Why Proper Bike Fit is Important

Mountain Biking
We see a lot of cyclists here at PRO Physical Therapy. Let’s face it – we live in Madison! The biking community here is incredible. The trail system is far better than a lot of American cities, and you can pop outside the city quickly and be in the beautiful hills of the Driftless region in no time. How lucky are we? If you’re an avid cyclist, then you’ve probably at least considered getting a professional bike fit. People swear by them. After all, how much time do you spend on your bike? If you’re commuting or road riding, it’s probably a significant amount of time. If your bike hasn’t been properly fitted to you, chances are you’ll want to bike less, and you’ll hurt more afterwards. A proper bike fit is the difference between loving your bike even more, or never using it.

How to Get a Proper Bike Fit

Basically, if you hurt while riding, something needs to change. A proper bike fit can make you so much more comfortable, and even faster on your bike! Bike fits are for everyone – avid cyclist or new riders. A proper fit will help prevent overuse injuries from improper position, and varies from person to person. Depending on your age, style of riding, and physical attributes (flexibility, etc), your bike fit will be different than the next persons fit. While we know a bit about bike fitting and proper position here at PRO Physical Therapy, we always recommend taking your bike to a bike fit professional. In Madison, Stacey Brickson is our go to gal. She’s a Physical Therapist and PhD in Exercise Physiology, and has tailored her work to encompass her passion for cycling. She has a private niche practice here in Madison in a bike shop where she specializes in therapeutic bike fit. We often send our patients to her when they come in with bike fit questions or concerns.

At Home Bike Fit

While we think that it’s important to get fitted by a professional, that’s not always necessary for everyone. We recommend that you make the following adjustments if you’d like to try an at home bike fit first:

  • Size: make sure you’ve chosen the right size frame to fit your height/leg/torso length. There’s only so much a bike fit can do if you’re riding an improperly sized bike.
  • Seat Height: this is an easy one to mess around with. If your seat is too low or too high, this can cause major discomfort. A seat that’s too low can put a lot of strain on the knees, while a seat that’s too high can add unwanted pressure points on the saddle.
  • Reach to the Handle Bars: if this is too far or too short, this can result in a lot of upper body pain. You should be able to sit comfortably on your saddle, and reach the bars/hoods. Your elbows shouldn’t be locked, and your core should be slightly engaged.

Riding shouldn’t be painful. If it is causing you pain, consider getting a bike fit! Any pain, numbness, or tingling are signs of an improper bike fit. Some of these at-home fixes are simple, but if they don’t seem to be working, we definitely recommend calling in the pros!