The hidden health risk of being a physically active cyclist

Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a blood clot located in a deep vein in the body, which commonly forms in the legs. When this condition is not treated in time it can worsen and generate a pulmonary embolism: an unexpected block of a pulmonary artery.

Those who are at risk for deep vein thrombosis are people who sit for a long time, even some athletes who actively train cycling. However, there are certain medications and disorders that can increase your risk as well.

Know what to do to avoid and how to recognize a deep vein thrombosis without this implying giving up your cycling training, and in this way taking care of your health.

Síntomas de la trombosis venosa profunda

What are the risk factors for DVT?

1. Genetics

About 5-8% of the population is born with a predisposition to blood clotting disorders. However, this does not mean that you will have a DVT or pulmonary embolism, unless it is triggered by another risk factor.

2. Slow blood flow

Research shows that there are people who sit for long hours, for example at the desk, which hinders adequate blood circulation.

Los ciclistas tienen riesgo de padecer una trombosis venosa profunda

3. Hormones

Estrogen through birth control and hormone replacement therapy in women can increase the ability of the blood to clot, although having DVT is not just a gender issue.

4. Injuries

Damage to a vein caused by bone fractures and severe muscle injuries increases the risk. Something that you should keep in mind if a serious accident occurs.

¿Cómo reconocer una trombosis venosa profunda?

What are the symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis?

Sometimes cyclists can experience pain, making it easier to ignore a small persistent pain. However, if it exists, you should not ignore it, especially if it has risk factors for DVT . Symptoms may include the following and should be checked by a doctor:

  • Swelling.
  • Leg pain, similar to a cramp.
  • Sensitivity.
  • Redness of the skin.

Also be aware of the signs of a pulmonary embolism, which can occur independent of DVT symptoms. These include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Chest pain or discomfort, usually worse with deep breathing.
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
Síntomas de una trombosis venosa profunda

Prevention of deep vein thrombosis in cycling

Although sudden calf pain and shortness of breath are possible, the true risk of having DVT and pulmonary embolism is still relatively low, with an estimated annual incidence of approximately 0.1% in the general population. However, an incident can cause long-term complications, such as swelling and pain in the affected limb, and a pulmonary embolism can be fatal. Therefore, it is necessary to know how to reduce the risk, and what to do if symptoms appear.

Find out how to prevent a deep vein thrombosis by cycling .

Riesgo de padecer una trombosis si practicas ciclismo

1. Wear compression socks

Compression socks can help prevent DVT by putting gentle pressure on the foot, ankle, and calf that promotes circulation and prevents swelling. To do this, wear a pair of socks during long workouts, and especially after a race or big event where you may be at great risk of dehydration.

We leave you the best offers of compression socks for cyclists

2 Move your muscles

Get up and move more often, at least every two hours, whether you’re running a long workout or you’re in the office. While sitting, exercise your calf muscles.

3. Stay hydrated

Travel with a bottle of water or your favorite hydration drink, so you can stay hydrated during your workout. Also, be sure to rehydrate after races and events.

¿Qué hacer para evitar la TVP en ciclistas?

4. Reconsider your contraception

If you are using combined oral contraceptive pills, consider switching to a progestin-only mini pill. Estrogen increases clotting factors, particularly the synthetic estrogen in oral contraceptives as it triples the risk of DVT.

5. Take a baby aspirin

If you are training intensely or are going to start a bicycle race or event soon, it is recommended to take a baby aspirin as an anticoagulant due to the low dose (81 milligrams), and do it five days before training.

This is particularly important for women during their highest hormonal phase, or if they are taking oral contraceptives that contain estrogens.

Factores de riesgo de la trombosis venosa pulmonar


  • Yeager, S. Deep Vein Thrombosis: A Hidden Risk of Being a Healthy, Active Cyclist. For Bicycling [Revised January 2018]