Get a Proper Bike Fit to Cycle with Confidence
Did you know Bike To Work Day is happening next Thursday? Whether this is your first biking or your hundredth, a proper bike fit assessment can help you prevent injury and improve performance. No more neck pain, lower back aches and hand numbness. Learn about the benefits of a bike fit and top things to look for when optimizing your bike to meet your biomechanics.
Benefits of a Proper Bike Fitting
- Lower back pain and knee pain are the most prevalent injuries with cycling. A comprehensive bike fitting will take into account your individual biomechanics to prevent injury and aid you inreaching your peak performance.
- Prevent Injury by establishing neutral positions that reduce stress on your body. This is especially important if you have recurring injuries.
- Improve performance by finding comfortable positioning that will allow you to exercise more effectively and build strength.
- Master your technique by making sure all of your body is working in sync for a more seamless ride.
- Experience a more enjoyable ride because you will have peace of mind, you will be comfortable and will start feeling improvements, which will help motivate you.
Mechanics of a Bike Fitting
Even with small changes in your bike fit, you can expect exponential changes biomechanically. There are multiple parts of a bike fit and depending on your pre-existing areas of pain, you can ask your physical therapist to hone in on those areas. Below are common pointers we give to cyclists of all levels who are looking to improve their cycling posture. Before making multiple changes, please talk to a professional to get their insight on how to better optimize your bike fit.
- Bend your elbows. Having bent elbows will help absorb shock through your upper extremities and reduce stress on your cervical spine.
- Maintain a neutral spine. This helps keep you from hyperextending your neck by trying to maintain an upward glaze. Without proper trunk alignment or thoracic spine extension riders often experience hyperextension injuries in the head and neck region from trying to maintain an upward gaze without proper upper back mobility.
- Find your handlebar sweetspot. Poor handlebar positioning may cause stress on your spine as you try to sustain a proper position. It may also result in hand pain or numbness due to your grip.
To keep a neutral pelvic alignment, don’t tilt your saddle downward. A downward tilted saddle may put unnecessary stress on your wrists. It may also impact your erector spinae, multifidus, obliques and quadratus lumborum if your muscles have poor endurance.
- Find your saddle sweetspot. Oftentimes riders change the angle of the saddle for comfort rather than actually assessing if you have the right saddle fit for your body type. Before changing the position of your saddle we recommend finding the right saddle fit first. When you ride your knees constantly maintain a semi-flexed or mid-range contraction, which can put stress on your hamstrings. When a saddle is placed too high often times this places the pelvis in a posterior tilt creating a biomechanical shortening of the hamstrings. This can lead to muscle strains or even numbness and tingling in your legs during long rides.
- Wear padded gloves and proper shoes. During long rides you may grip more tightly or apply more pressure with your feet while pedaling. Wearing the proper gear is just as important as your position on your bike to reduce stress and let you enjoy your ride.
Get a Bike Fit Today From Your Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are biomechanical experts and look at your movement from a holistic view. They will be able to analyze your bike fit and how you fit on your bike keeping in consideration any previous or recurring injuries you may have to get the most out of each ride. Our physical therapists will work with you one-on-one to make adjustments as needed to improve and build strength.