Article by John Miller
Professional Bike Fit Service
For information regarding our professional Bike Fit Physiotherapist for YOU and YOUR BIKE, please click this link: Bike Fit Brisbane
For all the fun and enjoyment of a good ride on your bike, cycling pain is a potential problem. While cycling is known for of cycling its fractures from nasty high speed falls, it is repetitive cycling injuries that cause most cyclists pain unnecessarily.
As a cyclist myself, I am personally aware of knee pain, back pain, hip pain, sciatica and neck pain from a poor bike setup and too many kilometres in the wrong position.
In this article, I hope to keep your cycling fun by discovering how to prevent common injuries impacting on your ride. Whether you are interested in road cycling, triathlons, mountain biking, velodrome cycling or just the commute to work, the cycling injury prevention principles are similar, but do vary depending on the the performance you want out of yourself and your bike.
Cycling - Power Phases
As you can see from the infographic above, cycling incorporates all of your major leg muscle groups at different phases. This can be wonderful for strengthening but overuse or compensation for a weak zone may cause an imbalance leading to cycling pain.
A cycling physiotherapist will be able to identify if you have any lack of motion, strength deficits and help you address these possible sources of injury.
Common Sources of Cycling Pain
While we are happy to provide you with general bike setup guidelines, we have observed that these guidelines will help some cyclists but not all.
We highly recommend a professional bike fit if you are suffering pain or discomfort while cycling of would seriously like to optimise your cycling efficiency.
More information: Bike Fit Brisbane
General Bike Set Up Guidelines
Riding Position Set Up
A comfortable and efficient riding position is vital. It is important that your bike is properly set-up and adjusted. If your bike is adjusted to suit your particular body size and shape you will then feel more relaxed and will be able to ride longer distances with less effort. The notes below are the most common settings that work.
- The ball of your foot should be centred over the pedal axle.
- Small feet and high cadence pedlars place the ball of your foot slightly behind centre.
- If you have clip-less pedals you can make this adjustment by clipping your shoes into the pedal and adjusting the cleat fixing bolts.
Set the saddle height the following way:
- Sit on the saddle with the crank arm perpendicular to the ground and heel (shoes on) on the top of the pedal.
- Your leg should be in the straight “locked” position.
- Allow for oversized shoe heels or extra thick soles.
- Your saddle top surface should be parallel with the road surface.
Saddle Front/Back Adjustment
- Sit on your bike in your normal riding position with the cranks in the 3 and 9 o’clock position.
- Your saddle is correctly positioned when your tibial tuberosity (the bump at the top of the shin bone) is 1cm behind the pedal axle.
- You may need a plumb line and a helper to make this adjustment and you may have to readjust saddle height if you move the saddle significantly.
Stem and Handlebars
- Correct stem height can be somewhere between level with the saddle height or as much as 6 cm below. The preferred range is 2.5 to 4.5 lower.
- Check to ensure that your knee just clears your elbow when seated on your bike with the cranks in the 3/9 o’clock position.
- To ensure good chest expansion and breathing your handlebars should be as wide as your shoulders.
- On a mountain or hybrid bike some riders may prefer a more upright riding position with a higher stem position.
- Extra wide flat-type mountain bike handlebars may give more stable control on unsealed roads but you may find them uncomfortable on long rides over sealed roads.
- Bar extensions and narrower handlebars will give you a greater variety of comfortable hand positions and also place your upper body in a slightly lower position to reduce your overall resistance to the wind.
- If the handlebars are too far away you will be very uncomfortable.
- Sit on your bike in your normal riding position and your arms should be at 90 degrees to your torso.
Adjusting to Your New Position
It takes time to settle in to the new position and you may still have to do some fine tuning. Overall you should feel much better when you ride and less strained when you arrive back home.
What if None of this Works?
If you can’t get comfortable after making these adjustments and riding for a while then it is possible that your bike is not the right size for you. Considering visiting a physiotherapist with a special interest in bike setup or a cycling store professional.
Common Treatments for Cycling Pain
Cycling Injury FAQs
Helpful Cycling Pain Related Products
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Last updated 19-Jan-2018 06:10 PM
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