level position. In other words, place the pedals about even with each other when viewed from the side. (I.e., the pedals are now pointed toward the front and rear wheels about midline. Then, take a yardstick and place it at the front of your knee and down toward the ball of your foot. Here, we are not looking to adjust the seat for height but rather its forward and back position.
If the yardstick is leveled at the front of your knee and down to the "ball" of your foot, it is about perfect. If it is not, then you need to move the seat forward or back until it does.
My personal feeling is that riding is great exercise for someone with arthritis. However, that does not mean you are out to win any races. You just want to get the benefit of this aerobic exercise and at the same time, avoid injuries.
Dealing with pain if you ride
As mentioned, pain is most likely to occur in your knees or lower back. You reduce the odds of that happening if you have positioned the seat correctly. However, if you do have pain developing in your knees (a common complaint among riders) than the issue is "rest." Normally, this type of pain goes away within 10-14 days. Again, this pain most likely occurred because of the positioning of the seat. If you are experiencing lower back pain, the positioning of the seat is likely the culprit.
To reduce discomfort, I recommend using a high-quality liquid glucosamine which contains all-natural anti-inflammatory ingredients. It also helps to use a warm pad or compress on the affected areas three to four times a day usually for about 15-20 minutes at a time.
This is a favorite exercise program for me and I think it is really helpful to those who suffer from arthritis. If you do not have other "risk factors" for riding, it is great fun too. Just make certain that you get your bike set up correctly; don't overdo it; and, deal with pain issues with the regimen suggested. What this means is that there may be times when you will have to give it up to get the rest your body needs.
J.R. Rogers is the founder and President of Activex America, Inc. makers of Liquid Glucosamine Formula Syn-flex®