Due to the repetitive nature of cycling, cyclists are at a higher risk for repetitive stress injuries. Some of these injuries may be caused by an improperly adjusted bicycle. When a bicycle is not ideally adjusted to fit you, you will experience higher levels of stress in certain areas of the body. This will eventually lead to tissue injury and pain. Think of it this way: if you were to use your finger to push on one small area of your skin 10 times, your body is able to adapt to that stress and there is no injury. If you were to push on that same area of your skin 1,000 times, you end up with a bruise, which indicates tissue injury.
A few quick adjustments of the bicycle can alleviate some of the common sources of pain and injury. An easy way to start is to assess the position of your feet on the pedals. The feet should be contacting the pedals on the balls of the feet, and the toes and heels should be lined up parallel to the bicycle frame. If the cleat positions are causing the feet to point inward or outward, it can commonly cause knee, thigh, and hip pain. If the feet are making contact with the pedal too far back toward the heels, it can cause arch pain in the feet. Another quick way to check your positioning is to make sure that the knees and the feet are lined up vertically as you pedal. If the knees repetitively veer from this ideal position either towards or away from the bike frame, it can be another source of hip or knee pain. The saddle height and forward/backwards positioning is a little harder to assess on your own and may require a trained professional to adjust. An improperly positioned saddle may lead to pain in the low back, knees, or hips.
If you are experiencing pain with cycling, consider your positioning on the bicycle as a potential contributor. Sometimes, a small change in the fit can make a large difference in symptoms and comfort. If you still experience pain after making these simple adjustments, you can request a free injury screen at any Athletico location.
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