by Sara Bresnick, PT
Cycling can be a great activity for people to participate in through out their lifetime. It is great for your cardiovascular system and it is a non-impact activity, meaning it puts very little stress on bones, joints, and ligaments. As long as your bicycle is properly fit to your body, there is no reason you can’t enjoy pain free cycling for a life time.
When people arrive complaining about pain with cycling, a red flag immediately goes up in my mind. With cycling, pain most likely means improper bike fit. To the lay person, a bike may not seem very complicated to set up. To an expert, however, this is not the case.
There are an infinite number of adjustments that can me made on a bicycle. Knee pain could mean a seat is to high or too low, too far forward or two far backward. Pain with the saddle could mean the seat is tilted too far up or too far down. People complaining of neck or shoulder pain may be in need of adjustment of the height or reach of the handle bars. Those who ride with cycling specific shoes could need their cleats placed properly on their shoes.
Many people who have pain or discomfort while cycling, immediately stop the activity. Please don’t! Instead, find someone who is educated in bike fit, it is well worth the money. Have an expert position you on the bike in an optimal position for your body and your health. Seeing a professional will ensure you many miles of pain free cycling and the ability to participate in a healthy activity for the rest of your life.
Sara Bresnick is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine