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Professional Bike Fitting: Benefits & Guidelines From a Physical Therapist

Cycling is an excellent form of exercise and a good way to spend some time in the great outdoors! However, improper bike fit can lead to discomfort, pain, and even injuries. To make the most of your cycling experience and ensure long-term health benefits, having the proper bike fit is essential! There are three main avenues you can take to fit your bike: a standard bike shop fitting, a professional bike fitting, or doing it yourself. While any type of customization is going to lead to an improved experience, we recommend getting a professional bike fitting done by a physical therapist. These healthcare experts have the knowledge and skills to tailor your bike setup specifically to your body and riding style. In this blog post, we will highlight the benefits of getting a professional fitting, as well as some guidelines if you are attempting to fit your bike yourself.


Seattle Professional Bike Fitting

DIY Bike Fitting Guidelines


If you choose to forgo a professional fitting in favor of the do-it-yourself approach, here are some tips:


  • Frame size: This is the foundations of proper fit. Your bike frame should accommodate your height and proportions without requiring excessive adjustments.

  • Saddle height and position: The seat affects leg extension, power transfer, and comfort while riding. Aim for a slight bend in the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke and ensure your knee tracks properly over the pedal spindle.

  • Handlebar reach and drop: This influences comfort, aerodynamics, and control. Ideally, you should be able to reach the hoods comfortably with a slight bend in your elbows while maintaining a neutral spine.

  • Cleat position (for clipless pedals): Your foot and knee should be aligned for optimal power transfer and reduced risk of injury.

  • Personalization: Flexibility, riding style, and physical limitations also play a role. A professional fitting can address these individual needs to ensure the best fit for you.


Benefits of a Professional Bike Fitting


While it's possible to do your own bike fitting, a professional fitting is an investment that pays off in numerous ways.


Personalized Ergonomics

Each person has a unique body structure, including variations in limb length, joint flexibility, and muscle strength. A physical therapist conducting a bike fitting will assess your individual biomechanics and customize your bike setup accordingly. By adjusting saddle, height, handlebar position, and pedal alignment, they can ensure that your bike is ergonomically suited to your body, reducing the risk of strain or discomfort during rides.


Injury Prevention

Repetitive strain and overuse injuries are common among cyclists, particularly those with ill-fitted bikes. A physical therapist has a deep understanding of musculoskeletal anatomy and can identify potential injury risks associated with your cycling posture. By making appropriate adjustments, they can minimize stress on vulnerable areas, such as the knees, hips, and lower back, helping to prevent injuries and ensuring a safer biking experience.


Enhanced Performance

An optimal bike fit not only reduces the likelihood of injuries but also improves your cycling performance. When your bike is tailored to your body mechanics, you can generate more power with each pedal stroke and maintain a more aerodynamic riding position. As a result, you'll experience increased efficiency, allowing you to ride longer and faster while expending less energy.


Long-Term Comfort & Enjoyment

Cycling is meant to be an enjoyable activity that promotes physical fitness and mental well-being. However, discomfort or pain caused by an improper bike fit can quickly ruin the fun. A bike fitting by a physical therapist ensures that you experience comfort during your rides, making biking a more sustainable and enjoyable part of your lifestyle.


Post-Injury Rehabilitation

If you're recovering from an injury or any musculoskeletal issue, a physical therapist can play a crucial role in your rehabilitation process. By making appropriate modifications, they can help your resume cycling safely, easing your transition back into the sport and aiding your recovery journey.


Get an Expert Bike Fitting


Whether you are a casual cyclist or a dedicated enthusiast, optimizing your bike setup with the help of a physical therapist will not only improve your biking experience but also contribute to your overall well-being. So, before you hit the road or trail on your bicycle, don't forget to get a bike fitting done to make the most out of your cycling journey. If you are in the Seattle area, Rehab United is your resource for expert bike fittings and performance advice.




 

Chris Cheek,PT, DPT, CSCS, is a physical therapist who received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Florida. Chris is also well-versed in programming for high-level athletics and sport as he obtained his Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification through the NSCA.




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