As winter months give way to longer days and warmer temperatures, bikers everywhere are gearing up for some spring cycling. Whether you’re a champion cyclist, a triathlete, or just a recreational biker, it’s important to know how to prevent injuries to ensure that you get the most out of your spring training.
Kevin Calvey, the clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy in Middletown, DE clinic, offers these tips to practice bike safety.
Change position on bicycle every ten minutes. Move slightly on the saddle, move the hands to either a new position, or just unclench and move the hand to a slightly different place on the grip.
Proper seat height is very important, but you should err on the short side. (An easy rule of thumb is if you can rest both feet on the ground at the same time while still sitting on the saddle, the seat is too low. This is the most common problem in amateur/weekend warrior cycling.)
Choose a bike saddle that is level to the ground when measured with a bubble level. (Cyclists commonly tilt the saddle nose down a tad which not only causes big problems for the hands and shoulders, but also for the knee. A saddle tilted up will cause pudendal neuralgia. (If that doesn’t sound bad, look it up!)
Make sure you have the right size bike frame. (It’s not uncommon to be sold or to buy a frame without knowing that it’s actually the wrong size frame. To learn how to measure and find the right bike frame size, visit Keep biking injuries at bay with these safety tips.)
Remember the importance of reach. (Reach is another aspect of frame size that can cause severe wrist, hand, and neck pain. The “stem,” which is the part that connects the bike front fork (steering tube) to the handlebars, is a standard length for the size frame it’s on. This part should be swapped out for a shorter one if you have a shorter torso or a “higher rise” version if you have a history of low back pain.)
Be sure to have adequate “float” for clipless pedal systems. (If you use clipless pedal systems, make sure the system has adequate “float” to allow for natural rotations in the lower leg bones while the knee goes through its cycle of motion.)
Maintain high cadence (rpm) regardless of grade. (To put it simply -- change gears often. Another very common flaw in cycling is to choose higher gears and push really hard to go fast, usually keeping a cadence or pedal turning frequency of 60 RPM. A far more appropriate and safe way is to choose a lower gear and pedal faster in the range of 90-100 RPM.)
Padded shorts can really make a difference. (If you’re not comfortable with spandex, they sell “normal” short looking versions with the bike shorts inside. As long as your bike is not WAY off in terms of size and set up, this is the single best thing you could do to increase your comfort and safety on a bike.)
Limit weekly mileage increases to 10%.