Ride More, Hurt Less on Your Next Bike Ride

Published - May 23, 2018

Whether you are enjoying a weekend trail ride or training for your next triathlon. It is important to ensure that you are taking the correct steps to stay injury free during your next time out. Below are some tips you can take to hurt less on your next ride:

  1. Stay Hydrated – Carry water with you on any ride longer than 30 minutes (shorter in hot conditions). You can use a backpack-style hydration pack, or a simple water bottle and cage. Almost all bicycles have bolts to hold a water bottle cage. Whichever method you choose, get familiar with it and get in the habit of using it often.
  2. Seat Angle – Everyone has a different preference on exact seat angle and position, but it should be roughly level. Deviations of 1-2 degrees up or down are OK, but don’t point up or down too much. This can place unnecessary pressure on pelvic soft tissue or the hands/wrists.
  3. Check Tire Pressure – If your tires are too soft, you have a much higher chance of “pinching” a tube, causing a flat. Low pressure also increases rolling resistance, making it more difficult for you to ride at a normal speed. Check the sidewall of your tires for recommended pressure range; it doesn’t need to be at the maximum, but be sure it’s at or above the minimum.
  4. Seat Height – An old belief about seat height was that you must be able to touch the ground with both feet when sitting on the saddle. If you are very new to cycling, this does improve your ability to stay upright at very slow speeds. However, a seat that is too low can put excess pressure on your knees and back, and is less efficient. Seat height should have the knee at about 30 degrees of bend at the lowest point in the pedal stroke.
  5. Riding Shouldn’t Hurt – Sure, if you’re looking to get a hard workout or ride fast, your legs will feel the burn. However, if your body and bike are working together properly, riding shouldn’t cause any joint pain. If you can’t ride without getting neck, back, hip or knee pain, consider having a professional look at either your body or your bike fit. Better yet, have a physical therapist who is versed in bike fitting address both at the same time. The answer to most aches and pains is rarely just in one area (bike fit or body work), and a combined approach will usually work best for alleviating pain and getting the most out of your ride.

Common Cycling-related pain and injuries that Physical Therapy can treat:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Foot numbness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Muscle strains
  • Hand pain/numbness

If you are experiencing pain and would like to speak your local physical therapist, schedule a Free Injury Screen at your nearest IRG clinic.

Expert: Grace Ellison, PT, DPT
From: IRG Physical & Hand Therapy - Edmonds