Re: Cycling with arthritis
Originally Posted by e999sam
Hello everyone I’ve been hanging around this forum for a few weeks now. I started cycling again after a 15 year break after discovering I had osteo arthritis in my knee and been advised by my doctor to loose weight and exercise. Cycling was one of the recommended exercises.
So far I’ve lost 10 Kilos and I’m up to about 150 miles a week. The only problem now I’m getting fitter is that I’m worried about pushing it to hard.
Does anyone out there have any experience of arthritis and know what level it’s possible to ride at ?
I treat persons with osteoarthritis of the knee every day and am an avid cyclist. First of all, where is the OA, in the patellofemoral joint (under the kneecap) or in the menisci? If you do not know, ask your doctor again. Second, how severe is the arthritis, and is your doctor basing that degree of severity on an x-ray, MRI, physical examination, or your level of pain? What orthopedic tests did your doctor do? These answers can be found in your medical record, which you have easy access to (say "HIPAA" to your doctor's secretary and she'll hop to). You haven't given us enough information to adequately answer your good question.
Not knowing more, I will tell you that just because you see osteoarthritis on an x-ray doesn't mean it has ANYTHING to do with your pain. Also, it is possible to ride at any level with OA of the knee if there is no pain. That has more to do with your ability as a cyclist than anything.
I'd like to see you perform a squat. I'd like to know more about the biomechanics of your knees, and your lower extremities in general. Do you pronate, do your knees cave in (genu valgus or knock-knees), do your feet turn out, does your back overextend (overarch)--when you squat? Are you a knee squatter? Do you engage the hips when you squat? Do you have strong glutes? Flexible hamstrings, calves? Do you have weak hip abductors? A strong set of VMO's? If I had answers to these questions I could design a cross-training program for you as a cyclist to help prevent pain from the arthritits, if there is any, and prevent further wear-and-tear.
If you want to lose fat, then you have to go anaerobic. If you're ready for interval training, do some and build up gradually. Be careful if you haven't interval trained on a bike before. Go slowly. Weightlift at least once a week. No pain! Also, grow an ass. You have to have an ass to be an athlete. If you can't grow one, they can add one surgically now (it's called an addanasstomy).
Right, kidding on that last one, except for the growing an ass part.
Let pain be your guide. Periodize your training (training = stress + rest). Get a proper bike fit if you haven't already (can't stress that enough). Gradually increase either intensity, frequency or duration of your training, one at a time, no more than 5-10% per week. Read Joe Friel's book The Cyclist's Training Bible
. And stop focusing on what you fear the future might hold, but instead on how you feel and that exercise on the bike is the best thing you can do for an osteoarthritic knee. Positive outlook, please.
Now... shut up and ride.