How to Avoid Common Bike Injuries

Whether you’re starting a bike commute, thinking of leisurely family bike rides, or planning to go all-out and compete in a race, you’ll want to do a few things: Get a bike that fits, avoid injuries, and get a helmet!

Bike Fitting

Did you know that many physical therapy practices have bike fitting specialists? Ask the next time you’re in or call around. Jenny Iyo, doctor of physical therapy and clinic director at Core Physical Therapy shares some tips for getting your bike set up. You can also use these tips to adjust your stationary bike at the gym or in a spin class.

“Biking puts you in an abnormal position sometimes for a long period of time,” Iyo said.

So taking the time to get properly set up will be worth it.

When you sit on the bike and fully extend one leg, your ankle should be at a relaxed position You shouldn’t have to point your toe to reach. Also, your knee shouldn’t be locked-out straight. It should have about a 35-degree angle when leg is most extended. It’s a common mistake, but straight knee leads to injury, Iyo says.

Then position your arms, so you have a slight bend of about 20-40 degrees in the elbows.

These tips should help you avoid common knee and shoulder injuries which are common among bikers. If anything feels uncomfortable or if you experience pain, see a bike fit specialist to check your bike out and a physical therapist to check your body out.

Pedal Speed

Another surprise to most riders is that to decrease pressure on the knee joints, low back and quad muscles, you want to be pedaling at a high cadence—even on a flat road. Lower the gear so you’re pedaling about 90-100 rotations per minute, which might feel really fast.

Insider tip: Sing the Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive in your head (or play it on your phone) while you pedal to get a feel for the speed.

Picking Out a Bike

The bike you choose will depend on your plans for it. If you’re new to biking and will encounter hills, look for a bike that has low gearing, so you can decrease the resistance for bigger hills. Brooke Jackson breaks down the differences between cruiser, commuter, mountain, and electric bikes.

If you haven’t ridden in a while, start easy and give yourself time to get comfortable on your bike. Check out bike trail maps or pair up with an experienced rider to get a feel for routes and traffic patterns. Soon enough, you’ll be happily pedaling and getting a great cardio workout.

“It’s a good way of moving your body and it’s fun,” Iyo said

And whatever you do, get a helmet and wear it!

What Bike Is Right?