We just wanted to note Jim’s article that he wrote for the Canberra Cyclist magazine late last year. It is a great read for any cyclist who wants to improve their lower limb strength and their cycling. Jim covers the main areas of the Calf muscles, Quadriceps, Gluteal muscles and the Hamstrings. He’s also included easy exercises to help you improve your lower limb strength.
Are you wanting to improve your bike position? Common problem areas for cyclists are the head & neck, shoulders, wrists and body positioning. In this article, I’ll take a look at these areas and how to improve your position and prevent injuries.
Spring has definitely arrived, bringing with it the best time of year to get out and about on your bicycle! Whilst those hardy commuters throughout winter have braved the Canberra chill, the rest of us now have a great chance to go mountain biking or road cycling once again. The outline of this particular topic revolves around the oft-forgotten art of upper body positioning; involving your neck, shoulders, arms and wrists.
Don’t forget to have a read of Sophie’s article on 5 Core Strength Exercises for Cyclists. Our resident core specialist, Sophie, has produced an excellent article regarding the importance of abdominals and back muscles when riding.
An amazing statistic I found whilst researching for this topic was that 57% of participants in this particular survey indicated that they had never done anything to reduce any discomfort whilst cycling. Whether you have purchased your bike new or off Gumtree, I find this astounding. It is highly unlikely that the bike will fit your body type perfectly, straight out of the crate. You will also not be exactly the same build as the seller. [Read more…]
If you suffer from cycling knee pain, you know how debilitating this can be. With the warmer weather approaching it is time to start getting back on the bike and building up your fitness over summer. Whether you are training for a full day race or just interested in commuting more, this can be a potentially problematic period of time for the body. This is because the amount of time you spend on the bike increases. We’ve covered Bike fitting previously on this website and I have recently had another article of mine published in Flow Magazine, Bike Fitting Fundamentals: A Case Study with Dylan Cooper.
On this occasion I thought we could take a closer look at knees as a potential problem area for cyclists and some ways of preventing knee pain. At an elite level in one study, knee pain accounted 57% of injuries that required time off the bike. However, there are some steps you can take to help prevent you falling into this group.
What I’ll cover in this article:
- Anatomy of the knee
- Types of knee pain
- How to fix cycling knee pain
- How to prevent cycling knee pain
- Best 3 stretches for cycling knee pain
Can you ride your bike more efficiently and comfortably? A case study with Trek Racing Australia’s Dylan Cooper.
Recently I had the pleasure of working with Dylan Cooper from Trek Racing Australia to help solve a few of his long term aches and pains and get the most out of his bike. I wrote an article on Dylan’s bike fit for Flow Mountain Bike .
Here’s a little taster…
It’s Saturday morning and the familiar smell of glove funk and chain lube is wafting in the air. You’re out on your local ride feeling indestructible. Unfortunately you come to realise that you are not. Frustratingly it’s not your fitness that gives out but that recurring injury that has plagued you for what feels like as long as you can remember. Personally at this point I’d be justifying a more expensive bike for myself as an investment in my health. However the first three bikes didn’t change the issue, why would the next? You may have spent thousands of dollars on your dream bike, why not make sure the bike fits you and more importantly that you fit the bike. Not only will you be more comfortable and efficient on the bike, but it also less likely to get injured.”
You can read the entire article with photos over at Flow Mountain Bike
We are pretty spoilt in Canberra with great bike paths and world class mountain bike facilities. Many cyclists are happy to pick up a new bike fresh from the store and ride it blissfully unaware whether or not they are in the optimum position to maximise efficiency and minimising injury. There are many factors that in combination, will help you to find the best bike position for cycling.
There have been many studies into optimal seat height to increase pedaling efficiency, most based on oxygen consumption with little regard to the biomechanical features of the cyclist. These studies typically do not consider the cleat position nor the pedaling technique of the rider in determining pedalling efficiency. There is also no regard to saddle compression which can make a difference to optimal seat height by a few millimetres, a small amount indeed but by no means insignificant in terms of the optimal bike position.
Such things as leg length differences (anatomical and functional), muscle shortness, foot and leg alignment, upper leg (femur) versus lower leg (tibia) length, pelvic alignment (especially rotations) and hip flexibility can all influence the optimal seat height position achieved by the rider.
What tends to work best is achieving as close to the optimal seat height with respect to the biomechanics of the rider – in short fitting the bike to the biomechanics of the rider. Having the seat too high can lead to low back and sciatic pain, too low can bring on knee issues.
One of the easiest ways to make you faster on a bike is to become more aerodynamic. It has been shown that as you increase in speed, wind resistance increases exponentially whilst rolling resistance remains constant. Consequently, at 30 km/h wind resistance is approximately 90% of the total resistance a rider must overcome to move forward. This doesn’t mean you need find a helmet that was designed by NASA, or lycra that would look less tight if it was painted on, but it would be helpful to get your body position right.
I recently attended a conference on cycling biomechanics. A physiotherapist that spent several years working with the Australian Olympic Cycling Team presented that the optimal body angle to decrease wind resistance without compromising pedalling efficiency was found to be 20 degrees to the horizontal whilst keeping the spine in neutral. Sadly, unless you are Tony Martin or Fabian Cancellara this will be hard to maintain. Often we need to alter this position to look after achy backs or tight hamstrings. I certainly wouldn’t be able to adopt this position on my bike for long without previously undertaking a year’s worth of yoga. If a cyclist is too tight through their hamstrings then they will not have the flexibility to get into a more aerodynamic position with a neutral spine. Also, as Craig Honeybrook from Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy outlined on 12 February 2014 in his article “Core Stability and Cycling” there is a considerable amount of strength and core control required to hold this position.
One of the tools we use at Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy during our bike fittings is a sizing stem which allows us to adjust head stem angle and length. This means we can easily figure out how close to the ideal upper body position a cyclist can tolerate.
An essential part of bike fitting is also fitting the rider to the bike. Thus, I always look at prescribing exercises to the rider that will allow them to develop the strength and/or flexibility to attain the ideal position on the bike and maintain an efficient and safe pedalling technique.
The best advice I could give regarding bike setup is if you want to be happy and healthy on your bike is to get yourself a thorough assessment by a physiotherapist. Whilst your local bike shop may have a thorough understanding of bikes, they will not be able to assess and diagnose biomechanical issues in the rider that could significantly affect the overall position. Most bike shops will get you in an acceptable range and if you don’t have any biomechanical issues then it may in fact it may be very close. However, in my experience nearly all the riders I see have some biomechanical problems (even professional cyclists). Indeed, I would estimate that about 9 out of 10 cyclists we fit to bikes require a shim for an anatomical or a functional leg length difference. Also a physio can help prescribe exercises to help the cyclist achieve that ideal position. At Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy, we not only fit the bike to you, but we also fit you to your bike.
Call Sport and Spinal Physiotherapy on 62624464 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about a full bike assessment or a cycling related injury.