Sometimes people who come into my office complaining of neck, low back, knee pain or hand/foot numbness don’t take notice that their posture at work, home or school may be having negative effects on their nerves. Often times they are oblivious to the fact that the sport they do to stay in shape may have bad effects too.
Neck, low back, knee or hand/foot pain during or after biking may mean you don’t have proper bike ergonomics. Buying the right bike for you is imperative. Here are some tips to avoid injuries and keep riding.
The proper saddle:
Your seat should be at a level that supports the full weight of your body while allowing you to re-adjust your position. If the front of your seat is tilted up, you will slide backward and it will be hard to reach the peddles and force you to push your back forward adding stress to the low back. If the seat is tilted downward, you slide forward putting more pressure on your arms, wrists, hands and knees.
To make sure your seat is the right height. Wear the appropriate biking shoes and put your heels on the pedals. Start to pedal backwards and make sure your knees fully extend without reaching. If you notice that you have to move your hips from side to side to pedal, then your seat is too high. Now when it is time to start pedaling forward you will notice that the balls of your feet are over the pedal and a slight bend in the knees occur with each push.
Proper handlebar height:
Miscalculation of handle bar height can lead to neck, shoulder back, hand/wrist pain.
Proper ergonomics of the handlebars will allow you to bend your elbows while using all of the positions of the handlebars and gears.
Knee pain occurs when the seat is too high or low or tilted improperly. Also, the improper bike shoe position can cause knee problems: Here are some cause and effects of improper seat or pedal ergonomics.
- Seat too high will result in pain in the back of the knee or hip pain.
- A low seat or forward seat will cause pain in the front of the knee.
- Improper foot position will cause pain on the outside of your knee.
Differences in leg length may lead to twisting on the bike, stretching of one leg which pulls on the hips. Shoe orthotics and hip adjustments to keep the hips even can alleviate this problem.
Neck pain happens commonly with cycling. Usually this is a problem of having the handlebars too low or having a bike that is too long for the cyclist. Not stretching the hamstrings or muscles in the front of the thigh can cause neck problems because it will force the spine to arch which will force your head to extend backward while riding.
Foot numbness or pain:
Wearing the proper shoe is necessary with someone who bikes regularly. Bike shoes are made to evenly distribute the pressure on each pedal. Also, if you are riding in a gear that is too high for you, it will put more pressure on the feet causing a disruption of the nerves and tissues of the feet.
Hand Pain or Numbness:
Wear padded gloves while riding to provide a cushion and not push on the median nerve. Allow the shock of the ground to be put on the elbows which can bounce and absorb the pressure from the bumps during the ride.
Remember to always stretch and relax before and after riding. This will prevent tightness and reduce the chance of pulling a muscle.