See What HealthDay Can Do For You
Contact Us

Your Bike Should Be A Good Fit

Otherwise you'll pedal your way to injury, experts say

WEDNESDAY, July 14, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If your bike doesn't fit you properly, you may be pedaling 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 pedaling economy," Moen said.

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.

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 pedaling 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.

Here are some cycling posture tips from the APTA:

  • Your knee should be slightly bent when you're at the bottom of your pedal stroke. Your hips should not rock while you're pedaling.
  • Change your hand position frequently for greater upper-body comfort.
  • A higher pedaling speed and using easier gears will help you achieve better pedaling skills. Your cadence goal should be 80 to 90 revolutions per minute. Come cycle computers provide cadence information.

More information

The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club offers these cycling fitness tips.

SOURCE: American Physical Therapy Association, news release, June 2004
Consumer News