Did you know that a professional bike fitting will prevent cycling knee pain and back pain, and will help you to bike further and faster, without pain?
Causes of Cycling Knee Pain
Among all athletes, knee pain is the most common overuse injury. And among cyclists, knee pain is the most common leg overuse injury. Repetitive stress injuries are common in cyclists, no doubt due to the fact that cycling is just so addictive.
And cyclist knee pain is also common because the movement in cycling is very repetitive – when cycling for an hour, we average up to 5,000 pedal revolutions. Apart from that, high mileage, and the rapid increase in training intensity that many of us cannot resist in early spring, can both lead to cycling knee injuries. (Source: CPT Chad Asplund, MD, Knee Pain and Bicycling: Fitting Concepts for Clinicians; The Physician and Sports Medicine, 32.4)
But importantly, cycling knee injuries can be caused by ill-fitting bikes. As you can see from this table from a medical research report, there are all kinds of cycling knee injuries that can be caused simply by an ill-fitting bike.
How I Fixed my Cycling Knee Pain
A few months ago I bought a new bike (a really cool Specialized Tricross Sport). I was so happy with it that I went right out and rode hundreds of kilometers … and then suddenly found that I could not walk without pain. Naturally, I ignored the pain and continued cycling.
In fact, I reasoned that walking hurt more than cycling, so I should try to avoid walking, and actually cycle MORE.
But then it got to the point where I was having almost paralyzing pain in my knees while cycling, and I had to admit it was time to get help. I was having a serious attack of cycling knee pain. It was too late to prevent my cycling knee pain, and even my miraculous, cheap cure for cycling knee pain could not get me back in the saddle.
So I bit the bullet (hard) – I got a professional bike fitting done by Zenya Kasubuchi, a sports physiotherapist down at the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre at the Plaza of Nations in downtown Vancouver. It was a hard bullet to bite because it was NOT CHEAP.
The professional bike fitting was worth every cent.
A Professional Bike Fitting includes Assessment, Diagnosis and Prescription
I got an in-depth assessment of my body, and the diagnosis that I had caused the problem by riding long distances on a bike that was not fitted to my body. The analogy Zenya used was running a train just slightly off the track for long distances – the constant friction had caused irritation, and stubborn ignoring of the irritation had led to quite serious inflammation.
After the assessment, Zenya measured and aligned every important part of my bike. This professional-bike-fitting included getting the saddle height right, and the distance between the saddle and the handlebars. It also meant lining up the saddle with the crank, so that the angle of my knees while pedaling was correct. And he showed me the right angle to have my knees at (apparently cycling like a duck is not recommended).
Good Shoes are Also Necessary to Prevent Cycling Pain
Also he pointed out that my sneakers were too floppy, and recommended that I get cycling shoes with really non-bendable soles, such as Five Tens.
Zenya fixed what he could right on the spot, and sent me away with a prescription for my local bike shop. The professional-bike-fitting prescription included getting a shorter stem, and changing the angle of said stem. It took the bike shop a while, but when I picked it up, it was like magic. I’ve never had a bike feel that good!
Also, Zenya pointed out that once my bike was perfect, I could make sure that my other bikes matched this one as closely as possible. This is really useful for people with several bikes, as these fittings are expensive, so you want to have as few as possible.
That said, I know that I will never again buy a bike and NOT get a professional bike fitting.
It Cost Me More to NOT Have a Professional Bike Fitting!
The cost of NOT having a professional bike fitting was really high:
- months of knee pain
- the depression caused by not being able to ride at all eventually
- about a dozen physiotherapy sessions
- hours of stretching exercises, and
- constant icing for about two months.
Wow! Compared to all that, a professional bike fitting is really good value for money.
I highly recommend that you get yourself a professional bike fitting the next time you get a new bike. Your knees will thank you! If you can’t afford one, then fit it yourself. Here is a book that shows you exactly how to do your own bike fitting: Bike Fit: Optimise your bike position for high performance and injury avoidance.
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