Cycling is a fantastic sport that benefits the mind and body. It is a low impact exercise so even if some of your limbs are not working as well as they once did, cycling is usually beneficial. That does not mean there are no dangers associated with riding a bike. While the most obvious danger to cyclists is cars on the road there are other issues to be wary of. It has been shown that riding a bike frequently can actually be bad for your health.
Cycling can have adverse effects on the health of both men and women. While that may be surprising, think about it. How many of us have had a sore bottom after riding the bike for too long? This happens because when we sit in normal situations we rest our weight on our pelvis. It is strong and designed to take it. Yet when we sit on a bicycle our weight is shifted to the area between our genitals and our bum, the perineum, and some time the genitals themselves.
In women, sitting on a bicycle can cause many different problems. Bladder infections are common among serious female cyclists as a bladder infection is more likely to occur when the urethra is irritated. Vaginitis is also more common due to increased yeast or bacteria coming in contact. Saddle sores are also a complaint that many female cyclists have. These are sores caused by the chafing of the saddle.
It can also have an impact on sex. The blood that reaches the labia and clitoris flow through the perineum area, these are compressed during cycling. It is quite common for women to feel numbness and pain that can last for up to a month. In one survey of serious cyclists, 60% of women reported feeling less sensation in their genitals after cycling.
Men face similar issues. Chafing is an issue as with women but the main issue for men is caused by increased pressure. Again, as with women, the blood supply to the penis flows over the area of the perineum. Cycling for too long increases compression and reduces blood flow to the area. A study revealed that of those who cycle more than 5 hours a day, 91% had experienced groin numbness. Furthermore, in one race it was noted that 13% of participants had experienced impotence as a result of cycling.
There have also been links between cycling and prostate cancer. Studies have shown that a serious cyclist is six times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than an average male. Interestingly there is no proven link between testicular cancer and cycling.
There are ways to help reduce the chances of getting these illnesses. Most of them lie in the saddle. Some companies now offer a noseless bike saddle that puts less pressure on the genitals and the perineum. It does take some getting used to as when we cycle we actually rely on that nose a lot for balance. So get ready to relearn a little about cycling. There are some special saddles designed specifically for women as well that can help protect certain areas. The easiest trick to use is to ensure the handlebars of your bike are higher than the saddle. This will take some of the pressure off your sensitive areas when you ride. Finally, you should wear bike shorts when riding as they offer extra padding. Try to wear these without an additional pair of underwear. When doing so ensure there is a strong focus on hygiene as it easy to get an infection if the material you are wearing is not clean.
For the average cyclist, most of these issues will never be a problem. However, if you are someone who is starting to fall in love with your bicycle and are really increasing the kilometers, it is an important area to focus on.