If your bike doesn't fit you properly, you may be pedalling your way to pain and injury instead of fun and fitness.
"Good bike fit promotes good posture with muscles and joints working in harmony. If this doesn't exist, riders will likely experience pain and be predisposed to injury," Erik Moen, a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), said in a prepared statement.
"A properly fitted bicycle should allow the rider to maintain common riding positions with an acceptable level of comfort and the greatest pedalling economy," Moen said.
Common bike fit errors
Common bike fit errors include a saddle that's too high or too low, a handlebar reach that's too long or short, and misalignment of pedals and cycling shoes.
Your saddle should be level. A forward-tilting saddle will cause your body to slide forward and place too much weight on your arms and back. A backward-tilting saddle will put added pressure on your lower back.
The proper location of your handlebars is determined by your height, strength, coordination, and functional goals. If your handlebars are too far forward, it will strain your back. Higher handlebars will force you to put more weight on the saddle.
You should be in top form too
Your physical condition is as important as proper bike fit.
"Good flexibility of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles is crucial because these muscles generate the majority of the pedalling force and must move through the pedal-stroke in an ideal 80-90 revolutions per minute," Moen said.
"Proper stretching, balance, and flexibility exercises help with coordination of cycling-related skills such as breaking and cornering," he said.
A few useful tips
Here are some cycling posture tips from the APTA:
- Your knees should be slightly bent when you're at the bottom of your pedal stroke. Your hips should not rock while you're pedalling.
- Change your hand position frequently for greater upper-body comfort.
- A higher pedalling speed and using easier gears will help you achieve better pedalling skills. Your cadence goal should be 80 to 90 revolutions per minute. Some cycle computers provide cadence information.
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