Better Biking: Prevent Injury & Stay Fit

By Physical Therapist Assistant Helene Mitchell


With the long anticipated spring-like weather and increased outdoor activities including bicycling, I’d like to stress the importance of a proper fitting bike. Whether you are a serious bicyclist or a recreational rider a proper fitting bike minimizes discomfort, increases efficiency and helps prevent injury.

Trunk Position and Shoulder Angle

For the recreational rider, trunk position should be 40-80 degrees from horizontal.
Shoulder angle should be between 80-90 degrees. For the road cyclist, trunk position should be between 30-40 degrees and shoulder angle should be between 90-100 degrees.

The Handlebars

Handlebar position will affect your hand, shoulder, neck and back comfort as well as the handling of your bicycle. Correct handlebar positioning will increase pedaling efficiency, aerodynamics, and improve safety. The width of the recreational rider’s handlebars should allow hands to be slightly wider than shoulders. For the road cyclist, hands should be approximately 2 cm wider than the shoulders for comfort and to help ensure good handling of the bicycle. Change hand position on the handlebars frequently and keep a controlled but relaxed grip.

Knee to Pedal

A physical therapist or an experienced bicyclist can measure the angle of
your knee to the pedal. The closer the angle is to 35 degrees, the better function you will have with less stress on the knee. For the recreational cyclist, the angle should be 35-45 degrees. The road cyclist should have a 30-35 degree angle.

The Saddle

The saddle on your bike should be level. If it tips downward, pressure will be placed on your hands and lower back. The saddle should also be a comfortable distance from the handlebars-too close will place extra weight on your mid-back and arms; too far away may put extra strain on your lower back and neck.

Foot to Pedal

Pedaling is a skilled activity that requires aerobic conditioning. You should work toward a goal of pedaling at 80-90 revolutions per minute to decrease the risk of injury. Place the ball of your foot over the pedal for the best leverage, comfort and efficiency.

Biking Tips:

• Wear a rigid-soled shoe for best comfort and performance.

• Always wear a helmet when riding your bike.

• For safety, wear bright clothing and use a bike light when riding at night.

• Ride with the flow of traffic and obey all traffic signs.

• Most importantly, enjoy the ride!

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