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Tips for avoiding bike-related injuries

COLUMN: ON THE MOVE

Bicycle-related pain and injuries are commonly associated with poor bike fit. Following these tips will help you minimize the risk of injury.

Postural Tips:

—Change hand position on the handlebars frequently for upper-body comfort.

—Keep a controlled but relaxed grip of the handlebars.

—When pedaling, your knee should be slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Avoid rocking your hips while pedaling.

Common Bicycling Pains:

—Anterior (front) Knee Pain: Possible causes are having a saddle that is too low, pedaling at a low speed, using your quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling, misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals and muscle imbalance in your legs (strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings).

—Neck Pain: Possible causes include poor handlebar or saddle position. A poorly placed handlebar might be too low, at too great a reach or at too short a reach. A saddle with excessive downward tilt can be a source of neck pain.

—Lower Back Pain: Possible causes include inflexible hamstrings, low speed, using your quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling, poor back strength and too-long or too-low handlebars.

—Hamstring Tendonitis: Possible causes are inflexible hamstrings, high saddle, misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals and poor hamstring strength.

—Hand Numbness or Pain: Possible causes are short-reach handlebars, poorly placed brake levers and a downward tilt of the saddle.

—Foot Numbness or Pain: Possible causes are using quadriceps muscles to much in pedaling, low speed, faulty foot mechanics and misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals.

—Iliotibial Band Tendinitis: Possible causes are too-high saddle, leg length difference and misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals.

If you are experiencing pain from your bicycling adventures, contact your local physical therapist. Physical therapists are experts in the way the body moves and can help restore pain-free mobility.

Dr. Shelley Kraetz is a certified physical therapist and the owner of Kraetz Physical Therapy in Skaneateles. Kraetzpt.com.

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