Ask a coach: 'Can gravel riding replace impact sports like running and weightlifting?'

Your bones need a certain amount of stress to stay healthy - could the impacts of gravel riding be sufficient?

Two male cyclists riding on a gravel path
(Image credit: Future)

Low bone mineral density is something that cyclists may be prone to. It’s a problem because low bone mineral density is associated with an increased risk of fracture. The reason cyclists may be particularly at risk is that cycling, unlike other sports such as running, is what we call a non-weight-bearing activity. There is no repeated shock as you hit the ground like in running or stress placed on the bone as in sports such as weightlifting. This means that the stimulus to increase bone density is just not the same in cycling as in other sports.

Could gravel riding be a solution? Cycling coach James Spragg gives us his take...

Image shows James Spragg.
James Spragg

Sports scientist and coach James Spragg is one of the experts who will be answering your questions in Cycling Weekly's ASK A CYCLING COACH series which comes out every Wednesday. Working both in research and applied settings, he currently runs Intercept Performance Consultancy

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James Spragg

James Spragg is a sports scientist and coach, working both in research and applied settings. When not working with athletes James can be found skiing, climbing, cycling or drinking coffee!

Alongside Dan Lorang and Peter Leo, James runs Intercept Performance Consultancy. Over the last 8 years in various roles, as coaches, performance consultants, performance managers, and sports scientists, Dan, James and Peter have played a role in helping athletes achieve more than 10 World Championship titles, several Olympics medals (including a Gold and Silver Medal in Tokyo 2020) and several Top 5 results in some of the biggest sporting events on the planet (Tour de France, Olympics, World and European Championships). Our single focus is on improving performance in all settings.