Biking for Health & Wellness
Updated: Feb 8
Well the dog days of summer are here a great family activity is to get out for a bicycle ride. Biking is a great activity to stay fit, promote cardiovascular health and muscular endurance. It is however extremely important to ensure that your bike fits you. On average in a one hour bike ride you will complete over 3000 pedal revolutions. So to avoid injury and pain to your knees, neck and lower back make sure that your bike is set up for your specific body proportions. The correct fit of your frame size, alignment of the foot and pedal, handle bar position and seat height creates an optimal postural position for your muscles to work together in harmony. Erin Hvidston, physiotherapist at Flo Physiotherapy says “we have a wide range of cyclists from those doing family rides to Ironman athletes who come into see us with injuries that could have been avoided had their bike fit”. As physiotherapists we will often send some of the more serious cyclists to have their bikes professionally fit to them at a bike store in Penticton. For the recreational cyclists we give them these simple bike fit tips.
Frame Size: Stand over your bicycles top tube (between the saddle and the handle bar). The general rule of thumb for road biking is to have one inch of clearance between your buttocks and the frame. For mountain biking you should have between two and six inches depending on the type of terrain and slope you are riding on so that you can easily and quickly put your feet down.
Saddle Position and Height: The saddle should be level. If your saddle slopes downward in a forward position then you will be placing too much weight on your arms as they prevent you from sliding forward. If the saddle slopes backward you will place too much strain on your lower back and there will be too much pressure in the groin area. Saddle height should be so that your legs are not quite fully extended at the end of the pedal stroke. The straight leg should have approximately 30 degrees of bend in it.
Shoe/Cleat Alignment: If you ride with clipless pedals then make sure that your feet point straight ahead when you are clipped into the pedals. You should also have a little bit of “float” or sideways movement in the pedal to allow for your joints to follow a natural pedal stroke. It is generally advisable to adjust the tension in the cleats until you feel no torsional or twisting stress in your lower leg as you pedal.
Handle Bar Position: If these are too far forward or too low then you may not be too comfortable in your neck or lower back as you stretch to reach the handle bars. Higher handle bars have you place more weight through the saddle.
We hope these tips allow for happy trails.
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