The grass is out and perhaps you are thinking about getting out enjoying some exercise. Bicycling can be a great form of exercise with benefits including aerobic conditioning and lower extremity strengthening. Now is a good time to get your bike out and do some basic maintenance such as inspecting the brakes to make sure they work well, lubricate the chain and inspect the tires to ensure the rubber does not have cracks or other defects that could lead to a flat tire or worse yet, a blowout. If you are not comfortable doing these tasks then now is a great time to take your bike to a local bike shop for a spring tune-up.
For an enjoyable bike ride the fit of your bicycle is important. Key areas to consider include the height of your seat. A seat that is too high will cause you to rock on the seat to reach the pedals; too low can cause knee pain. It is also important to be sure the seat is level. A forward tilted seat can lead to pain in your hands, arms, and lower back. A seat that is tilted backwards can cause saddle-related pain and lower back pain. The distance from the seat to the handlebars is also important for comfort. If this distance is too short then you may experience pain in your mid back and arms, too far may cause strain on your neck and lower back. Handlebar position will affect neck, shoulder, back, and hand comfort. Keeping a controlled, but relaxed grip on the handlebars helps you avoid wrist and hand pain. Handlebars must be adjusted properly to maintain a relaxed grip.
Bicycles can be easily adjusted to greatly improve the comfort of your bicycling experience. Proper bike fit will minimize discomfort, decrease your chance of injury, and greatly improve your enjoyment. Proper bike fit will improve your ability to stay on the bicycle longer and progress towards your fitness goals! When fitting a bicycle, it is important to consider changes due to injury or age. Bicycling should be about enjoyment, not pain. Before you ride this season, see a local physical therapist who is trained to help you reduce the risk of bicycling-related injury through proper bike fit.
“On the Move” is a periodic column giving healthy lifestyle tips and information on activities happening in the Skaneateles-area. Kraetz Physical Therapy is located at 796 Genesee St., Skaneateles. For more tips follow them at facebook.com/kraetzphysicaltherapy.