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The best positions for cycling – Andrew Doody, Fleet Street’s Osteopath gives advice

03 Jul 2017

SUMMER CYCLING

Summer and Tour de France is upon us! Why not use the opportunity to dust off your bike and think about turning that commute into an opportunity to get fitter or shed a few pounds?

Cycling – a low impact sport

Compared to many sports, cycling is one with a relatively low injury rate. Crashes and collisions apart, cycling is impact free – good for your joints and muscles. In addition, if you select the correct gear to match the terrain, it means that you can avoid overloading your muscles and joints, keeping the cranks spinning rather than pushing a big gear.

Also important is that because your feet are fixed in place, spinning the cranks requires very little coordination, which also reduces the risk of injury due to poor technique, which is very common while running. Still, despite all these advantages, cyclists can, and regularly do, suffer overuse injuries.

Fix a good riding position:

One of the main issues is the set up of the bike itself. Here are a few pointers as to how to best achieve a good riding position:

SADDLE HEIGHT

This should be positioned so that when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke and the ball of your foot is on the pedal, your knee should have a slight bend in it. If you want to get technical, saddle to pedal distance should be 109% of your inside leg measurement. Hips shouldn’t move sideways during crank rotation and you shouldn’t have to stretch at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Don’t be put off by feeling you have to come off the saddle to touch the floor.

SADDLE ANGLE

This should be in a horizontal position, parallel with the floor when viewed side on (but sometimes a very slight downwards tilt can be helpful for those who experience a lot of pressure in the perineum area. However, don’t do this just because it feels more comfortable, as this can cause lessen support and affect riding position).

POSITION OF THE SADDLE

With the pedals adjusted so that they are at the three o’clock and nine o’clock positions, a vertical line dropped from the kneecap of the forward knee should pass through the axle of the pedal.

HANDLEBAR POSITION

This is where opinion varies a little. Racers want the handlebars low to lower wind resistance, climbers want the handlebars low so they don’t feel too high when the bike’s angled up. The rest of us want them higher than this. A good rule of thumb is that you don’t want to be leaning on the handlebars too much, only holding them. If it feels like your upper bodyweight is being supported by the handlebars, try them up a little. Not all bikes are adjustable enough at the front but a stem raise is a cheap efficient way of remedying this. A bit more height in traffic is safer anyway.

And if you haven’t bought your bike yet, put a bit of research into what frame/wheel size you need before you do.

Cycling is a great way to get fit and works well with core stability, however, if any injuries do niggle don’t push through and do get them checked out!

Osteopath at Fleet Street Clinic

Andrew Doody is an osteopath at Fleet Street Clinic and is fully registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOSC).

Book an appointment with him if you have any musculoskeletal injuries by calling on 0207 353 5678 , email info@fleetstreetclinic.com or book an appointment online.

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