Physical therapists want you to know that equally important to the way you and your bike fit together is your own physical fitness. Good flexibility of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles is crucial because they generate the majority of pedaling force and experience a high frequency arc of motion. Proper stretching, balance, and strengthening exercises will help with coordination of bicycle-related skills such as pedaling and maneuvering the bicycle. Also, consider your level of endurance as you determine the distances you would like to ride.
Posture tips for Cyclists include:
- Change hand position on the handlebars frequently.
- Keep a controlled but relaxed grip on the handlebars.
- Back strength is important, especially for road bike riders.
- Wear a rigid-soled shoe to avoid foot pain and to increase your mechanical efficiency.
- Make it your goal to work toward pedaling at 80-90 revolutions per minute. Pedaling at this rate will lessen your chance of injury.
Whether you are a serious bicyclist or a recreational rider, when it comes to bicycling you and your bike should fit well together. A proper bike fit minimizes discomfort, increases efficiency and helps prevent pain or injury. Physical therapists can evaluate the way your body is positioned on the bike to make sure your biking style “fits” your functional goals, whether they are for comfort and endurance or speed and performance. There are distinct differences involving the trunk position, shoulder angle, handlebars position, knee and foot-to pedal-angles, and the saddle for determining the proper fit depending on the recreational vs. road cyclist.
If adjustments and equipment changes need to be made to your bicycle, consider taking it to your local bicycle dealer. Ask if the dealer knows a physical therapist who can work with you on proper fit. Or, visit APTA’s website at www.apta.org and click on “Find a PT.” Contact a physical therapist who treats orthopedic or sports conditions.
Safety tips to keep in mind:
- Wear your helmet - The straps should fit snug enough to prevent the helmet from slipping. It should also meet certain safety criteria. Look for “Snell Certified” or “Meets ANSI Z904 Standard.”
- Be visible - Wear bright clothing and use a white light on the front of your bike and a red reflector or light in the rear. Add reflective material on your clothing and bicycle when riding at night. A flag fastened to the back of your bike may be useful to increase visibility.
- Obey the law - Ride with traffic flow, and obey all traffic controls such as stop signs, traffic signals, and one-way streets. Rules of right-of-way for motor vehicles also apply to bikes. Ride in a predictable manner and avoid quick, irregular changes of position or momentum. Ride on bicycle paths whenever possible.
Parked cars - Watch for cars pulling into traffic or entering the street from driveways as well as doors opening on parked cars. Don’t weave between parked cars!
(Bike Right, Bike Fit: APTA 2006)