Pedaling through the pandemic

With the recommendations to still stay socially distant during COVID-19, cycling remains an ideal activity to get outside and stay healthy. Moderate to brisk activity of 30 – 60 minutes can help your immune system and improve your over strength and cardiovascular health. Whether you are racing in the virtual 2020 PNC Tour de Lou, trekking through the Parklands or taking a family ride around your neighborhood, preparation is still needed.

In general, cycling is much less stressful on joints than alternate activities such as running, walking or tennis. In addition to being great exercise for your heart and lungs, cycling is an excellent core strengthening activity due to the balance demanded by riding.

Before starting any new fitness activity, it is important to consider any physical limitations or concerns you may have and consult your physician. Dynamic stretching before riding can be helpful to decrease the risk of injury. Stretching after riding can also help fend off nagging soreness and injuries.

While many enjoy riding in groups, even with social distancing measures, it is best to only bike with those in your family. If you are riding solo, make sure to share your ride plan with a friend including your departure, route and expected return.

Face coverings are recommended, as can help cut down on droplets being spread to others as you pass. A buff or moisture-wicking face covering is sufficient, but still maintain a six-foot distance from others whenever possible.

Considerations to keep you safe and make your ride more comfortable and enjoyable include:

  • Be sure your bike is fitted properly – professionals are a good resource to be sure the seat is high enough, handlebars are positioned properly
  • Stay hydrated – this can be difficult when wearing a mask, but be sure you plan for this by allowing rest breaks in safe areas to drink
  • Cycling gloves and proper grips on handlebars may help reduce hand pain and soreness especially for new riders
  • Padded cycling shorts can reduce pain and soreness
  • Eyewear is important to protect from the sun as well as bugs and road hazards

Preparedness for potential break downs is more important now than ever as some bike shops may have shortened hours due to COVID-19 guidelines or business needs. Make sure your toolkit is properly stocked to handle any roadside repair that might come up, and bring plenty of water and snacks.

Consult a physical therapist or physician if you have any discomfort to avoid something small turning into larger issues and injuries. UofL Health – Sports Medicine is easily accessible by calling 502-63-SPORT (502-637-7678). Telehealth appointments are also available.

If you experience a minor injury after hours, the UofL Health – Sports Medicine Urgent Care is here to help. Located at UofL Health – Medical Center Northeast. For more information call 502-588-6000 or visit uoflphysicians.com/service-specialty/sports-medicine/.

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About Jon Holland, PT, OCS

Jon graduated from the University of Louisville Physical Therapy program and has 20 years experience in the field. He is board certified in orthopedic physical therapy. Jon works with a variety of orthopedic and sports injuries in the clinic and with University of Louisville athletics. He has special interest and training in foot/ankle biomechanics, orthotic evaluation/fabrication, running injuries, and functional movement screening. Jon is certified in dry needling.

All posts by Jon Holland, PT, OCS