By Nic Andrews, Assistant Physiotherapist: Woollahra Physiotherapy
Cycling or using an RPM bike at the gym is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular endurance as well as strength. It is often a preferred method of training because it has a lower impact on joints (ankles, knees and hips) when compared to other activities such as running.
However, there are still a few key steps to ensure you’re training in the safest most effective way possible! As always, its best to consult a physiotherapist to work out what’s best for you. In the meantime, these steps should assist you in preventing injury or exacerbating any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Perhaps the most important aspect to get right is your seat height. Proper seat height ensures proper force production and goes a long way to preventing injuries on the bike. A quick and easy guide is to stand next to the bike and the seat should sit in line with the top of your hip bone.
A physiotherapist can assist in making special adjustments if you are feeling pain at the front of the knee (therapist will adjust your seat to a 15-20-degree knee angle) or pain at the back of the knee (therapist will adjust your seat to a 25-35-degree knee angle).
The next thing to get right is potentially the most ignored aspect of setting up your bike. Correct handlebar height is imperative for effective muscle recruitment which allows you to get the most out of your session!
As a guide the handlebar should be parallel with the seat or slightly below.
This particular aspect can get a little tricky so be sure to consult a physiotherapist if you don’t feel confident. Essentially you want your pedals in a 3oclock and 9oclock position. With your lead leg on the 3oclock peddle, you should be able to draw a line down through the knee directly into the middle of the peddle.
This aspect is crucial to protect your shoulders, spine and neck. With your buttocks comfortably positioned towards the back of the seat, your arms should create a 90degree angle with the handlebars.
Once you’ve nailed these steps you are in a safe position to begin your training session. It’s important to maintain your core throughout the activity to protect your back. Make sure you are managing your resistance in accordance with your training levels and goals.
For any further clarification please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Woollahra Physiotherapy we would be more than happy to assist.