Did You See Those Legs?

Premier Health Now

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The bulging veins of Tour de France cyclist Paweł Poljański's legs recently made for an eye-popping, viral photo. This image grabbed the attention of Premier Health Now — and probably of most anyone used to pedaling far less grueling distances than the Tour’s 3,540 kilometers.

Health Now asked Jon Sulentic, DO, of Premier Orthopedics, to bring this picture into perspective for us.

To an elite cyclist, he tells us, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about the photo. An elite athlete like Poljański “has a body fat percentage in the less than 5 percent range. When you have that little body fat, there’s no soft tissue to hide your veins.”

But for those of us who suddenly discover bulging, swollen leg veins — and no extreme athletic training to explain it — Dr. Sulentic advises checking in with a health care provider. This could signal a condition such as varicose veins or a DVT (deep vein thrombosis — a blood clot) that may need medical intervention.

Cycling a Good Exercise Option

To reach and maintain their peak physical condition, Dr. Sulentic says, “elite cyclists are training 300 to 400 miles a week, riding three to six hours a day. The average person doesn’t have time or the ability to commit to that much exercise.”

Cycling, however, is good fitness option for the average person, he says. “Cycling is a great alternative to weight-bearing exercises.” It reduces stress on joints that walking or running may cause.

When taking up cycling, Dr. Sulentic recommends, “Build your endurance gradually to avoid overuse injuries. Start out with short rides and gradually work up to a one- to two-hour ride, and remember to have rest days for proper recovery.”

He also advises:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Wear bright colored clothing to make you more visible to motorists
  • If riding on streets and roads, ride with, and not against, traffic — and stay to the right and use bike lanes when provided
  • Be properly fitted for your bike, at a bike shop, so you’ll ride more efficiently and safely


It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.