How to Ergonomically Set Up Your Bike for a Proper Fit

June is Colorado Bike Month!

The weather is getting nicer outside where cyclists all alike, whether competitive or recreational, want to get on their bicycles and enjoy riding outdoors. When getting the bikes back out for use, a bike fit would be a great consideration when there has been an injury over the holiday season, weight gain, purchase of a new bike, or letting someone else borrow your ride. It is great to blow the dust off the bike, but we need to do the same for our bodies. No matter the reason for initially getting involved into cycling, whether commuting, racing, or participating in a family day ride, how you feel on the bike is what is important.

Set You & Your Bike Up For Success

Schedule an appointment with a licensed physical therapist to help guide & prepare you for everything that is cycling.

mountain bikers

Why You Need To Set Your Bike Up For Success

There are angles, positions, and ergonomics that need to be considered when spending some time in the saddle. Each bicycle is different. The most common bike fit errors include saddle heights that are too high or low, handle bar reach that is either too long or short, and misalignments of the pedal and shoe.

Flexibility For Biking

Good flexibility of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles is crucial. These muscles generate the majority of the pedaling force.  Equally important to proper bike fit is a rider’s physical condition. Riders should have their bike fit re-examined after bad falls or crashes due to possible re-orientation of handlebars, brakehoods, cleats, or saddle. Proper stretching, balance, and flexibility exercises help with coordination of cycling related skills, such as breaking and cornering. Changes in riders’ strength and flexibility affect the ability to attain certain positions on the bicycle and also may require them to re-examine their bike fit.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Proper bicycle fit will minimize discomfort and possible overuse injury, and ensure safe bicycle operation. Common bicycling complaints include front knee pain, neck pain, lower back pain, hamstring tendonitis, hand numbness or pain, foot numbness or pain, and iliotibial band tendinitis. Bicycle fit is an individual matter that reflects a person’s coordination, flexibility, strength, and skeletal parameters. National Bike to Work Day is coming up on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, and this would be a great community event to participate in. It is about the bike fitting to you, NOT you to the bike. Cycling should be about enjoyment, not pain.

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and manage individuals of all ages, who have medical problems or other health related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. They examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

How To Set Up Your Bike

SEAT/SADDLE     Be sure the seat, or saddle, is level. If you are sliding too far forward from a forward-tilting saddle then too much weight is being placed on your hands, arms, and lower back. If the seat is tilted backwards then you may place undue strain on your lower back and possibly experience saddle-related pain. A physical therapist can measure proper saddle height by measuring knee angle at the most extended position of the knee in common pedaling. The saddle should also be a comfortable distance from the handlebars. If it is too close then extra weight will be placed on the mid-back and arms; too far away and extra strain will be placed on the lower back and neck.

HANDLEBARS    Handlebar position will affect hand, shoulder, neck, and back comfort. The higher the handlebars, the more weight will be placed on the saddle. Generally, taller riders should have lower handlebars in relation to the height of the saddle. Proper handlebar position allows for shoulders to roughly make a 90 degree angle between the shoulder and trunk. Trunk angle for the road bike cyclist is 25-35 degrees and for comfort/recreational riding is 35-90 degrees.

KNEE TO PEDAL A physical therapist can also measure the angle of the knee to the pedal. The closer the angle is to 35 degrees, the better function the cyclist will have and with less stress on the knee. For the road cyclist, the angle should be 30-35 degrees. The recreational cyclist should have a 35-45 degree angle.

FOOT TO PEDAL   The ball of the foot should be positioned over the pedal spindle for the best leverage, comfort, and efficiency. A stiff-soled shoe is best for comfort and performance.

Enjoy the Benefits of Physical Therapy

If you've been dealing with a nagging injury or persistent pain, don't wait any longer.

Contact Us

If you would like to have a free screen to have any physical issues addressed, learn more about bike fits, or learn more about our clinic, please visit our website www.coloradoinmotion.com. Amy LaTendresse Glaser, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT, BikePT bike fitter can be reached at [email protected] or (970) 221-1201.

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