Healthy Cycling

New York City has always encouraged the use of bicycles as an alternative to get around town. In recent years, cycling has become more popular with the emergence of spin cycle classes and pay-per-ride or membership bicycles ready for use in visible parts of the city.

Most pain and injuries related to bicycle use are associated with poor bike fit.

Basics in Bike Fit

Common Problems and Possible Solutions:

Anterior Knee Pain

Pain on the front of the knees may be avoided by adjusting saddle height so that it is not too low, pedaling at the right speed so that the cadence is not too slow, ensuring that there is no muscle imbalance by having equal strength of the quads and hamstrings, and by aligning bicycle cleats for those with clipless pedals.

Neck Pain

Adjust handlebar or saddle position to avoid neck pain. Poor handlebar placements include too low, and too great or too short of a reach. Excessive downward tilt of the saddle may result in neck pain.

Lower Back Pain

Ensure that hamstrings are flexible while using them equally with the quads while pedaling. Keep cadence/speed at comfortable pace and not too slow. Core stability as well as back strength are important. Avoid handlebars from being too long or too low.

Hamstrings Tendinitis

Keep hamstrings flexible and strong. Avoid having a high saddle. Align bicycle cleat when using clipless pedals.

Hand Numbness or Pain

Avoid short-reach handlebars, downward tilt of the saddle, or poorly-placed brake levers.

Foot Numbness or Pain

This is usually due to faulty foot mechanics, using quads too much during pedaling, slow speed, or malalignment of bicycle cleat for clipless pedals.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

Leg length discrepancy may be a factor. Bike misfits may be too-high saddle or misaligned bicycle cleat for those who use clipless pedals.


– Ma. Michelle Q. Cruz, PT, DPT, OCS, CSST

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