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4 Common Bike Pains and Simple Ways to Avoid Them!

#BikemonthTO: 4 Common Bike Pains and Simple Ways to Avoid Them!

Last updated: September 14, 2020

Do you own a bicycle? Chances are if you do own a bike, bike for recreation, commute or just in general enjoy biking you have felt one of these issues or had complaints of pain somewhere on the body due to biking. Today, we will go over the most common bike pains, the proper body mechanics, and quick adjustments to improve your pain and biking comfort

Common Bike Pains We Will Discuss Today:

1) Neck Pain

Improper prolonged posture while cycling can cause increased neck pain and discomfort especially for longer bike rides. Improper posture caused by improper bike fitting can lead to poor posture while cycling. Having your seat or handlebars too low can cause your back to become more horizontal or parallel to the ground – forcing you to bend your head and neck up to see what is ahead of you.

What should I look for?

It’ is best to have the spine of your lower back, middle back, upper back and neck connect in a long straight line when biking. That means you don’t want to hunch forward too much or bend your head up too far but maintain a more neutral spine position. Adjust your seat height and your handle bar height so that you achieve this.

Quick adjustments:

  1. Raise the height of your handle bars so you don’t have to look up as much
  2. Lower the height of your seat to make your back less paralle to the ground

2) Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is common for a few reasons which may include riding on uneven terrain, having your bike seat too high or too low, or having your seat or saddle of your bike angled too far forward and back. Having your seat too high or too low may cause you to use your back more than your legs while biking (seen when your hips move side to side, “rocking”, while pedalling). It is bet to have your hips stay as neutral as possible to avoid using your lower back muscles more than your legs. Having your seat or saddle angled too far forward and back places your back in a too flexed (bent) or extended (arched) position while riding which may place excessive forces on the muscles of your lower back.

What should I look for?

Similar to the neck, you should have your lower back in a more neutral position, in line with the rest of your spine. Adjust the height of your seat so that when you peddle your hips aren’t “rocking” and moving side to side too much. Adjust the angle of your saddle to maximize comfort while maintaining a neutral position for your lower back.

Quick adjustments:

  1. Raise or lower your seat to prevent rocking of your hips
  2. Angle your saddle more forwards or backwards for crotch comfort and to create a more flattened lower back

What is a neutral spine position?

It is when your neck and back line up to look like a smooth downhill ski slope.

Smooth alignment of your spine from your neck to your lower back is ideal.

3) Wrist Pain

Wrist pain can happen when you place too much weight onto your hands while biking. You may be placing too much weight in your wrists and hands, overgripping the handlebars, having your handle bars too low, or if you often ride your bike with your hips or buttocks off the saddle. Majority of the weight should be on the saddle while you are sitting with less on the wrists and hands. The ratio of weight on your hips to your hands and wrists are usually 60/40 or 70/30 depending on the person.

What should I look for?

Make sure your handlebars aren’t too low to avoid excessive amounts of pressure on the joints of your your hands and wrists. Avoid overgripping onto the handle bars but resting the palms of your hands and not fully closing your fingers around the bar while biking. You really don’t need a lot of grip while biking and can do everything on a bike that you would normally. Keep your hips on the saddle while biking to avoid putting additional weight on your hands and wrists. If you raise your hips off your saddle often due to discomfort, it may be time for you to change your saddle. It is normal for a saddle to wear out from use and/or common for saddles to be uncomfortable due to improper fit or the shape. It may be time to go to your neighbourhood bike store to be properly fitted for a decent saddle. If you have a wrist or hand condition, you may want to consider investing in a pair of cycling gloves to add a bit more support to your hands and wrists.

Quick adjustments:

  1. Avoid over griping. Try a loosened grip while biking.
  2. Keep your hips on the saddle while biking and avoid lifting your bum off the seat while biking
  3. Raise the handlebars to take some pressure off your hands
  4. Lower the height of your seat which also may take pressure off your hands
  5. It may be time to change or be fitted for a new saddle if it’s not comfortable
  6. Invest in a pair of cycling gloves for added support if you have a wrist or hand condition.

4) Knee Pain

Knee pain is very common and very easy to fix in most cases if it is caused by cycling. Most knee pain from cycling is due to improper body mechanics such as having your seat too high or too low causing your knee to be too bent or too straight. Placement of your foot on the peddle can play a part in knee pain as well. Having your knee too bent can place more pressure on the front of the knee and can cause more pain in the quadriceps muscle and knee cap. Having your knee too straight can place more strain on the back of the knee or on the hamstrings muscle group.

What should I look for?

The front of your knee should always be in line with the ball of your foot while biking. While stationary, with your buttocks on the seat and foot on the bike, you want about 20 degrees of knee bend and the ball of your foot (or widest part of your foot) should be at the axis of the peddle.

The knee should line up vertically with the ball of your foot.

Quick adjustments:

  1. Raise or lower your seat height to allow for a bit of knee bend while stationary
  2. Ensure the ball (widest part) of your foot is at the axis of the peddle.

Have more questions?

Book with one of our experienced physiotherapists today if you need more help or have more questions regarding biking comfort, performance, or general health and wellness.

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