Recently, I crashed my road bike and sustained severe fractures of my pelvis and right hip joint. Some of the guys who witnessed the accident commented that I did not seem to have fallen hard enough to have suffered such bad injuries. As a medical doctor, I have been aware that there is an association between doing non-weight-bearing sport and the potential for developing osteoporosis (#). Given my passion for cycling over the last 30 of my 44years (to the exclusion of any other sport) and considering the ease with which my bones broke, I thought it wise to have my bone density (€) checked. Unfortunately, my suspicions were confirmed. The results showed that I have osteoporosis of my spine and osteopenia (¥) of my hips which is a common pattern in cyclists. Although I was aware of the association between non-weight-bearing sport and osteoporosis, it was not until I read the up-to-date medical research that I appreciated just how significant this problem really is. Cyclists have such a great risk of becoming osteoporotic that this ought to be common knowledge.
There are surprisingly few studies that examine the potential for osteoporosis in cyclists and all of them have been conducted quite recently. This may explain why there is such a lack of awareness of the problem, even amongst health care professionals. What follows is a summary of the available research with some salient points about bone physiology.