Spring seems to be coming early in the Pacific Northwest with trees budding and flowers starting to bloom. This may get people inspired to pull their bikes out and start riding again. Whether you are a casual rider or a high-level racer, you can benefit from a bike fit. Bike fits help you ride as comfortable and efficient as possible, therefore making the ride more enjoyable!
Common areas of pain while biking include, but are not limited to: knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, foot pain, and/or numbness in the hands. If you have cycling goals for the summer, it is best to start getting out on your bike as early as possible to start building endurance and getting a feel for if your bike needs some adjustments.
Our bodies are always evolving and changing. If you have not been on your bike for several months or even years the bike may feel different as the flexibility, strength, and mobility of your body may be different than the last time you rode. Your bike fit should match your current abilities with flexibility, strength, endurance, and mobility. As you get back in “bike shape” the bike may gradually feel different again.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort on the bike, many parts of the bike can be adjusted to improve optimal fit and performance. If you bike with pedals that have cleats locking your shoe in, this is the first and most important thing that can be adjusted. Our feet are the only part that are in constant contact with the bike while working to propel us forward. If your feet are in a poor position, this can lead to foot pain, calf pain, knee pain all the way up through the rest of the body and limit efficiency of pedaling. If you have standard pedals, we can give you tips on foot placement on the pedal to improve efficiency and comfort.
Other bike components that may be adjusted include the saddle. The saddle height, position forward/back, and angle have a huge effect on the knees, low back, and pedaling efficiency. After adjusting the saddle, if it is still uncomfortable some riders will consider trying a different saddle that may have a different amount of padding, different size, or shape to improve comfort.
The next area that we look at with a bike fit is the stem angle and handle bars. The stem angle can be a game changer for some cyclists. Bikes with a more aggressive and aerodynamic fit may have a stem with a very small or no angle. The smaller the stem angle, the more flexibility in the hamstrings, mobility in the spine and hips, and strength throughout the gluteals and core one will need to ride comfortably in a more aerodynamic position. Increasing the stem angle can also take stress off the neck, shoulders, and hands. At Therapydia, we have a fully adjustable stem we can put on your bike to find the best angle and length for you. Other adjustments can be made with the handle bars and hoods, which can make minor changes without having to get a different stem.
Last, but not least, we can make recommendations for posture on the bike. This may include spine and pelvic posture. With a neutral spine and pelvic posture, the gluteal and core muscles can engage better for more power and pedaling efficiency. Head, neck, and shoulder position is also an important area to look at for comfort of those areas. Lastly, hand and wrist position can make a difference with pressure on the hands as well as nerve irritation and symptoms.
If you are interested in a bike fit, please give us a call or shoot us an email. We can talk about options with insurance paying for the fit. Happy riding!