Summer is upon us! It’s time to ditch the morning traffic jams and seemingly non-existent parking spaces in exchange for fresh air and the thrill of a bicycle commute. If you’re a regular cyclist, you know that biking is not only great exercise but also an excellent way to promote increased brainpower, confidence, lower blood pressure, and injury recovery (biking is easy on the joints and therefore a great aerobic activity for those with knee issues), among many other benefits.
When it comes to injury prevention and increased performance, the importance of a correct bike fit cannot be understated. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just a casual rider, if you’ve never gone through the process, it’s likely that your current setup could use a few tweaks to ensure that you’re riding at the optimal level. What you may not have considered about your bike is that when it was manufactured, it was done so with an average body type in mind. Depending on who you are, it’s very possible that your body doesn’t conform to this idea of “one size fits all”. Without the correct modifications, the contact points between your bike and your body have the potential to negatively impact your ideal posture and fit, leading to pain in the lower back, knees, or hands. Thankfully, with a few minor adjustments, you can ride easy knowing that you and your bike are operating harmoniously at your peak performance.
What Exactly is a Bike Fit?
Very simply, the point of a bike fit is to ride comfortably, ride longer, and ride with the peace of mind that this beneficial activity is not doing your body any harm. Feeling motivated yet?
When you go in for a bike fit, a specialist will take you through a number of tests to determine where any problems may exist. A fitness assessment will gauge your strength, flexibility, and joint mobility, taking into consideration your individual body type and the effect of your current bike setup. This will guide the specialist’s decision as to which modifications will fit your specific body type. You’ll also go through a functional assessment of your balance and neuromuscular control. If any strength or mobility issues arise, the bike fit specialist can offer a home exercise program to address the problems.
Next, they’ll address your current bike fit by optimizing your position as it is related to the three points of contact: handlebar, saddle, and foot/pedal interface. One common complaint from bikers, hand numbness, may often be written off as “just something riders have to deal with” but this is not the case! Frequently, hand pain and numbness are a result of improper positioning of the saddle and/or handlebars. Knee pain is also common among riders and can be addressed by adjusting the saddle height or cleat placement, which can reduce excessive strain on the anterior or lateral surface of your knee. If you’ve ever experienced lower back pain while riding, your bike specialist will correct the problem by adjusting saddle tilt or fore/aft position to facilitate a better neutral spine posture and to decrease excessive load on your lumbar discs and facet joints.
A bike fit evaluation can have a lasting impact on your body’s performance while cycling and can go a long way in terms of preventing serious injuries. Going in for a bike fit supports one of cycling’s greatest benefits: feeling great while you exercise.
We’ll see you in the bike lane!