It’s just like riding a bike…

How To Adjust Your Bike And Body For Pain Free Cycling

Cycling is a great form of exercise but can still cause pain and injury due to either the bike set up or how you use your body when cycling.

If you stop to think about your body and technique, you might find that there are some small and crucial factors you are overlooking that may be leading you to experience that pesky knee pain, or even holding you back from reaching your fitness goals.

Bike Set Up

These are the two major causes of overuse injury relating to bike set up which is incorrect handle positioning and the seat being too low.

When looking at these causes, we understand that by simply altering the positioning of the seat and handles, that we can eliminate the cause of pain. If the handle bars are too low and/or far away, we just need to raise the handlebars and/or shorten the stem reach. This is a rather simple and easy fix.

Make sure your handlebars are in the right position for your body

Incorrect handle positioning 

Having your bike handles in the wrong position can lead to both shoulder and neck pain, as you are forcing these joints to work harder and in a vulnerable position. For example, hyperextension of the neck is often caused by a handlebar position that is too low or too far away. 

Seat height being too low

While a seat being to low, leads to excessive pronation of the foot, which results in a decreased amount of muscle control. This becomes a big problem, as the body will begin to alter its function, which then causes joint pain in your lower extremity, as well as preventing you from reaching your fitness goals.

Our Body’s Set Up

There are also cycling related injuries related to our body, and these are discussed below:

Lack of pelvic stability in cycling

When our pelvis is unstable, we are unable to keep a fixed position on the bike, and instead start to rock side to side through the pelvis. This is not good for our knees, as they are unable to adapt to this increase in movement, and therefore begin to hurt as they try their best to adapt.

Lack of thoracic spine rotation 

A lack of rotation through our thoracic spine leads to increase rotation through the pelvis, resulting in pelvic instability and therefore having the same negative impact on our knees.

Inadequate strength 

While inadequate strength is a problem, because it often leads to the onset of a tendinopathy. Common sites for a tendinopathy in cyclists are the achilles and hamstring, while it is also normal to experience them in the elbow.

Knee pain is common in cycling.

How To Resolve Overuse Injury When Cycling

When discussing the overuse injuries caused by our body, you need to know that you are likely in need of outside help; at least initially. This is because, the best way to address these factors are through improving:

  • Flexibility 
  • Mobility 
  • Stability 
  • Strength 

That is where Osteopathy comes in, as an Osteopath can help you identify the problem areas, through using tests that assess muscle activation and joint range of motion.

Once identified, there are countless techniques that can be used to restore range of motion and decrease pain. While they also have the knowledge to prescribe you with exercises, in order to strengthen the necessary areas.

We hope that through reading this, you start to discover the important components of cycling as well as identifying any issues that you or someone you know, have been experiencing.

Our team can definitely get you moving in the right direction, to ensure you are the happiest and healthiest you can be!

Author: Osteopath, Dr James Goetz