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The Cyclist Checklist to Avoid Pain

January 18, 2013

4184212-3x4-700x933 By Will Thom

Many people wrongly assume that pain during cycling is an inevitable consequence of cycling. As a result, many people avoid riding because it has always resulted in pain, discomfort and the aggravation of injuries. However what most riders don’t realize is that problems can often be eliminated by simply reassessing the setup of the bike and retraining your riding posture.

The most important point to remember is that every rider has different needs and goals therefore the ‘optimal riding position’ varies between riders. For example, the seat height for a flexible elite level cyclist will likely be higher than for a recreational cyclist with a history of lower back pain, but both cyclists may benefit from gradually raising their seat height as training and treatment increases their flexibility.

To identify an individual’s ‘optimal riding position’, a thorough assessment of posture, strength, flexibility and core stability is required. Then basic recommendations can be made on adjusting the seat, handlebars of general spinal posture. A full assessment of ankle range can be helpful as well, especially if the cyclist is experiencing lower limb pain.

Core Stability is essential for cycling posture, especially the sustained forward lean of the rider. The most efficient riding posture places minimal weight on the rider’s hands, arms and shoulders. Poor riding positioning along with inadequate core stability mean cyclists will struggle to sustain the correct forward lean angle and pedaling technique. Flexibility allows the cyclist to be both powerful and comfortable on their bike. Specific stretches can enhance your ‘optimal riding position’ and has been shown to aid recovery from exercise soreness.
Pedalling Technique is also an important part of assessing a cyclist’s ‘optimal riding position’. The ideal pedalling technique consists of both legs producing constant and equal power throughout the pedal cycle however this not usually the case. Knees should be tracking in line with the toes, aiming for symmetry for both sides. Physiotherapy would use a combination of hands-on treatment, core stability and flexibility and exercises and adjustments to bike setup.

1. Extended Back
2. Adducted and Retracted Shoulders (Shoulders Back)
3. Core Engaged
4. Forward Tilted Pelvis
5. Neutral Neck
6. Decreased Weight Bearing in Hands
7. Loaded Glutes and Hamstrings


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