Cycling is a great way to get some exercise and soak in the beautiful summer weather. And although it’s often referred to as a low impact sport, you can still run the risk of enduring an injury if you do too much too fast. Here are some things to remember to help you stay healthy while biking this summer:
Ease into it
As with any sport, you shouldn’t jump right into long, intense bike rides immediately. If you’re just getting started with the sport or if you’re coming back from a hiatus, you’ll need to slowly increase the distance and difficulty of your rides. This will help you to avoid putting too much stress on your body too quickly.
And speaking of injuries, cycling is actually a great sport to get into if you’re recovering from one—especially a knee injury. Cycling is very low impact, meaning that it’s not too demanding on your joints and muscles, so it’s a great way to get exercise and stay fit while still allowing your body to heal.
Whether you’re headed out on a long distance bike ride or simply making the commute to work, it’s a good idea to stretch your muscles out before you hop on your bike. When you’re cycling, you’re putting your muscles and joints through repetitive motion for the duration for your ride, so, although cycling is a low impact sport, it does tend to stress the same muscles and joints over and over again.
When stretching your muscles for a bike ride, you’ll want to focus on the areas that you’ll be using during the ride—quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, and gluts. Most experts recommend dynamic stretches before cycling. Dynamic stretches are those that involve movement, as opposed to ones that you stretch and hold for a certain count. Dynamic stretches are recommended for cyclists because they’re most effective in warming your muscles and joints up and getting them primed for the movement you’ll experience while you’re riding.
It’s easy to get into a groove while cycling and forget to take the time to drink water, but it’s imperative that you do so—especially during the summer. The hot weather will dehydrate you faster than normal, and, if you’re biking on pavement or another surface that absorbs or reflects heat, the temperature you’re enduring can be particularly brutal. Dehydration can lead to a number of issues, like cramping, dizziness, and nausea.
One handy way to make sure you ingest enough fluids is to invest in a hydration pack equipped with a hose and nozzle for you to drink out of. These will provide you with an easy way to drink water without having to retrieve a water bottle from the holder on your bike.