Votre préparation à la saison de vélo est déjà bien entamée, mais vous

16/05/2019

Your preparations for the upcoming summer of cycling are probably well under way, and you’re surely hoping that the season will be injury-free. Not like the time you had to stop using your bike for weeks because of that sore knee! So here are a few tips to help prevent injuries.

1- Frame size and bike fit: the basis

The first thing to identify is your riding position on the bike. The proper position and bike fit will contribute hugely to how comfortable your bike is to ride and help prevent injuries.

Good bike fit starts with the proper frame size. This can mean that buying a used bike is not always the best way to go. When bicycle shopping, we strongly recommend trying out one size larger and one size smaller than the one recommended by the seller. A road test is also crucial, though not always possible.

Spare parts can help adjust the lengths and angles of some existing components, but will never fully compensate for the wrong-sized frame. 
A frame that’s not the right size can greatly influence your posture while you ride, and end up causing pain.

1.1 Undersized frame

With a frame that’s not large enough, you will be hunched over the bike, forcing you to compensate by further curving the back and thus risking lumbar issues. At the same time, your neck will be forced into an exaggerated extension position just so you can see where you’re going, which can lead to cervical faceting syndrome. And finally, you are putting a great deal of weight on the hands, which can result in numbness.

1.2 Oversized frame

A frame that’s too large will tend to increase the weight on the saddle, since the rider is seated too far back to properly reach the handlebar. Over the medium term, this can lead to chronic seat discomfort. The pedals will also be positioned too far away for you to achieve decent pedalling power. Furthermore, the distance between the two pedals could be too wide, creating a valgus, or tendency toward oblique (inward) displacement of the knees and, eventually, patello-femoral pain syndrome.

To learn more about how to compensate for a bike frame of insufficient size, stay tuned for the next blog post.

2- Back to riding position

Even if your bike frame is the proper size for you, every athlete is different and must adjust their bike in keeping with their own physiology and objectives.

2.1 Common mistakes

2.1.1 Cyclist seeks aerodynamic perfection

The most frequent mistake made will be setting the saddle too high and/or lowering the handlebar too much.

First off, this can cause soreness in the neck (as described above) from the need to extend it simply to see the road ahead.

Furthermore, more weight is put on the handlebar, which can cause numbness in the hands and pain in the wrists, elbows and shoulders.

This adjustment also demands exceptional flexibility of the posterior muscle chain, since the hip angle is more tightly closed.

There is a way to achieve a good aerodynamic profile without sacrificing comfort. You just need to find that middle ground!

2.1.2 Cyclist seeks armchair comfort in a too-low saddle

The most significant impact here will be the increase in weight on the saddle and the ensuing risk of posterior pain.

Moreover, the knee angle is wider, which increases the burden on the knee joint and the threat of overuse. That’s because the angle decreases the pulling capacity and overloads the quadriceps, leading to the risk of patellar tendinopathy.

A professional evaluation will help establish your optimal riding position. There are ergonomics experts who can adjust the bike to the user’s fitness from an injury-prevention perspective. The physiotherapist can at that point do a complete assessment of the cyclist’s mobility and physical condition. This will lead to the optimal adjustment for the cyclist’s best comfort and/or performance levels, depending on their objectives.

As you can see, it is important to pay attention to comfort and take the time to shop around for a bike, then have it adjusted to your condition and goals.

3- Progressive training

As with the practice of any sport, the rule of thumb is progressive training. You need to let your body adapt to the new demands you’re placing on it before thinking you’re ready to ride from Montreal to Quebec City!

The idea is to increase training time gradually by adjusting the duration, intensity and frequency of rides. A kinesiologist can work with you to draw up a training plan. Otherwise, there are plenty of books out there that discuss different programs for various levels of training.

Stay tuned to this blog, because my next post will talk about proper adjustment for your specific aches and pains!

Now that you’re armed with these useful tips, I wish you a wonderful riding season!

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