Get in shape for summer by dusting off your bike and tearing up the tarmac. Use your commute as a valuable exercise opportunity, or factor some cycle time into your weekends or evenings, and kiss goodbye to excess winter weight.
As an extra bonus – compared to many sports – cycling has a relatively low injury rate and is almost impact free. It’s a great way to get fit and helps build core stability.
Obviously, from time to time, cyclists do suffer injuries, so make sure you are not ignoring any muscle niggles, check your bike is set up properly and ensure a good riding position. Here’s how:
• Saddle height – when the ball of your foot is on the pedal at the bottom of a stroke, your knee should have a slight bend in it and you should not be overstretching. Make sure your hips are not moving sideways when pedalling. Also, don’t feel you have to come off the saddle to touch the floor.
• Saddle angle – the saddle should be in a horizontal position, parallel with the floor. If you experience a lot of pressure and discomfort in the perineum area, tilt the saddle slightly downwards, but only do this if really necessary.
• Saddle position – when your pedals are in the horizontal (three and nine o’ clock positions), your front knee should be directly over the pedal.
• Handlebar position – opinions vary, but a good rule of thumb is that you don’t want to be leaning on the handlebars too much. Holding them is better. If the bars are at the correct height, then when you are on the saddle your torso should be leaning forwards, with your hands on top of the bars and a bend in your elbows.
If you haven’t already bought your bike, make sure to research what the best frame and wheel size is for you. Finally, ensure you select the correct gear for the terrain to avoid overloading joints and muscles, and fix your feet in place, as spinning the cranks then requires little co-ordination and reduces injury risk.
So, get out there and enjoy a comfortable, calorie-burning ride! Bon voyage…
By Andrew Doody – Osteopath at Shine, Church Street