Dealing with a chronic illness can go from being a small annoyance to completely debilitating. It can be tough for someone who used to be very active to have to deal with limitations. In some cases, they may have been a very successful professional cyclist who cannot compete anymore. In others, their chronic disease might not affect their cycling directly, but they will still have to account for it and make adjustments. Here are a few tips for cyclists dealing with a chronic illness.
Accept that Chronic Disease Can Show Symptoms at Different Times
Living with a chronic disease means that you don’t always have control over what your body can do. If you used to go on long rides all the time, you may have to accept that you don’t run the show anymore. If you’re dealing with extreme pain, arthritis, or you can barely get up because of chronic fatigue, you may have to cancel that 5-mile ride you had planned. That doesn’t mean that you have to stop completely, however. Maybe you can reduce the intensity or stay closer to home.
You also have to learn how to prepare your body for rides as well as help it recover. One of the best ways to do so is to perform stretches. If you’re looking for great stretches for cyclists, there’s an article by Velosurance we suggest you check out. It contains a list of the 10 best stretches for cyclists and how to perform them. These exercises will allow you to add elasticity to your tendons and muscles and warm them up which will result in fewer injuries and better performance.
Look for Other Ways to Build Self-Confidence
If you’ve been riding for a long time and it’s a part of your identity, it can be difficult to deal with a condition that severely affects your ability to perform. This is especially true for those who were competing. Dealing with the possibility that you will never be able to compete or ride a bike again can be difficult to bear.
In this case, you will need to look at other sources for sell-validation. We would suggest that you start looking at hobbies. These may or may not be related to cycling. For example, some people decide to turn to art. You also have some that work on things that can give them a sense of accomplishment, like crochet or gardening, for instance. These are all things that will allow you to have a distraction and take your mind away from your limitations.
Appreciate Cycling for What it Can Do
However, on the days that your body allows you to ride your bike, you have to be thankful and enjoy it to the fullest. Express gratitude every time you can get on a bike and try to make it special. Maybe you can beat your previous speed or distance record, or ride somewhere you always wished to.
Also, we would suggest that you speak with your doctor and see if cycling could help if you aren’t already. For instance, a lot of people who are suffering from chronic disease also have to take medication that has many associated side effects. Cycling could help reduce the impact and intensity of these effects.
Some medication will cause things like flare-ups, for instance, and cycling could help with that. Cycling can also help curb things like weight gain and mood swings which are very common with medication.
Look at Recumbent Bikes
If you have chronic joint pain issues, then we suggest you look into recumbent bikes. A lot of people may be hesitant to try them because of how they look, but it’s actually easier to keep your balance on these bikes than on average ones. These bikes were made to apply as little pressure on the body as possible. This is a great option if you can’t sit on a narrow saddle for long periods of time. Don’t expect these to be slow either. If you still have a need for speed, know that the world record for speed on a leg-powered vehicle was on a recumbent bike. A large part of it has to do with their aerodynamic profile. So, don’t let the looks fool you – these can pack a punch!
Have a Backup
Another thing you should do is have a flexible routine and a plan B in case you can’t go out for some reason. For instance, a turbo trainer could be a great alternative. Some people dealing with things such as chronic fatigue may have more difficulty keeping their balance on certain days. In this case, a nice stationary bike or a turbo trainer could become their best friend.
These are all tips that will make chronic illness easier to deal with for cyclists. Try as many techniques and alternatives as you can and make the changes needed to ensure your routine is sustainable.
*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.
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