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Cycling Safety
By: IHI
06.19.14 Thursday
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Spring is upon us and summer is just around the corner!  Already, the bikes are out in full force.  When you think of cycling, you don’t normally think of keeping your upper extremities strong and safe.  We typically think of a biker with rock solid calf muscles, bulky thighs and a toned rear end.  Did you know that cycling has a great impact on your core and upper extremities? Let’s take a look at ways cycling impacts your upper body. Your core is key to making those legs and feet push through the pedaling.  However, your core, transmits that energy into your arms and shoulders.  Think about it…how easy is it to pedal uphill without using your arms to grip the handlebars?  Hmmm, not very easy, if you want to get to the top. You need your arms and shoulders to be just as strong as your lower extremities.   A weak upper extremity is going to leave you with less power, and open to possible injury due to poor form, weak muscles and overexertion. Additionally, you will fatigue much sooner if your upper body is out of shape. Here are some key points to consider before hopping on that bike for a ride into the sunset.
  1. Exercise your whole body.  Create a balance between the upper extremity strength and lower extremity strength.
  2. Work on your core muscles.  Your core is central to cycling.
  3. Remember, weak muscles are unstable muscles
  4. Exercise your shoulders as they support your entire body, especially your rotator cuff.
  5. Consider your neck.  Depending on the type of rider you are, your neck can be under a lot of strain and in a position you aren’t normally in.  Make sure you take breaks and adjust your position frequently.
  6. Make sure your bike is the right size for you.  If you aren’t sure, visit a bike shop and get measured.  This includes the seat and handle bar height.
  7. Warm up and stretch before heading off on a ride.
  8. Wrist injuries are also common among cyclists.  If you are serious about biking consider special gloves to protect your wrist.
  9. Guard against overuse of your joints and muscles.  Not allowing your body to rest could result in the compressing of nerves that will cause numbness and tingling.
  10. Finally, wear appropriate safety gear and that means a proper fitting helmet.
We don’t typically consider cycling to be an upper extremity sport but in reality it is and taking a little effort to strengthen the core and upper extremity muscles will result in a stronger and safer ride.
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