We often see patients with pain during or after cycling. They may complain or low back pain, numbness and tingling in their hands or feet, upper back pain, etc. Most of the time the issue is ultimately caused by poor riding posture or an ill-fitting bike. As we get into prime cycling season, here are some tips on a proper bike fit and proper posture.
First, make sure you have the shoes on you wear for cycling when you test the height of the bike. You should be able to straddle your bike without making contact with the center tube. There should be about 1 inch between you and the bike. Sloping tubes can have a little more clearance ( about 2 inches).
Look at your knees when you have your feet in the pedals. When the knee is at it’s straightest point, it should still be bent about 10-20 degrees. lf the knee is completely straight, then the seat is too high. If it’s bent more than 20 degrees, then your seat is too low.
You want your kneecap to be in line with the ball of your foot. If the knee is far behind the foot, you need the seat adjusted forward and visa versa if the knee is too far over the foot.
For posture, your back should be angled at the hip about 45 degrees, not rounding into your low back. You should be able to reach your handlebars with your arms slightly bent while maintaining that 45 degree hip bend. It should be a comfortable position and the breaks should be easily accessible.
You want to maintain that neutral spine position as best you can throughout your ride. You want to concentrate on pulling your lower abdominals towards your spine and keeping your head & neck in a neutral position, not looking too far up or down. Keep your shoulder blades down and back on your rib cage with your shoulders OUT of your ears. Try not to round your shoulders forward.
For bike fit, talk with a pro at your local bike shop if you are unable to properly fit your bike or it feels uncomfortable. They may be able to make adjustments that you didn’t even know were possible.
For form, check in with your PT about the proper posture and alignment. Bring your bike to your session and show us how you are positioning yourself. And then have fun riding!
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