Keep biking injuries at bay with these safety tips

Does fall weather mean cycling season to you? It does to us! 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 fall training.

And in honor of the Bike MS: Bike to the Bay event that ATI is sponsoring on Sept. 22 & 23, we’re bringing you what you need to know about keeping injuries at bay!

Kevin Calvey, the clinic director at our Middletown, DE clinic, offered us these tips:

  • 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.
    • A seat that is too low can increase frontal knee pain by increasing the pressure the kneecap puts on the thigh bone.
    • A seat that is too high can lead to a painful tendinitis at the outside of the knee.
    • Seat tilt can also cause painful overuse injuries to nerves in that region.
      • A bike saddle should be 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.
    • Too large of a frame will lead to increased low back pain.  This can also lead to neck pain down the road because of how the neck must be held to ride longer distances.
    • How to measure and find the right size bike frame:
      • Inquire with bicycle dealer which way the frame is measured, either Center to Top (C-T) or Center to Center (C-C)
      • Greg Lemond Formula
      • Inseam x 0.65 = C-C frame size in cm
      • Inseam x 0.67 = C-T frame size in cm
    • Inseam is measured from a leveled straight edge pulled up to crotch with approximately 20 pounds of pressure to a firm surface in bare feet.
    • 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.
    • Remember that measurements are good starting points for the average proportioned adult, but not everyone is averagely proportioned. Your measurements may differ based on your size and proportions.
  • 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. (i.e. 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.
    • Too low a cadence and frontal knee, low back, and foot numbness will likely occur.
  • 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%.
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