We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cyclists on our roads in Melbourne over the last number of years, whether it be commuting to work, rehabilitation or recreation. Unfortunately, this has lead to a number of injured persons coming through the doors at Elite Myotherapy with knee pain and back pain as a result of incorrect bike fits or poor muscle motor control.
While cycling, our feet are spinning around 70-80 revolutions per minute on the pedals (RPM). This equals almost 5,000 per hour. Now lets think, we wouldn’t want our lawn mowers, car tyres or blenders spinning around in the incorrect position as this would cause damage, right? Or the parts in these machines to be faulty? The same thinking should be applied to our bodies on a bike as a result of the repetitiveness of the movements and small margin of error available.
The great (or not so great) thing about our body is that it will find a way to achieve tasks if we have decreased muscle activity or restriction of range in a joint, by using another muscle or joint that will compensate for it. This may present as injury elsewhere in the body, usually as knee or back pain.
When a cyclist presents with pain, one of the first aspects we determine at Elite (along with a myriad of other aspects) is if they have the appropriate range of motion in their hips, knees and ankles. Furthermore, if their muscles are weak or firing in the correct order. A commonly weak muscle group involved is the gluteals which help to stabilize the pelvis and to power the legs through the pedal cycle. Unfortunately these may become weak through prolonged sitting and poor postural habits.
So what do we mean by “bike fitting” and why is it important? In short, fitting a bike to an individuals specific body needs means adjusting the seat height, forward/backward seat position, handlebar height and foot position to allow for optimal muscle length. Ultimately – we are aiming to improve the efficiency of the muscles which means less injury and less fatigue!
Chris Calabrese – Elite Myotherapist