Better to run or ride a bike? The pros and cons of each discipline

Better to run or ride a bike? The pros and cons of each discipline

Many novice athletes or people who start the year with the purpose of improving their physical condition ask themselves which is the ideal sports activity for their characteristics and needs.

Bicycle or running: which mode is more suitable for me?

It is more than proven that physical exercise is good for mental and physical health. The burning question is rather which sport is best suited to our needs.

Once those sports that require a logistic deployment and a greater economic investment (skiing, paddle), the collective sports (basketball, football), which require other colleagues to meet to practice it, or the sports of high physical demand (tennis), the truth is that the range of possibilities of the new sportsman or woman is quite reduced. Thus, one of the most recurrent questions when it comes to starting a routine sport activity is: is it better for me to go cycling or running?

Before I give you my point of view we must analyze the basic pros and cons of each of these two activities, so that you understand my opinion.

Running Bicycle Calorie expenditure MajorMinor Joint injuries More riskLess risk Technique needed More technique neededLess technique needed

Although there are more factors, the most important ones are those described in this table, and are what I recommend you value carefully before making a decision.

But good, then: what’s the deal? Now comes the answer to this tedious question. Let’s go deeper into the specificities of each sport to know the advantages and disadvantages of practicing each of them.

Is it better to go running or cycling?

Depends . It depends on your objective, your joint and muscle health, your age, the intensity of the exercise, and so on. There is not a valid answer for all cases. What you should do is analyse your personal objectives and your previous preparation in order to be aware of which mode is most beneficial for you. For this company, I invite you to read on.

Personal goals: cycling or running ?

If we want to be a great racer we can’t get it using the bike. If what we want is to get in shape, the best thing to do is to go running, unless we are in pain or our health situation does not allow us to do so. In any of these cases, we must be careful and, if we see that the level of demand of running is too high, we can resort to another sport, such as cycling, which is a less aggressive discipline and whose practice is, in principle, more adaptable to the physical condition of each person.

On the other hand, if we suffer from joint pain or are of an advanced age, what I would most recommend is to use the bicycle until the ligaments, tendons and muscles adapt to the rhythm of exercise. Once this has been achieved, we should try to do a gentle run and increase the intensity according to how comfortable we feel. In any case, we should adapt the intensity of the exercise to our physical possibilities: you don’t want to make a big effort if you are not prepared because you could get injured.

However: if you choose the bike be careful and protect your head, elbows, knees and wrists, and be very careful not to fall. And, for your own sake, try not to ride on routes where there is a chance you could be hit by a car. Safety first.

As we have said, there are various factors that could lead us to one side or the other, we must always be coherent and have a minimum of logic. Common sense, in these cases, is what should determine the decision. If something generates discomfort or pain, we must avoid doing so until it stops hurting, primarily when the sensation of pain comes from the joints or the bones .

Muscle pain can be confused with D.O.M.S. (commonly called muscle aches ), especially in novice athletes or sedentary people, so we recommend that when faced with a temporary muscle pain, physical activity should not be changed or reduced. If this pain is persistent, the best option would be to switch to another activity that does not generate pain and consult the relevant specialist to rule out any possible micro-injury or pathology.

Possible problems with running

Now let’s name the different situations that can warn us of a possible ankle, knee or hip injury if you decide to run instead of the bike. Remember that running is more risky with your body than the bike, so it doesn’t hurt to know some of the dangers of running so that you can decide whether or not you are prepared to face them.

Incorrect or non-impact absorbing shoes

You should check that your shoes are suitable for the running activity, since bad shoes can lead to important injuries.

Terrain without shock absorption

Running in this type of soil causes lesions in the fibrocartilages (menisci). The best terrain for running is solid ground, because it absorbs much of the impact on the joints when you step on it. As far as possible, you should avoid stepping on hard ground such as asphalt or parquet.

Problems with joint stabilization

Running can cause problems in stabilizing the body due to joint or muscle problems in the background. You may notice that you do not have much balance, for example, when trying to rest on one leg. The possible solution to this problem is to perform proprioception exercises, which help the muscles and joints to strengthen and maintain your body’s balance on their own.

Muscle decompensation

You can notice this if the opposing muscles grow asymmetrically and aesthetic imbalances occur. In this case the best solution would be to carry out a programme of muscle toning in general, and a programme of stretching to seek compensation. Where there are usually problems is in the muscle psoas , which links the lower and upper body.

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