- Bruises, cuts, and scrapes are among the most prevalent negative effects of cycling.
- Sunburn, dehydration, low blood sugar, blisters, and sores are also possible.
- Cycling can lead to sexual dysfunction and permanent loss of sensation for men.
A low-impact workout, a heart-friendly cardiovascular exercise, the ultimate stress reliever, and the positive physical, mental, and emotional side effects of cycling are many. From fat loss to gaining new, health-conscious friends to hit the road with, it’s a hobby we rarely associate with dangers, not counting the damage done to our pockets, particularly when purchasing or building a lovely machine.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that cycling has no known harmful effects. Using a bicycle requires an awareness of many real-life adverse consequences. Like in the case of any sport or fun activity we engage in regularly, cycling requires a conscious effort from the hobby user, the daily commuter, or the sportsman -and woman- to be educated about the possible dangers and minimize or avoid them entirely.
When examining the hazards of cycling, we have to think of various physical injuries or disorders, either due to careless planning, accidents, or the overuse of muscles and joints involved in an exercise that mainly gives a thorough workout to the lower body. Most people think that the only possible adverse effect of cycling is a viable sexual dysfunction. But that is only a tiny part of the potential problems.
Typically, we can view these problems as short- or long-term adverse effects of cycling, many of which cyclists might not be well-prepared for.
Short-Term Hazards of Cycling
Some of the more notable short-term health problems associated with cycling are:
Bruises, Cuts, and Scrapes
If you are even a semi-serious cyclist, it’s likely that sooner or later, you’ll experience road rash in some shape or form, like bruises, cuts, or scrapes. While most of these injuries are superficial, some could require prompt medical treatment, stitches, or even surgeries.
For minor incidents, Matt Allyn, author of bicycling.com, the world’s leading cyclist magazine, suggests using clean drinking water, antibiotic ointment, and non-adhesive gauze – all of which should be part of your cycling first aid kit in the first place.
Wash the wound with clean water right away to clean away debris. Apply a generous amount of antibiotic cream, then lightly dress the wound. Once a scab begins to form, allow the injury to air as much as possible to speed up its healing. Avoid permanent scarring by frequently moisturizing the area even after the scab falls off, and don’t forget to use sunscreen – your new skin will be extra sensitive!
Speaking of sunburn, whether cycling in the sun or on a cloudy day, you will be exposed to some degree of UV radiation. It can be minimized by riding your bike in the morning or wearing clothing with high UPF -Ultraviolet Protecting Factor- such as cotton, lycra, darker colors, and more form-fitting styles, but remember to add a high-factor sunscreen to your list of
Apply it half an hour before heading out, and make sure you re-use it frequently, particularly in skin areas that are more likely to be exposed to the hot rays of the sun while cycling, like the back of your neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and face.
Don’t underestimate sweating and losing fluids after a long session in the heat. A research study supported by the University of Athens, Greece, warns. In essence, even mild dehydration can decrease your physical energy, which could worsen the overall strain on your body, muscles, and heart. Remember to rehydrate frequently on the road!
Related: Best Water Bottles for Cycling
Low Blood Sugar
Most cyclists are familiar with sudden dizziness, weakness, or shakiness, suggesting that their blood sugar has dropped dangerously low. Hypoglycemia is common during intense cardio exercise, which could lead to fainting, accidents (What Do I Do if I Was Hit by a Car? ), and chronic health problems.
Whenever possible, take a snack with healthy carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, or energy gel; your health and cycling performance depend on it!
Pressure, Blisters, and Sores
The longer the bike ride, the more likely you will experience pressure and saddle sores since much of your body weight is unevenly distributed, putting severe weight on your pelvic area. A well-fitted bike and comfortable seat can significantly reduce this risk, while silicone-padded underwear offers protection from sores and chafing.
Read more: How To Wear Shoes with Blisters
Watch the video below, courtesy of the Global Cycling Network, to understand what to pay attention to when selecting the right pair!
Long-Term Negative Effects of Cycling
Chronic and long-standing problems are, sadly, frequent among cyclists. Here are the most common health issues to be aware of:
Accidents, Fractures, and Permanent Injuries
Statistics are staggering – cycling is a dangerous business. While it is difficult to predict the outcome of an accident, individual bones, such as arms, shoulders, collar bones, femur, or pelvis, are more likely to break than others, leading to permanent injuries, disabilities, concussion, or even death. Even professional cyclists fall.
To prevent these, employ all safety measures possible: wear protective gear, including a helmet; follow all traffic laws and signs, be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions; scan the environment for potential dangers, such as potholes or downed trees, and remember your size compared to other moving vehicles.
As Molly Hurford of bicycling.com suggests, always be prepared by mitigating as many risk factors as possible and immediately call for help if an accident occurs.
Weakened Upper-Body Muscles
With cycling, your lower body may gain a decent amount of strength, but it is crucial to pay attention to the core and the upper body. As Robert Hicks from Cycling Weekly explains, your internal organs experience tremendous pressure during a long cycling trip and an unhealthy, hunched-over position of your upper back. If you neglect to strength-train these areas, it could lead to musculoskeletal problems, pain, and damage.
To mitigate this adverse effect, don’t forget about your arms, back, and abdominals.
Bad posture, knee pain, sensitive back, wrists, ankles, and loss of the range of motion in the pelvis are all likely chronic side effects of cycling. Make sure you use an appropriately sized bicycle to distribute your weight better.
Never skip stretching before and after cycling, and support your joint health with minerals and supplements, such as glucosamine or omega-3 fatty acids. Give yourself time for recovery if you are in pain; you’ll hit the road sooner if you allow your body plenty of rest and recovery.
Prolonged cycling sessions put the pelvis under severe pressure, especially the perineal areas, causing tingling and numbing of the genital regions where crucial nerves and arteries are found. Current scientific findings, as mentioned by Harvey B. Simon, M.D. support that, especially for men, cycling can lead to sexual dysfunction and permanent loss of sensation.
The solution? Switch to a wider and padded seat instead of using a narrow, racer-type, use silicone-padded underwear, and stop if you’re experiencing neurological sensations in your pelvic areas.
While many side effects of cycling are considered harmful, don’t ditch this fabulous hobby and sport out of fear of physical injuries or complications! With the proper precautions taken, you can minimize all the above potential dangers of cycling while enjoying its positive effects indefinitely.
So my advice here is to buy a good and reliable road bike and hit the road. You will never again think of the negative effects of cycling.