We talk a lot about the importance of a proper bike fit, but paying for a professional fit can seem daunting. It’s not exactly rocket science, but there are a lot of little adjustments that can make a huge difference. It’s hard to put a monetary value on being comfortable on a bike, but riding and being uncomfortable is only going to lead to riding less to not at all. Here are some symptoms of a bad bike fit, and how you can go about fixing them.
When pedalling, if your knees are pointing outwards, you may not feel any pain, but you look funny and you’re wasting energy. If your thighs feel the burn a little too much when your climbing, it could be a sign your saddle is too low. The solution? Raise your saddle height in small increments until your legs remain parallel to the frame through each revolution.
If you’ve ever been twenty minutes into a ride only to have your hands start aching no matter how you position them on the bars, then you know how distracting it can be. Another symptom of a bad bike fit can be hand and wrist pain. If your saddle is too high (or tilted too far forward), your handlebars too low, or your either too cramped or too stretched it can result in putting too much of your weight through the front of the bike and onto your hands.
Neck pain often goes hand in hand with cycling, especially for beginners, and the problem may not be entirely bike fit. Holding your head up to keep your eyes on the road for extended periods of time is tough, especially if you have a weak core. However, neck pain can also be inked to having a high seat post in relation to your bars.
When the seat post is too high it can place you in an aggressive position, which your body may not be ready for. It’s a better tactic to gradually increase the aero position as you get used to cycling. Additionally, if your road or aero bars are too far away causing you to overreach you can place unnecessary strain on these muscles. The solution would be to place the bars closer in relation to your body so you’re in a “tucked” position when riding.
Wobbly Hips and Lower Back Fatigue
Lower back pain is more often a result of a weak core, but if your hips are rocking side to side as you pedal your seat is too high, which can result in lower back fatigue. Lower the seat gradually, riding a flat circuit in between until you’ve found the perfect saddle height. When you do find it, be sure to mark it somehow so you can easily find it again.
Knee pain in the back or sides of the knee is likely a saddle that is too high, but could also be your cleat position. On your downstroke, your foot shouldn’t be pointed down. Instead, you should be pushing the pedal down through the heel.
Foot Numbness or Tingling
Foot numbness usually occurs when the nerves between the bones under the ball of the foot become compressed. The likely culprit here is shoe fit, cleat position or socks. Particularly if the cleat is too far forward it can cause numbness, as it places pressure on the ball of your foot.