Cycling is a big part of our community. Whether you ride a mountain bike, road bike, or commute on a bike, there are several factors to consider for making cycling more enjoyable this summer.
Proper fit of your bicycle is important to consider in order to decrease tissue stress, injuries, and pain. The “Proper Fit” can mean many different things depending on your age, intent, flexibility, and type of cycling. For example, a forty-six year old man carrying groceries from the farmers’ market will need a very different fit than a seventeen year old girl competing in cyclocross.
If you are experiencing knee pain or would like to prevent the occurrence of knee pain while cycling, consider the following adjustable components of your bike’s fit:
- Seat height: Is the seat too high? Is the seat too low?
- Forward or backward placement of the seat.
- Proper cleat placement if using clip-in pedals.
Similar to avoiding knee pain while cycling, your bicycle’s fit correlates with upper body/neck pain and injuries. Consider the handle bar stem length on your bike, as it will affect your overall reach to the handle bars, and shoulder and neck positioning while riding.
Being comfortable is a major part of making and keeping cycling more enjoyable. Proper equipment greatly influences overall comfort while riding. Consider wearing shorts. They come in all different styles and can even be worn under your regular clothes. If you ride greater than 45 minutes on a regular basis, strongly consider cycling shoes. Sun glasses are another common piece of equipment that aid comfort while cycling. It is important that the frame of your sun glasses doesn’t restrict your vision or cause an unnatural position for your neck while looking forward.
Helmet! Always wear a helmet while cycling. Additionally, make sure you replace your helmet on a regular basis. Most manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every two years or after a crash.
One thing that you may want to consider when discussing bike safety is balance. Balance is extremely important to cycling. It is critical in controlling the direction of the bike. If your balance is compromised, it will lead to increased muscle tension, energy leaks, and will make you more susceptible to a crash. Balance is also needed so that you can look around for cars, other cyclists, and obstacles. You also rely on balance when reaching for water, an energy snack, fixing a zipper, or other en route adjustments.
For specifics on the proper bike fit for you, please contact me at Northern Rockies Physical Therapy at (406)543-0617 or visit your local bike shop.
Paul Thormahlen PT, ATC