Warminsterwobble – Swollen eyelids, toes and hands: Here’s what ultracycling does to your body, study conducted by Fiona Kolbinger and team reveals swelling to be common amongst ultracyclists.
A team of medical experts, including 2019 Transcontinental Race winner and Doctor of Medicine Fiona Kolbinger herself surveyed 919 ultracyclists and discovered the majority of them suffered with at least one potential kidney function-related symptom and over half suffered with swelling.
The study found that the majority of respondents experienced swelling on day three of a long-distance ride and swelling was more common amongst females and those taking pain killers.
Out of the female ultracyclists surveyed 78.4% experienced swelling whilst this dropped to 51.1% in the male ultracyclist cohort.
Swelling of the toes or feet was the most common swelling symptom felt by both groups.
A cyclist’s drinking strategy was also an important factor, with those who drank as much as they could more likely to experience swelling, and those who drank to thirst less likely.
Notably, electrolyte intake showed no correlation.
The number of ultracyclists surveyed is the largest cohort in scientific literature to date and the full results of the study can be found here.
Kolbinger, who is training to be a surgeon at University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden in Germany, became interested in studying swelling amongst ultracyclists after having experienced symptoms herself and find fellow ultracyclists talking about the same issue.
Some experienced swollen eyelids which were so bad they struggled to open their eyes on the third day of a multi-day endurance event.
‘When we discussed the impact of these rides on our bodies, others would describe swollen faces and eyes, but also in their hands and feet,’ explains Kolbinger.
‘For the survey, we asked people to think about one of the long-distance rides that they have done – how long the ride was, how many days it took and whether or not they experienced this symptom on the ride, if they did experience swelling, where did it happen?
‘We then asked for some information about the individual, including their age and some other demographic parameters.
‘The results confirmed that swelling was indeed a common thing.’
Initially, Kolbinger reached out to the ultracycling community for insights from kidney specialists but soon connected with Philipp Gauckler, Jana S. Kesenheimer, and Andreas Kronbichler who formed the team behind the survey.
The results of the study proved that further investigation was required and so the team designed further investigations, including a study conducted in September where 13 ultracyclists underwent several clinical examinations during an ultra-distance bike ride across the Alps to investigate body function decline.
The results of this study will be published in 2022.
The team have also released their next survey which explores mental health amongst cyclists. To participate, head here.
Image credits: James Robertson and Angus Sung