Cycling tips for joint pain and arthrosis

Cycling tips for joint pain and arthrosis

Movement is the be-all and end-all in treating joint pain and arthrosis. One of the best activities is cycling. It can relieve movement pain and mobilize the joints. Before you start riding, however, you should set up your bike correctly, be pain-free, and choose the right cadence. The “Strong against pain” initiative gives tips on cycling as a sport that is easy on the joints – so that you can soon say: Walk in, joint pain out!

Cycling despite osteoarthritis

Regular cycling is healthy. The movements when cycling can strengthen the postural muscles and help produce more synovial fluid. This acts as a grease and typically allows the joint surfaces to slide smoothly against each other. Cycling is especially easy on your knees, as they don’t have to carry your total body weight.

“When you get on a bike, you should ensure correct posture and optimal pedalling frequency. Otherwise, a bike tour does more harm than good to the joints. And ride without pain!” says Prof. Dr. Josef Zacher, orthopedist and chairman of the “Strong against pain” initiative.


What should be considered when cycling? Eight tips!

  1. Adjusting the saddle height: If you are sitting on the saddle with your leg stretched out and you can reach the lower pedal with your heel, you are sitting correctly.
  2. Pedal correctly: The ideal contact point for the feet on the pedal is between the ball and the middle of the foot.
  3. Adjust handlebar height: Adjust the handlebar to be higher than the saddle. The upright posture puts the most minor strain on the musculoskeletal system.
  4. Choosing a gear: Your bike should have plenty of gear. Choose preferably small aisles!
  5. Cadence: The ideal cadence for cycling is 80-100 pedal revolutions per minute. The fast sequence of steps with moderate use of force prevents overloading of your joints and muscles.
  6. Wattage for the ergometer: Set the home trainer or the ergometer to a low power value between 25 and 50 watts. The basic rule for joint pain is low wattage and high pedalling frequency.
  7. Shifting with arthrosis of the hands: If you suffer from arthrosis of the fingers or hands, we recommend a grip gear shift, which is attached to the inner end of the grip as a wheel. A slight twist is enough to shift gears and save your fingers. Another – but not exactly cheap – alternative is the bottom bracket gearshift. This changes gears by tapping the crank arm with your heel.
  8. Ride pain-free: You should only cycle when you are pain-free. Therefore, talk to your doctor and ask about an effective and well-tolerated drug-based pain therapy that allows you to enjoy exercise.


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